Pak cricket circle divided over tainted trio's return to team

Last Updated 20 August 2015, 08:33 IST

The ICC might have confirmed that the tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir can return to cricket after the expire of their bans, but a divided house seems to have emerged in Pakistani cricket fraternity over whether they should be allowed to represent the national team again.

Airing his views on the issue, former skipper Rashid Latif said he is totally against any such move.

"I will not support their comeback to international cricket simply because they will replace someone who might not be as talented as them but has done nothing ethnically or morally wrong and had not indulged in corruption," Latif told PTI.

"This is the biggest injustice you can do to players who play clean cricket." It is not just Latif who is against trio's return others have also urged the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to just allow them to play domestic cricket.

"The way I look at this situation it is very wrong for that person to play again for Pakistan who has been involved in corruption and cheating. It is not right for those players who have played by the rules," Latif said.

Latif was the whistleblower on the corruption prevailing in the Pakistan team in the 90s which led to several match fixing inquiries and eventually the Justice Malik Qayyum report which recommended a life ban on Salim Malik and Ata ur Rehman and fines for five other players for not cooperating in the judicial inquiry.

Two of them Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed are presently well paid coaches in the Pakistan team.

Former Pakistan Test opener Mohsin Khan, who served as chief selector and head coach three years back, was also against the trio's comeback in the Pakistan team."These players might have served their punishment but to me it is a huge crime selling or fixing a game involving your country and once you do that you don't deserve a second chance," Mohsin said.

"I belong to the old school of thought and to me it seems very difficult to accommodate or integrate these players back into the national side," he added.

Former Test opener Bazid Khan said what the trio had done was probably the worst thing one could do with cricket and country.

"They have served their bans but the PCB I think needs to make them and others realise the consequences of their crime. It has to set an example for others. Maybe allow them play domestic cricket but not international cricket," Khan said.

Former Pakistan Test captain and now well-known commentator Rameez Raja has also spoken out against allowing the trio back into the Pakistan dressing room.But former Pakistan captain and senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf has pleaded for a second chance for Aamir and Butt.

"The way I look at it if they play domestic cricket and perform well they will be considered for national selection. I don't think either Misbah-ul-Haq or Azhar Ali will have any problems playing with them," he said.

"I also look at this way they did something wrong and bad and they were punished for it. Other players have been allowed back after being guilty of corruption and serving bans so why not these three," Yousuf questioned.

Former Test batsman Basit Ali also spoke in favour of considering trio for national selection if they justified themselves in domestic cricket.

"What has happened has happened and they have accepted their guilt as well and apologised to the nation. Everyone makes mistakes. So why shouldn't they be given a chance to play for Pakistan again depending on their performances," Basit said.

While Aamir has already been playing domestic cricket Butt confirmed yesterday that he would be turning out for the Lahore Blues team in the national T20 championship in to be hdld in Rawalpindi from September 1 to 15.

"I have kept myself fit and strong by playing local cricket matches and training at nets everyday. I am prepared for this big moment," Butt said. "I regret and apologise for what had happened but I have learnt my lesson and I want a chance to be a better person now," he said.

Asif also said on a TV channel that he was looking forward to playing domestic cricket again. "If I perform and do well I deserve to be considered for selection. It is always a fact that best players are given a chance to play and represent their country," Asif said.

(Published 20 August 2015, 08:33 IST)

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