Former Pakistan greats on Thursday expressed doubts about the official reason for the withdrawal of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif from the World Cup.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has insisted that the pace pair were ruled out due to injury and denied reports that the decision was to prevent the pair having to take doping tests.
“I can’t believe that they have been pulled out because of fitness,” said former bowler Sarfraz Nawaz, who took 177 wickets in 55 Tests for Pakistan in the 1970s and 1980s and was known as the pioneer of reverse swing.
“Two days ago (captain) Inzamam-ul-Haq said in a statement that both are fit and will play in the World Cup. And both attended a training camp so I think the outside world would definitely not accept the reason of fitness,” he reminded.
Nawaz said Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, the patron of the PCB, should take action against the board’s chiefs for not resolving the matter sooner and “for giving a bad name to Pakistan”.
“Pakistan’s chances were very dim even before Shoaib and Asif pulled out. Now they have no chance,” Nawaz said.
Former captain and coach Javed Miandad said there were “hints that doping would be the issue” before the decision was taken.
One indication was when Danish Zaheer, vice-president of the Asian Federation of Sports Medicine, warned last month that Akhtar and Asif could be banned for life if they tested positive again.
“We should have told the true reason. Cricket is a fair game, transparent and you need to make bold decisions to keep your team clean,” Miandad said.
“We kept the world in the dark, the Pakistani people are in the dark about whether Shoaib and Asif would play or not,” he expressed.
“Now they are calling the players from their homes to come and play in the World Cup,” he added, referring to the last-minute call-up of replacements Yasir Arafat and Mohammad Sami.
“Pakistan wasted time on something which was not available, they should have devised a strategy long before. It’s total mismanagement and miscalculation by the selectors,” he explained.
Miandad added that the PCB had failed to learn from the 1992 World Cup when selectors omitted him from the squad on fitness grounds. They relented under public pressure and Miandad’s 437 runs helped Pakistan lift the trophy. “We are not learning from our past mistakes,” he said.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Friday, March 2nd, 2007 and is filed under World Cup 2007.
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