Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif have been charged with corruption by England's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The three players are alleged to have been bribed to bowl no-balls to order during their country's tour of England last year, the allegations coming to light during the fourth Test at Lord's.
The three cricketers, as well as their agent Mazhar Majeed, have now been charged with conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat.
"These charges relate to allegations that Mr Majeed accepted money from a third party to arrange for the players to bowl `no balls' on 26 and 27 August 2010, during Pakistan's fourth test at Lord's Cricket Ground in London," Simon Clements, head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said.
"Summonses for the same court date (17th March) have been issued for the three players and they have been asked to return to this country voluntarily, as they agreed to do in September last year.Their extradition will be sought should they fail to return."
The three players are currently waiting for the results of an independent tribunal in Qatar to find out if they face any sporting sanctions for their actions. If found guilty of breaching the International Cricket Council (ICC) Anti-Corruption Code, they are expected to face bans of at least five years.
The tribunal is set to publish its findings on Saturday (5th February). The three players have been suspended from any cricketing activities following the allegations although the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had to explain Amir's appearance in a club match to the ICC last month.
Andrew Nixon, an associate at law firm Thomas Eggar LLP offered his analysis of the latest development in the long-running case:
"The CPS must be satisfied that there is a reasonable prospect of a successful conviction bearing in mind the standard of proof.
"The players' immediate future in cricket will be determined tomorrow (5th February) when the ICC tribunal, chaired by Michael Beloff QC, hands down its delayed ruling following the hearing in Qatar last month. Under Article 3 of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code the standard of proof, certainly in relation to the most serious charges, will be beyond reasonable doubt: the same test as for a criminal prosecution.
"The evidence against the players will therefore need to be compelling for a guilty verdict. The fact that the CPS has found enough in the News of the World collated evidence to determine that there is a real prospect of a successful conviction may now be a precursor to lengthy bans from the sport.
"The outcome will obviously be significant for cricket. What is crucial is that the ICC gets the decision right, and the process behind that decision right. Public confidence in the authenticity and integrity of the sporting contest is vital for the well being of any sport, and cricket is no different."
© Cricket World 2011