Karachi: A stunned Pakistan cricket fraternity today reacted with shock and anger to the latest ‘spot-fixing’ scandal that rocked the national team in the fourth Test against England at Lord’s.
Although London Metropolitan police had only arrested one Mazhar Majeed for allegedly paying bribes to some players to spot-fix the ongoing Test and no cricketer has not been charged but the cricket community here felt damage has already been done to the reputation of the game in the country.
They said the accused players and the team management should be called back home immediately and prompt steps be taken to deal with the scandal.
“So far these are only allegations but they have also already caused our image and credibility great harm because of management by the Pakistan Board and the officials in England,” former Test captain Aamir Sohail said.
Sohail demanded the immediate calling back of the accused players and Pakistan team management in the wake of the ‘spot-fixing’ allegations.
“I think it is time for the Chief Patron of the Board, President Asif Zardari to act now and call back the accused players and the entire management from England,” he said.
“Damage control steps need to be taken immediately and I don’t think these players who have been accused should remain with the team neither the officials under whose nose all this took place,” he added.
Former Test player Iqbal Qasim said he was shocked to hear about the ‘spot-fixing’ allegations.
“I woke up early morning for Sehri to keep fast and believe me what I saw on television left me numb. I just pray all this turns out to be untrue because it is hard to believe that a 18-year old player (Muhammad Aamir) could be involved in spot-fixing,” Qasim said.
Former Pakistan pacer Sarfraz Nawaz said he had been saying all along there was something fishy going on in the team.
“There is so much indiscipline in this team because of the lenient attitude of the board. This was bound to happen. I say try the players found guilty of corruption and also those officials who failed to deliver for the country,” he stated.
Senators Haroon Akhtar and Tariq Azeem, who are members of the Senate Standing Committee on Sports, blamed the PCB and its chairman for the current scandal.
“Ijaz Butt had promised us way back in March the Board would take action against players suspected of having links with bookmakers. He later backed out on his word and said we had misinterpreted the briefing,” Akhtar said.
“In the briefing it was clear even after the Australian tour they were suspicions raised about some players who were allowed to play on in the team,” he added.
Tariq Azeem said President Zardari needed to sack the current set-up in the PCB immediately and call back the players accused of fixing.
“Enough is enough Pakistan cricket has already been damaged a lot. This is the final straw the President must act now,” Azeem said.
Noted jurist, Farkhruddin G Ibrahim, who represented former captain Saleem Malik and other players in the famous inquiry into match fixing allegations held by Justice (retd) Malik Qayyum in 1998 and 1999, had words of caution, saying that so far there were only allegations against the players.
“Nothing has been proved as yet but the onus is now on the ICC and PCB to show the world the truth. If this situation continues this way people will never trust cricketers or administrators,” he said.
The cricket fans on the street reacted with anger, saying that the accused players should be immediately called back for bringing shame to Pakistan cricket.
“Yes they should call back these players and put them on trial. Find out the truth but don?t allow them to remain there now. They have brought shame for us in this holy month of Ramazan,” said Saleem Ahmed, a hawker in one of Karachi’s busiest shopping areas, Saddar.
“How can we now believe that these players are honest with their country and themselves. It is shameful,” Khurrum, a shopkeeper selling bangles for the festival of Eid, said.