ICC’s decision evokes mixed reactions in Pak cricket community

Karachi: The ICC’s decison to reject Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir’s appeals against their suspensions for alleged involvement in spot-fixing has evoked mixed reactions from the cricket community in Pakistan, with former leg-spinner Abdul Qadir terming the whole process as “farce”.

“It is total farce. If the ICC wasn’t interested in revoking the suspensions, why go through this farce at all?” Qadir questioned.

Qadir lashed out at the ICC for its double standards, in a thinly-veiled reference to Indian batsman Suresh Raina, who was also suspected of having links with a woman alleged to have worked for a bookmaker during the team’s tour of Sri Lanka.

“The Sri Lankan board even sent a report to the Indians about it but nothing has been done so far and the matter was hushed up by the ICC and Raina continues to play,” Qadir said.

“As things stand there is suspicion about Raina’s links with the woman and the same is the case with our players against whom nothing has been proved. Yet they remain suspended and the Indian batsman is free to play on,” the former leggie said.

“I say bring Raina also into the dock,” he added.

The ICC code of conduct commissioner Michael Beloff today rejected the appeals of Test captain Butt and young left-arm pacer Amir. Fast bowler Asif had also challenged the suspension, but withdrew his appeal later.

After the tribunal’s decision, quite a few former players said they had felt all along that until the spot-fixing allegations against the players were cleared, the suspensions would remain in place.

Former captain Rashid Latif told PTI that until Scotland Yard submits its findings into the case to the ICC, suspensions of all the three players should be removed.

“The real issue remains the spot-fixing allegations and I think until Scotland Yard submits its findings, the ICC should remove these suspensions.

“I know it must be disappointing for the players to not have their suspensions removed but they must now prepare for the full hearing because the spot-fixing allegations are serious ones,” said Latif.

Former captain Asif Iqbal said the outcome of the tribunal hearing was expected.

“What worries me is the long time taken in the hearing, which indicates the anti-corruption unit must have submitted plenty of evidence and brief to the commissioner,” Iqbal said.

He also noted that the ICC only imposed the suspensions because the Pakistan Cricket Board didn’t withdraw the trio from the tour of England when the allegations first surfaced. Former captain Zaheer Abbas said he was sad for the players and the PCB had a lot to answer for.

“I know what they must be going through but in all this the PCB should come forward. It is their duty now to ensure that the players get proper support and help in preparing for the full hearing later on,” he said.

British tabloid ‘News of the World’ had shook the cricket world with a sting operation, which had suspected bookmaker Mazhar Majeed who had claimed that he paid bribes to three cricketers for sending down no-balls during the Lord’s Test against England in late August.

Scotland Yard is also carrying out a separate investigation into the case and has spoken to the three players and Majeed.

The three players were suspended on September 2.

Former chief executive of the PCB, Arif Abbasi said the ICC had followed a proper procedure and given a fair hearing to the players.

“But I think, with the spot-fixing allegations still pending, this outcome was expected. I don’t think the ICC would suspend any player for so long without having concrete reason for doing so,” he said.

Former Test player and chief selector Iqbal Qasim said because of poor administration and management, it was Pakistan cricket team that had suffered.

“Obviously the team is missing these three players but I think the ICC decision was expected. But the PCB must now press the ICC to deal quickly with the allegations so that this issue can be sorted out,” he said.

He said it was good in a way for the players to have attended such a marathon hearing as they would now be better prepared for the full hearing.

Qasim said he felt sad to hear that Amir had broken down during the hearing and cried.

“One can only sympathise with him at this stage but I just hope one day he will be cleared to play for Pakistan again,” he added.

The legal advisor of the PCB, Tafazzul Rizvi said the hearing was held under the ICC anti-corruption laws and the players could now only appeal when a full hearing was held by the ICC code of conduct commission.

“This hearing was called by the ICC to give the players a chance to appeal against the suspensions on them. But the case of full spot-fixing allegations would be dealt with when the full hearing is held,” he said.

Rizvi said even if the players were found guilty at the full hearing, they had the right to appeal with the court of arbitration for sports in Lausanne.

Pakistan pace bowler, Mohammad Asif, when contacted, declined to comment on the hearing outcome insisting that only his lawyer was authorised to speak on the matter.

“I have said before we are preparing for the full hearing when it is held by the ICC,” he stated.

Lawyer Aftab Gul, who represented Butt, was left disappointed after the outcome of the hearing.

“We are returning home tomorrow and I will then inform the Pakistani people of this case,” Gul said from Dubai.