Ban on Sohail loss to country's cricket
A second cricket ban of two years on national opening batsman, Aamir
Sohail, when an earlier penalisation of one month had just lapsed, has
been termed as too harsh by the game's observers. They think that the
country and its cricket will be the losers when there is a dearth of
organised and experienced openers and Saeed Anwar's fitness is a
Will Rameez Raja in his decline and at the age 35 be tested again and
again? Or will Salim Elahi go through the mill even though he lacks
the big-match temperament, ask the enthusiasts of the game?
This appears to be a crisis period for the national squad. The injury
to the fearful pacer, Waqar Younis, was a hard blow to the side just
on the eve of the first Test in Sri Lanka, when captain Wasim Akram
had a suspect shoulder. No doubt Mohammad Zahid and Shahid Nazir are
fine prospects and have the energy to go on and on, even on
unresponsive strips, they do not belong to the class of Wasim and
Waqar; neither they are as hardened campaigners as the two renowned
Ws. Many are worried that the all-rounder Shahid Afridi, a courageous
slogger and a clever spinner, may be shunted out of team for good. He
did not get the selectors' nod for the Lankan trip.
There are also reports of differences between Ijaz Ahmad, a forceful
stroke-maker, and the board supremo, Majid Khan. If media reports one
to be taken as true Majid raised objections to Ijaz taking over the
role of Wasim's deputy during the captain's absence from the field in
Sharjah. It was Rameez's beat, according to Majid. But why Rameez did
not take the initiative, ask the fans of the game who feel that Ijaz
has the wrist leverage to score at a fast pace confidently, be it a
Test match or a one-dayer.
Will Salim Malik be able to retain his place in the outfit with the
daily allegations of match-fixing and *** directed against him?
Where will be the balance and strength in the conglomerate, the
puzzled cricket lovers want to know? Already Rashid Lateef, a vigorous
hitter of the ball and a quick stumper, and Basit Ali are not getting
their due chance in the squad. Aqib Javed, a talented pacer, too has
been forced to sit on the sidelines. Is the Pakistan team being
deliberately weakened by the board officialdom? Or a search is going
on for fresh *** for the 1999 World Cup, set to be played on the
turning wickets of England!
Apparently the first action against Aamir Sohail, whatever may be the
explanation of the board's disciplinary panel, was taken on flimsy
grounds. If at all the family members of a noted Test and one-day
international player are harsly treated in the pavilion of the Qadhafi
Stadium he will feel insulted; he will react emotionally. The
disciplinary committee of the PCB instead of understanding the
sensitive nature of the incident slapped a ban on Sohail of one month,
a short one but still it disallowed him to take part in any cricketing
As soon as the first ban had run its course the same two members the
third member of the committee abstained from the deliberations of the
panel though he reportedly concurred with the nature of the
penalisation asked the cricketer to appear before them for
questioning. The charge: violating the code of conduct for publicly
levelling some allegations which degraded the team and tarnished the
image of the country. The allegations of betting and match fixing are
not new; they are finding space in the print media for the last few
years. Certainly the foreign critics are *** up a campaign
against Pakistan cricket and creating doubts over its strength and
Even Javed Burki during his tenure as chairman of the ad hoc
committee, after having seen the documents at the ICC headquarters at
Lord's, had acknowledged its seriousness and had promised to take
severe action against the cricketers in this nefarious game, which
reportedly had its beginning in the home series against Australin
(1994-95). The rumours of match-fixing were even rife during
Pakistan's February 1995 tour of Zimbabwe. Burki did not initiate any
steps for investigation and action but recently made a complete U-turn
by denying that he had expressed any such opinion. The disciplinary
committee, while making known its verdict, insisted that the Test
all-rounder should have provided proof of his charges. The board, the
committee felt, cannot take action just on complaints; they had to be
substantiated with proof.
Aamir Sohail, while sticking to his stand, was of the view that he had
submitted the needed documentary evidence to the Ministry of Sports,
to which the disciplinians had their reservations. Besides they were
not asked by the Ministry to stop the process of probe.
The opening batsman, having served the country to the best of his
ability, termed the board panel's decision "an act of victimisation."
He will be out of action upto April 1999, the cut-off date for
selection to the next World Cup squad. Being caught in the whirlpool
of bias, will he be considered for the national side?
Many veteran cricketers, organisers and analysts feel that making
public statements and maligning the team-mates comes under the
mischief of code of conduct. The charges should have been detailed in
a proper manner, if at all the board was to take up the issue for a
thorough probe and inquiry. However, they are of the view that though
betting and *** had their origin from the days that cricket
started as a recreative pursuit in the village green of England, it
has become an international phenomenon nowadays. The cartels are
active in major Indian cities, Sharjah, England, Australia and the
Caribbean islands. However, throwing of the ties and match-fixing as
addenda to the international *** and betting are new evils which
cannot but be condemned.
The Australians Tim May, Shane Warne and Mark Waugh had complained
against the offer of bribe by Salim Malik, then captaining Pakistan in
the matches on the Australian tour of this country (1994-95 season)
but Mr Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, a former Supreme Court Judge,
forming a one-man inquiry committee, wanted the Australians to give
evidence before him. The complainants refused to turn up and the whole
The disease was infectious. The corruption later spread to Zimbabwe
while the Pakistanis were on tour there under the leadership of Salim
Malik. Even though the Zimbabweans recorded their first surprise
victory in a Test against Pakistan (February 1995) and voices were
raised against match-fixing and a case of a repetition of *** no
notice was taken by the Pakistani board. As recent as this month the
bookies were active in Sharjah and there were doubts that results in
the round-robin stage of the triangular, if not in the final, were
If the Pakistan Cricket Board is not going to launch a full-scale
inquest under neutral personages viz retired members of the higher
judiciary, will the Government of Pakistan step in to start an inquiry
of their own into this malaise and try to scotch this element from the
body of Pakistan cricket.
The severe action against Aamir Sohail, right or wrong, should goad
the Government into action and it should do what the board has failed
to do to save Pakistan's cricket from further infamy.
It is not known if Sohail will make an appeal to the Chief Executive
of the PCB. Though the disciplinary committee considers itself to be
autonomous the Test cricketer may yet move a prayer to the higher
tiers of the board, the Executive Council and the General Body, which
may go into the matter in an objective way.
Former Test captains, cricketers and others have been saddened by the
ban on Aamir Sohail. Hanif Mohammad, known throughout the world for
his cricket exploits, considers the action as too severe. A fine may
have been sufficient.
Intikhab Alam, former captain and manager, said Sohail was a little
bit hot-tempered but that was a challenge for the management to
handle. On the whole Intikhab found him to be a team-man, a fighter to
the core, a quality player, the career of whom scintillates as an
opening batsman and a shrewd spinner.
Some have pointed to the misdemeanours of Brian Lara, Dennis Lillee
and Ian Botham. Lara still is playing the role of an Eminent Grise for
the West Indies while Botham and Lillee gave their full value to the
English and Australian teams.
One expects the PCB panel to have a second look at its action and give
a chance to Aamir Sohail, a daring and valiant batsman, to serve the
national squad as well as he had continued to do.
(Dawn Newspaper http://SportToday.org/)