Pak cricket community shocked after London Police charges trio
Karachi: Tainted trio of Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir sent more shockwaves to cricket community in Pakistan after Britain`s Crown Prosecution Service decided to charge the already suspended players of taking bribes and defraud during the England tour last year.
The news from London came hours after the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed that Shahid Afridi will lead the side in the World Cup this month.
The framing of charges came just a day before an International Cricket Council tribunal announces its conclusions in the spot-fixing scandal in Doha tomorrow, which rocked the world cricket last year. The tribunal interrogated the players over 45 hours in Doha last month.
Many leading players avoided comments on the sensitive issue but those who spoke out said they were shocked by the charges brought against Butt, Asif and Aamir.
"We were waiting to see what happens tomorrow in Doha and now this news comes. It basically means that the cricketers now not only face cricketing sanctions but also criminal charges and this is really bad for the image of Pakistan cricket," former captain Zaheer Abbas said.
"I really don`t know all the details right now and have just heard about it on television. But it is a huge disappointment and it means now we have to prepare to defend ourselves on another front," Muhammad Aamir told a television channel in Doha.
"Myself and my lawyer are still looking into the details of the announcement by the British Crown Prosecution Office and will take it from there, but right now the important thing is the verdict announcement tomorrow," he said.
Former captain Rashid Latif said the players are now in deep trouble and would have to hire best lawyers to defend themselves against all charges.
"Being summoned to appear in a British court on corruption charges is a big thing and it is a sad day for Pakistan cricket," Latif said.
Former pace bowler Sikander Bakht described the announcement as a bad day for Pakistan cricket that would bring more problems to the three players.
"I don`t know but maybe we might now have a situation where the ICC tribunal decides to hold its verdict until these criminal charges are sorted out in March," Bakht said.
The three players have been summoned by the Crown Prosecution Service to appear in a Westminister court on March 17 to formally face the charges against them. Former test batsman and ex-national selector, Basit Ali said the announcement was a big blow for Pakistan cricket and added the pressure on the national team to play well in the World Cup.
"Our cricket image has taken a beating due to these unfortunate off the field happenings which have brought a bad name to us. I don`t want to comment on the outcome because until now the players have not been proven guilty. But I know one thing we must do well in the World Cup to tell the world that our cricket is not about these things but about cricket and we are a strong cricket nation," Basit added.
The Pakistan Cricket Board`s legal advisor, Tafazzul Rizvi and media manager, Nadeem Sarwar declined to make comments on the matter saying the board would stay away from the matter.