South Africans deny provoking Pietersen

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South Africa test captain Graeme Smith has strongly denied recent suggestions that he or his team deliberately provoked England batsman Kevin Pietersen into sending “provocative” text messages to the Proteas players during the recent Test series between the sides.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive David Collier said in a radio 
interview on Sunday that there had been a “deliberate policy” to entrap Pietersen.

“In the Proteas we pride ourselves on being a sporting and ethical team,” Smith said in a statement released by the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) last night.

“We talk a lot about values and our approach to the game. We play hard, but we play fair and any suggestions that we did this as a tactic is totally unwarranted and unnecessary.”

SACA chief executive Tony Irish confirmed that both he and the national players are expecting an apology from Collier for his comments.

“Our players are angered by David Collier’s claims that they employed unfair and unsporting tactics against Kevin,” said Irish. “By his own admission Mr Collier never saw any text messages, or correspondence, and we know that Kevin himself has never suggested that he was provoked, so where is the evidence for this claim?

“In international cricket, if a player makes an inflammatory comment or accusation he gets punished,” said Irish. “Look what happened to Kevin Pietersen himself. The players believe that the same should apply to administrators especially when this is done publicly. Our players are awaiting an apology.”

Meanwhile, three of the six cricket umpires accused of match-fixing by an Indian TV station have spoken to the BBC to deny the allegations.

India TV alleged the umpires – from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh – were willing to fix World Twenty20 games ahead of the tournament.

“It is absolute rubbish,” Bangladeshi umpire Nadir Shah told the BBC.

None of the umpires named were involved in the games of the actual tournament.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is investigating the claims. Cricket’s governing body has called on the broadcaster to hand over evidence that could help its investigation.

Umpire Shah added: “These people are setting up these things. Telling whatever they feel like. Once we knew that these people are crooked we backed out.”

Two of three Sri Lankan umpires accused, Maurice Zilva and Gamini Dissanayake, also denied allegations of corruption.

“All I have to say is that we are innocent of all these charges,” said Zilva. “We have already 
informed Sri Lanka Cricket [Board] to hold an impartial 
inquiry into this.

“I’m pretty sure they don’t have evidence because we didn’t discuss anything to do with match fixing.”

After an emergency meeting, the umpires’ committee of Sri Lanka’s cricket board concluded that there was wrongdoing.

The committee chairman, Abdul Razikeen Mohamed Aroos, told the BBC the footage appeared genuine. “I think they’ve made mistakes by agreeing to certain things,” he said.