Pak finally yields, drops tainted players

Zeecric Bureau

London: Succumbing to the pressure from ICC and ECB, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) dropped the tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif from the Pakistan ODI and T20 squad for England series, team manager Yawar Saeed confirmed on Thursday.

The three have been implicated in a ‘spot-fixing’ scandal “exposed” in a British tabloid’s sting operation last week.

The decision came after PCB officials met their counterparts from England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in London to discuss the match-fixing scandal that has rocked the cricket world.

“We are 13 this morning and it will remain the same. We have asked for replacements for the three players who have gone. We will remain 13 for the first two Twenty20 matches,” Saeed told reporters.

“It was my decision to drop them. The players will return home immediately and their replacements will be announced shortly,” he added.

However, Saeed added that no player has been suspended as of now.

PCB was under tremendous pressure from the International Cricket Council (ICC) and ECB, both of whom made it clear that the players had to be dropped for the series to go on.

England’s Professional Cricketers’ Association had also demanded their sacking, saying that the host players would find it very tough to carry on against the three, who allegedly took money from a bookie to bowl no balls during the Lord’s Test last week.

Former Pakistan cricketers had also openly voiced their opinion against the tainted trio, saying that anyone proven guilty should be banned for life.

Surrendering to the pressure, PCB made an announcement through team manager Saeed, saying that the suspected players have been dropped till they are cleared of all charges.

The decision to drop the players came shortly after PCB chief Ejaz Butt claimed in an interview to an English broadcaster that the trio may feature in the England series unless proven guilty.

Meanwhile, the Senator of the PCB Standing Committee gave out a strong message, saying that the board will not tolerate any misdeeds within the team.

In an interview to an Indian news channel, the senator said that the PCB vouched for “clean cricket” and the players, who have been alleged with charges of spot-fixing, will be banned for life if they are found guilty.

The PCB also said that none of the three will be included in the team for any tournament whatsoever, till the time they are cleared of all charges.

The senator added that this decision has been made keeping in mind the sentiments of the people of Pakistan.

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