Pak HC defends tainted trio, says they ‘opted out’

Zeecric Bureau

London: Shortly after team manager Yawar Saeed confirmed that the tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir had been dropped from the forthcoming England series, Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan came out in their defence, saying that the players were “traumatised” and had voluntarily opted out of the series.

Addressing the reporters outside the Pakistan High commission in London, Hasan said that the players “were innocent until proven guilty” and that the High Commission will defend them in the court of law.

“They are Pakistan nationals, and it is our duty to support them in the court of law,” Hasan said.

Hasan said that the players were not dropped from the ODI and T20 series against England. On the contrary, it was due to the “mental torture” they have been going through in the past few days that has refrained them from going ahead with the remainder of the matches.

The British tabloid which "exposed" the spot-fixing scandal, threatened to come out with more details after Pakistan High Commissioner to Britain defended the tainted trio and said they will get full support to clear their names.

This was indicated by the News of the World when it was contacted by The Independent newspaper, without elaborating.

“The players are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week. They asserted that are entirely innocent,” he said.

Hasan 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.

"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," he 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."

“They have been levelled with very serious charges and the mental torture has deeply affected them. They are currently not in the right frame of mind to play the remainder of the matches and have voluntarily asked the PCB to rest them,” he added.

This statement came shortly after team manager Saeed said that the players had been dropped from the T20 and ODI series against England and their replacements will be announced later.

Hasan blatantly refused to acknowledge the pictures and video footages as decisive evidence against the players, saying that, he too was a journalist in the past and knew how pictures can be manipulated.

He also denied any pressure from the ICC and ECB, saying that the players were not ‘rested’ due to some external pressure.

“There is no pressure from ICC, why should they pressurise us? The players have voluntarily opted out, and have NOT been dropped,” Hasan asserted.

He further said that the players will stay in England for the time being and their passports are with the team manager, opposing the common belief that the passports are with Scotland Yard.

“They (the players) are here, they are not running away,” he said.

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