NEW DELHI, May 24 – Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf has been withdrawn from next month’s Champions Trophy in England amid media reports he is under Indian police investigation for spot-fixing, the ICC said Thursday.
The announcement comes a week after police arrested three cricketers, including Test fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, accusing them of deliberately bowling badly in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars during the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said the decision was made after media reports on Wednesday “that the Mumbai police are conducting an investigation” into Rauf’s activities.
” … we feel that it is in Asad’s best interests as well as those of the sport and the event itself, that he is withdrawn from participating in the Champions Trophy,” the ICC said in the statement.
“At this stage, the ICC has no further comment to make.”
Rauf, 57, who has stood in 48 Tests and 98 one-day internationals, was one of the umpires during the IPL.
There was no immediate comment available from the Mumbai police or Rauf but the Press Trust of India and other domestic media said the umpire was under investigation by the police as part of its spot-fixing probe.
Spot-fixing is an illegal activity where a specific part of a game, but not the outcome, is fixed.
Sreesanth, who has played 27 Tests and 53 one-dayers for India, is alleged to have been paid four million rupees ($72,000) to give away around 14 runs in an over while playing against the Kings XI Punjab on May 9.
His Rajasthan Royals teammates, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, are said to have agreed to similar deals in two other IPL matches.
The Indian cricket authorities recently said they would launch their own probe into the allegations, promising strict action against the players if they are found guilty.
The trio were refused bail on Tuesday after they appeared in court in New Delhi on spot-fixing charges.
The scandal widened when police in Mumbai arrested Bollywood actor Vindu Dara Singh Randhawa earlier this week as part of the alleged spot-fixing which has caused outrage among fans in the cricket-mad nation.
His family denied the actor was involved in any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that the investigation was a matter for the Indian authorities.
“We have nothing to do with this case, Rauf is an ICC umpire and was officiating in an Indian event and whatever has happened it’s on Indian soil. We were only informed of his withdrawal by the ICC,” PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf told a press conference.
But he did reveal that the PCB intends to form its own code of conduct for umpires.
“In our next board meeting we are going to formulate a code for umpires and anyone found violating the code will be punished,” said Ashraf, who also declared Pakistan has moved on from the 2010 spot-fixing scandal which saw lengthy bans and jail terms for three players — Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer.
“We have formulated a strict code on fixing and have strengthened our vigilance on players,” Ashraf insisted.
“A vigilance officer is with the team (currently touring Ireland and Britain ahead of the Champions Trophy).”