M A I N   N E W S

Packed back to Pak
Dropped from series, but Pak govt rallies behind them

Players are innocent: Pak envoy

Wajid S Hasan, Pak High Commissioner said in London they are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week. The players have maintained that they are innocent and on account of the mental torture that has hugely affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play any further.

Veena submits ‘proof’ to ICC

Veena MalikMohammad Asif’s estranged girlfriend, Veena Malik, has handed over “proof” of his alleged links with Indian bookies to the ICC. “I have handed over Asif’s voice recordings with the bookie to the ICC official,” Malik told reporters.

London/Karachi, September 2
Bowing to intense pressure, Pakistan today left out Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir from the Twenty20 and ODI series against England but strongly defended them, saying they opted out because of “mental torture” and will get all the support to clear their names in the ‘spot-fixing’ scandal.

The dramatic development came after a series of meetings between the ICC, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the England and Wales Cricket Board officials in the backdrop of the host players’ refusal to play against the implicated cricketers.

As the three players met High Commissioner Wajid S Hasan in London, team manager Yawar Saeed made the announcement that they have been left out from the squad for the two Twenty20s and five one-dayers against England starting Sunday.

“The Twenty20 squad will remain what it is here this morning, that is 13 people,” he told reporters in Taunton where the team is playing a warm-up match against Somerset.

But within a few hours, the Pakistan High Commissioner said that the players had opted out and had not been dropped from the squad.

“We are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week. They have maintained that they are innocent and on account of the mental torture that has hugely affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play any further,” Hasan told reporters.

“Therefore, they have requested the Pakistan Cricket Board not to consider them for the rest of the matches until their names are cleared,” he added.

Hasan defended the players and insisted that they remain innocent until proven guilty. He also rejected reports that the players are due to be grilled by the Scotland Yard today and said the three would remain in England for the investigations.

“The investigations are on and we will have to wait for the reports. There are no meetings with the Scotland Yard today. They have voluntarily asked for their names not be included in the team. They will definitely remain in England,” he said.

Asked whether the passports of the three players had been confiscated by the Scotland Yard, Hasan said, “Their passports are with the team manager.” Hasan said the players’ morale is low but they would not run away from the investigations.

“They are here, they are not running away. They are innocent and they are defending their innocence. They are upright young men, in fact one of them (Mohammad Aamir) created a record of taking 50 wickets in the shortest time. We will give them whatever support they might need,” he said.

“Serious charges have been levelled against them and they have to defend themselves. They will even go to court to for that. There have been such incidents in the past. You remember what happened between Imran Khan and Ian Botham, Imran won the case,” Hasan added referring to a 1996 instance when Imran defended himself in a libel action brought by Botham and Allan Lamb over ball-tampering.

Asked to comment on the ‘News of the World’ sting operation on a bookie which started the furore and the photographs of the players with the alleged bookmaker, Hasan said, “I have seen many pictures. I have been a journalist all my life. So, I know what pictures mean.” Earlier, Saeed said replacements would be sought for the three players.

“When we play the one-day internationals we will be asking for replacements to make the squad up to 16,” he said.

Saeed, however, refused to answer questions on the Scotland Yard investigation for which the players’ phones have reportedly been confiscated.

The PCB was under intense pressure to oust the tainted trio. ECB chief Giles Clarke welcomed the ouster of the players ahead of the series.

However, Pakistan’s Sports Minister Aijaz Jakhrani said the players may play the one-day series. — PTI





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