England happy to play against trio named in Pakistan spot-fixing trial

Andrew Strauss has insisted his England side have no qualms about playing against Pakistan players named in court during the spot-fixing trial which saw three cricketers and an agent jailed.

Wahab Riaz, Umar Akmal and Imran Farhat – all named in the trial at Southwark Crown Court in October as having links with disgraced agent Mazhar Majeed – have been included in Pakistan’s squad for the forthcoming Test series against England in United Arab Emirates, which begins on 16 January.

Majeed was jailed alongside Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir for a betting scam which took place during Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010. Riaz, Akmal and Farhat had no charges brought against them and Strauss does not see their inclusion as inflammatory.

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“It’s their obligation and duty to pick the best side they think is available to them,” Strauss said.

“The spot-fixing stuff is something we’re desperately keen to move on from. I don’t think there’s any good that can come from churning it all up again. It’s time to concentrate on the cricket and we’ll play against whichever XI is selected.”

While Strauss is keen to move on from the controversies of the past, he does not feel the game can be seen as totally clean.

“I don’t think it’s possible to say that,” he said. “There’s more awareness about it and it’s been in the news a lot, which is a good thing.

“There have been some consequences of what went on but it’s a hard thing to eradicate completely. Policing it is very tough.

“There’s a huge responsibility on the administrators, but also on the players, to make sure that any inkling, anything we see that might be untoward is reported and acted upon.”

With a history of controversy surrounding series between England and Pakistan, Strauss is hoping the drama this time is confined to the pitch.

“This perception that there’s always issues between Pakistan and England, we should see this as an opportunity to eradicate that,” he said.

“There’s no reason why that should be the case.

“If we approach it in the right spirit then that should be good for relations between the two teams and world cricket in general.

“We all recognise it’s time to move on from the spot-fixing stuff. Pakistan are playing a lot of good cricket and that’s going to be the challenge for us to overcome them, on the field.

“What’s happened before is water under the bridge and I hope both sides can play in the right spirit and produce an entertaining and exciting Test match series.”