Pakistan cricket at lowest point, says interim chief

Pakistan cricket has reached its lowest point, its interim chief said Wednesday, calling for a string of defeats, cheating allegations, teams refusing to tour and court cases to be resolved quickly.

"Our cricket has reached the lowest ground," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) interim chairman Najam Sethi told reporters, speaking in English upon his return from last week's International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in London.

"We are not winning matches. We are facing allegations of cheating with our players and an umpire being banned and teams refusing to tour, so we need to address all that," said Sethi.

Pakistan's national team suffered a humiliating exit from the elite eight-nation Champions Trophy in England last month.

Four Pakistani players -- Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer and Danish Kaneria -- are banned for spot-fixing.

International umpire Nadeem Ghouri was suspended for four years for agreeing to cheating, exposed in an Indian TV sting operation last year.

PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf was last month suspended by a court in Islamabad on charges of controversy over his election, forcing the new government to appoint Sethi until Ashraf's case is decided.

Pakistan has hosted no top-level cricket since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009, killing eight Pakistanis and wounding seven visiting players.

Sethi said international cricket can only resume if the security situation improves.

Pakistan suffers daily violence blamed on Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked militant groups.

"No one is ready to tour Pakistan since attacks on the Sri Lankan team," said Sethi, a seasoned journalist who was interim chief minister of Punjab province before historic elections in May this year.

"Every country needs assurances on security and until and unless we give them those they will not tour," he added.

Last month, militants shot dead 10 foreign climbers and a Pakistani guide in an unprecedented attack in the Himalayas, threatening to wipe out what little tourism industry remains.

"I have talked to England and the West Indies boards for sending unofficial teams so that we can make a beginning," said Sethi.

"I have assured the ICC and other countries that a new government has taken over and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is determined to root out terrorism and on that they agreed to review our situation, provided things really improve."

Sethi said he is hopeful that Aamer's five-year ban will be relaxed.

"I stressed that the international community needed to review his case and I am hopeful that Aamer will get 20 percent relaxation and we will hire an English lawyer to explore whatever relaxation we can get within the laws," said Sethi.

The ICC formed a five-man committee to look into Aamer's ban earlier this week.

Aamer, Butt and Asif were banned in 2011 for contriving deliberate no-balls in return for money during the Lord's Test against England a year earlier.

Aamer alone pleaded guilty in a British court which jailed all three players along with their agent Mazhar Majeed.

Appeals from Butt and Asif to the international Court of Arbitration for Sports were rejected earlier this year.