London:England cricketer Usmaan Afzaal has been given police protection after being targeted by a shady betting syndicate, according to a News of The World report.
The British tabloid, which exposed the betting scandal during the Pakistan-England series, said Afzaal was being guarded at a "safe house" after a gang posing as cops rifled through his family home waving a fake warrant.
Soon after his family reported the raid to a Nottingham police station, Afzaal's brother Kamran is said to have received an anonymous blackmail call. The caller warned he had just 24 hours to find 100,000 or his family would be reported to cricket's anti-corruption squad. He told Nottinghamshire police about the call in July. They have left their three-storey townhouse on the outskirts of Nottingham after the threat.
The tabloid denied Afzaal or his family were involved in match fixing or any wrongdoing. The English Cricket Board and Surrey CCC confirmed there was no suggestion Afzaal had ever been involved in any form of match fixing.
It is believed the gang may have links to an illegal gambling ring run by an Indian fixer based in the Middle-East.
Scotland Yard's Serious and Organised Crime Command were tipped off by Customs officers who had learned of the menacing demand.
Pakistan-born Afzaal played for England in three Ashes Tests against Australia in 2001. On Tuesday, he was released by his county club Surrey. Since Surrey's loss against Middlesex in July, Afzaal has not played a single first-class match.