Pakistan return home on Friday amid tight security

Updated: Sep 23, 2010, 23:04 PM IST

Karachi: Pakistan’s scandal-ridden cricket team will return home on Friday with uncertainty looming large over the board set-up amidst growing rumours of changes in the PCB.

The Pakistani players, who have left England for Dubai, will take connecting flights to their home towns in batches even as authorities have arranged for unprecedented security at the airports.

Captain, Shahid Afridi will return to his hometown here along with Fawad Alam and Asad Shafiq while rest of the players will be heading for Lahore or Rawalpindi.

“No one is sure what sort of reception the players will get on their return from the controversial tour to England,” a source in the Pakistan Cricket Board said.

The players return home after losing the Test, Twenty20 and ODI series amidst strong rumours that the government is likely to remove Ijaz Butt as PCB chairman and also order other changes in the cricketing set-up.

“Former Test captain Zaheer Abbas and former President of International Cricket Council (ICC) Ehsan Mani are said to be strong candidates to take over from Butt,” one well informed source said.

He pointed out England and Wales Cricket Board letter to the PCB today, demanding an official apology for Butt’s remarks on English players could turn out to be the final nail in the current PCB chief’s coffin.

“Zaheer and Mani are equally strong candidates to take over as PCB chief and both are being pushed by strong lobbies in the government,” the source said.

“They are also unconfirmed reports that summaries of both of them have already been sent to President Asif Ali Zardari for approval,” he said.

Interestingly, Mani, who normally keeps a low profile, has been a harsh critic of the Butt regime for mishandling and misreading the spot fixing allegations.

Butt is also accused of spoiling relations with ICC and other boards with his failure to read the situation well.

“Lot will now depend on what outcome the Crown Prosecutor’s office in London gives on the file of evidence submitted by the Scotland Yard on the spot fixing allegations against the Pakistani players,” the source stated.

“The main charge that is being considered against Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir is whether they are involved in defrauding the bookmakers,” the source said.