Pakistan vice-captain Rashid Latif and talented middle-order
batsman Basit Ali dramatically quit international cricket on Fri-
day and are to fly home early from the tour of Zimbabwe.
Pakistan's coach and manager Intikhab Alam said the joint an-
nouncement of the players' immediate retirements, made by fax to
the Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP), had come as
a complete surprise.
The decision by wicketkeeper Latif, 26, and Basit, 24, to go
after less than three years in tests comes during a troubled time
for Pakistan cricket, already rocked by *** allegations that
are being investigated by their officials.
Intikhab said: "Yesterday (Thursday) the team (minus Latif and
Basit) went to Victoria Falls and when we got back we heard the
news that they had announced their retirement.
"It is very unfortunate but they say they are not enjoying inter-
national cricket any more."
Pakistan have two more limited overs internationals against Zim-
babwe to play at the weekend before flying home on Tuesday, and
Intikhab agreed the timing of the players' announcement and their
immediate departure was poor.
"It can create ill-feeling in the team but I would like to think
they will get on with it and win the last two matches," he said.
The two-leg tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe has not been par-
ticularly memorable for Latif and Basit. Latif, who made his
test debut in the fifth and final match of the 1992 series in
England, has kept wicket well enough but has managed just 74 runs
in five test innings. Basit, who showed considerable early prom-
ise by heading his team's test averages with 222 runs at 55.50 in
his debut series in West Indies in 1993, has had one test innings
in Zimbabwe in which he was dismissed for nought.
Last weekend former Pakistan fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz claimed in
a London newspaper that Latif was unhappy with his team mates
over *** allegations. Latif had a public falling-out with
captain Salim Malik in South Africa but Intikhab was quick to
deny the two events were related:
"I still feel that there was a bit of a misunderstanding between
Rashid and Salim but it was nothing more than that. But life goes
on. It was his own decision, I don't think anyone else influenced
Controversy and erratic form has dogged Pakistan's tour of south-
ern Africa which began at the end of November. They played poor-
ly at the end of the South Africa leg when they lost both the
Mandela Trophy finals comfortably and were then overwhelmed in
the one-off test in Johannesburg. When they arrived in Zimbabwe
they lost the first test by an innings and although they
recovered to win the series 2-1, the cricket was overshadowed
when the *** accusations broke in Sydney. There followed ac-
cusations of excessive sledging from one Zimbabwe batsman before
Malik was fined half his match fee in the third test for accusing
local umpire Ian Robinson of ball-tampering. Finally, the team
was fined 25 per cent of their total match fees for slow over
rates during the course of the series.