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Friday, May 20, 2011

Pakistan cricket trio ordered before court in July

Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif photographed in 2010
Three Pakistani cricketers and their agent at the centre of cheating allegations must appear before a London court in July, a judge has said.
Salman Butt, 26, Mohammad Asif, 28, and Mohammad Amir, 18, and agent Mazhar Majeed, 35, were not at Southwark Crown Court for the procedural hearing.
The players are accused of "spot-fixing" offences in the fourth Test against England at Lord's last August.
They have always denied the accusations of bowling deliberate no-balls.
Mr Justice Saunders said they must attend in person or via videolink at a preparatory hearing in July although no date was set. A provisional trial date of 4 October has already been set.
The players are charged with cheating and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments.
Mr Majeed, of Oaks Road, Croydon, south London, is accused of accepting £150,000 to arrange for the players to bowl no-balls in Pakistan's Test series at Lord's Cricket Ground in London last summer.
Accepting corrupt payments is an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
Cheating is an offence under Section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005. It carries a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Will this nonsense ever end?

Ijaz Butt on Thursday pushed Pakistan cricket off the track when he sacked Shahid Afridi as captain just when it seemed things were falling in place for the national team.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman replaced Afridi with Misbah-ul-Haq — the veteran batsman who will turn 37 later this month — for the brief, two-match One-day International series against Ireland. Butt didn’t even bother to give any reason for Afridi’s sacking though he did announce that the flamboyant allrounder will continue to be a part of the national team.

“Misbah will lead Pakistan in the two matches against Ireland and Afridi will play as a team member only,” Butt told reporters in Lahore.

It is the eleventh time that Butt has changed a captain during his three-year tenure.

His decision couldn’t have come at a worse time. Under Afridi, Pakistan were finally showing signs of improvement which were evident in their series triumphs over New Zealand and West Indies — both away from home — and their largely positive showing in World Cup 2011.

It’s difficult to find any logic behind this move but there were signs that Butt was mulling over the option of bringing about a change. Recently he claimed about having crushed player power and then announced that he gave Afridi no guarantees about his captaincy.

It was apparent that by bringing in a new one-day captain, Butt wanted to give the message that he is boss. The PCB chief, according to sources, wasn’t happy with Afridi after the allrounder tried to speak about problems within the team management.

Though he didn’t name anybody, Afridi hinted after returning home from the Caribbean earlier this month that there was friction between him and Pakistan coach Waqar Younis. “It’s Butt’s way to teach Afridi a lesson,” said a source in the PCB. “The PCB chief can’t tolerate any act of indiscipline.”

However earlier this month, Butt did overlook a similar ‘act of indiscipline’ when he opted against taking any action when chief selector Mohsin Khan ran towards the media after being snubbed by the PCB chief over team selection for the Test series against West Indies.

Butt came under heavy fire for removing Afridi. “He helped you reach the World Cup semifinals. He was the best bowler of the World Cup. He led the team to back-to-back series wins and still got the sack. Its mind boggling,” said Salahuddin Ahmed ex- Test player.

“Afridi was a successful captain because he managed to bring the best out of a team that included a number of mediocre players,” he said referring to the fact that under Afridi Pakistan won 18 ODIs and lost in 15. Many of the wins came against stronger teams like South Africa, England and Australia.

Salahuddin also lamented PCB’s double standards.

“If he (Afridi) was sacked over indiscipline then why did the board fell short of taking similar action against others who have openly violated its code of conduct,” he asked.

Iqbal Qasim, the former Test spinner, lamented that PCB has become a one-man show. “Afridi has been punished for taking Pakistan to World Cup semifinals. This decision smacks of a one-man show in the PCB,” he said.

However, Zaheer Abbas was of the view that the Board cannot ignore disciplinary breaches. “Though I like Afridi, I must say that he shouldn’t have been giving irresponsible statements,” said the former Test batsman.

Meanwhile, Pakistan have made three changes in the squad with misfiring opener Ahmed Shehzad, Usman Salahuddin and pacer Sadaf Hussain failing to retain their places in the squad. Former Pakistan captain Younis Khan, who missed the Tests against West Indies because of his brother’s death is back along with Umar Gul. Also earning a spot in the line-up is Azhar Ali.

Pakistan squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan, Taufiq Umar, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Salman, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Tanvir Ahmed, Junaid Khan and Hammad Azam.

Fans criticize Afridi's removal as Pakistan ODI captain

 Fans of Shahid Afridi have taken their cause to social networking website Facebook, criticizing Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt for removing the enigmatic allrounder as captain for this month's one-day series against Ireland.
On a Facebook page titled "We hate Ijaz Butt remove him as PCB chairman," fans have been candid in posting their comments in favour of Afridi.
One fan wrote that he will not support the Pakistan cricket team against Ireland, saying: "Bye bye Pakistan cricket team."
Another fan advised Butt to quit as chairman PCB, saying "Go home dude!!! Stop destroying Pakistan cricket....!!!"
Misbah-ul-Haq was named Pakistan captain Thursday for the two ODIs against Ireland, to be played in the Northern Ireland capital Belfast. The decision to replace Afridi as captain apparently came after he criticized team management following the ODI series against the West Indies.

'Sacking Afridi was a big mistake'

'Sacking Afridi was a big mistake'
Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram has slammed PCB for appointing Misbah-ul-Haq as ODI skipper, saying the 36-year old has no future.

Wasim Akram is upset after Pakistan Cricket Board sacked Shahid Afridi as the country’s ODI skipper. In an exclusive chat with Mobile ESPN on Friday evening from Kolkata, Akram said, "It was wrong to sack Afridi, who has recently brought glory to the country against all odds."

The PCB discarded the maverick Afridi as Pakistan's ODI captain after reports of his rift with coach Waqar Younis became public. The two clashed over selection matters during the ongoing series with the West Indies and the cricket Board was certainly not amused. On Thursday, Afridi was dumped and Misbah-ul-Haq was named skipper.

The PCB's move to strip Afridi has not gone down well in Pakistan and Akram too is unhappy at the decision. He feels PCB's decision lacks logic and it was disrespectful of them to sack Afridi for "trivial matters."

"Arguments between captains and coaches are not new in Pakistan cricket. Afridi was hailed as a national hero after the World Cup, and came back from the West Indies after winning the ODI series only to find out he has been sacked. What is the PCB upto?" fumed Akram,

Akram pointed out that the Afridi sacking has once again shown the PCB in poor light. Akram has questioned the Board's decision to appoint Misbah as ODI skipper. He feels the 36-year-old middle order batsman is "at best a stop-gap arrangement."

"The present Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq is on the wrong side of 30 and I don't see him leading the side beyond 6 to 8 months", said Akram.

Akram, a former Pakistan skipper, said constant shuffling of players and captains never helps the team's cause, and the latest decision may hit the team hard. "It is a wrong step taken by PCB, and only (chairman) Ijaz Butt is to be blamed for this", Akram said.

"In Pakistan, the coach wants all the power and when it doesn't happen, the fight begins," Akram said. The former speedster, now the bowling coach of Indian T20 team Kolkata, himself has faced such situations and this time it was Afridi's turn.

Pakistan cricket can never breathe easy!

Harbhajan singh called a rascal by Sri lankan commentator !!

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