Thursday, 19 July 2012

Kamran Akmal cleared despite ‘suspicion’

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI:  Some people call him a wicket-keeper, while others consider him as a ball-stopper only. In whatever case, Kamran Akmal has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Ever since his emergence on the scene he is considered as a dependable batsman but at the same time is seen as a dodgy glove-man.

When he was away, people wanted to know the reason, now when he has made his way back to the team, the cricketing world is curious again.

The 30-year old Wicket-keeper batsman was accused of deliberately under-performing during Pakistan's defeat against Australia in the 2010 Sydney Test. After the tour, a probe committee was constituted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which recorded statements of players and officials. During the inquiry it was suspected that Akmal deliberately under-performed and failed to run Shane Watson out and dropped three chances on Michael Hussey during the Sydney test.

Kamran Akmal's name was mentioned at the notorious spot-fixing trial in England as well, but was neither summoned by the London court nor banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Before his inclusion in the 15-member national T20 squad, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) stated that the wicket-keeper was summoned by the Integrity Committee and asked to submit some material.

A source closed to the development has revealed to this correspondent that during the meeting the members of the integrity committee were not entirely satisfied with Akmal’s viewpoint; however they had no other choice but to provide him with a clean chit. “A great deal of suspicion on him was there, but he could not be penalised on the basis of severe doubts only. We needed concrete evidence, which was not there against him.” said the source.

“The selection committee also wanted his services while the Anti-corruption and Security Unit of the ICC had already given him the clearance, hence there was no room left to clamp him”, concludes the source.

A 53-test veteran, Akmal, was axed from the team after a dismal keeping behind the stumps at the World Cup in 2011 where he dropped New Zealand's Ross Taylor twice in one over.

Despite the allegations, Kamran claimed to have a clearance letter from the ICC saying he is not being investigated.

Since his debut in 2002, Kamran Akmal has played 53 Tests, 137 ODIs and 38 T20Is matches for Pakistan.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Pakistan T20 Squad and a few questions

Nine players were also present in the last World T20 Cup squad

By Muhammad Asif Khan

The passion for Cricket in Pakistan is overwhelming and this is the very reason why the game is discussed in almost every gathering.  The followers have their say on the issues related to the game and they don’t let an opportunity to comment go by whenever a decision is taken by the authorities at the helm of affairs.

Chopping and changing in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) setup do raise eyebrows however when it comes to the National team selection the mood swing of the enthusiasts is evident. The story was not different after the announcement of the 15-member squad for the World T20 Cup which is scheduled to be held in September this year.

There is no doubt that the squad announced for the mega event was strong on paper but a few inclusions need clarification. Before jumping to the list of players the question is that why the PCB was in a hurry? - the deadline to submit the final squad is mid August - At the time when other teams are only finalising their provisional 30-man squad for ICC World Twenty20, we have already curtailed the squad to 15.

Now coming to the squad and starting with Kamran Akmal, who had been out of favour since last 15 months for his alleged involvements in the wrongdoing, got a nod but the question still remains that why his selection was put on hold in the first place? Why his selection was subjected to the clearance from the Integrity Committee and the most important aspect is that what was presented before the integrity committee by Kamran Akmal to get the clean chit?

In the All-rounders’ category, the selection committee banked on the experience of Abdul Razzaq who was dropped from earlier assignments due to non participation in the domestic events. On the snub the all-rounder (Razzaq) went berserk and questioned the credibility of the selectors however the dust somehow settled and he is back in the team. His recent performance in England was good thou. Furthermore, another all-rounder in the list, Yasir Arafat seems to have a magic wand in his hand because he plays in the U.K., and gets into the team from nowhere.

Ahmed Shehzad, the tailor-made batsman for the shortest version, was snubbed but not on technical grounds. As per reports he was overlooked due to his negative attitude and erratic behaviour, again something is fishy.

Junaid Khan, the fast bowler, who bowled his heart out in Sri Lanka, however his superb bowling form was not considered enough, and the reason, is best known by the selectors only.

Drifting away from the team combination, it’s time to look into the vision of the authorities running the game in the country. Every now and then we read and hear statements about the futuristic approach by the authorities, but on ground the situation is not so and the example is the recently announced 15-member squad for the World T20 cup 2012.

Before the last edition of the mega event in 2010, the then selection committee assembled a bunch of 17 players and amazingly after around 28 month the incumbent selection committee accumulated the squad in which 9 players were in 2010 squad as well.

Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Muhammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Muhammad Sami and Yasir Arafat were included in the 2010 squad and later on Umar Gul and Yasir Arafat were withdrawn from it to make it a 15-member bunch which took part in the 2010 World T20 Cup in the West Indies. If this is called the futuristic approach then God knows where are we heading and where would we end up at he end of the day. The key to running any business successfully is the check and balance as well as the just approach but I am afraid we are lacking on both accounts.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Kaneria feels he was made a scapegoat by ECB

By Muhammad Asif Khan

LONDON: Slapped with a lifetime ban, for his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal,
by the Disciplinary panel of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the former Essex and Pakistan Leg-spinner, Danish Kaneria feels that he was ‘mistreated’ by the ECB panel as, according to him, the judgment was ‘pre-determined’. “My lawyers were not even heard properly during the hearing. I was given a harsh treatment even without concrete evidence against me”, said Kaneria while talking to this correspondent.

Kaneria has already filed an appeal against the life ban imposed by the (ECB) on July 12 2012 for spot-fixing in a pro-40 match played in 2009. Kaneria was found guilty of two charges following a contested hearing which was held in London. In view of the charges the ECB banned him (Kaneria) for life from any involvement in the playing, organisation or administration of any cricket under the jurisdiction of the (ECB).

Later the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also endorsed the ECB ban, saying that as per the International Cricket Council (ICC) rules Kaneria would remain suspended pending his appeal.

Only months prior to the ECB hearing Kaneria’s county teammate Marven Westfield, during criminal proceedings in a London court, admitted to have underperformed in match against Durham in 2009 allegedly on the behest of Danish Kaneria. Although, London Police never charged Kaneria in that case due to lack of evidence.

Danish Kaneria further claimed that he was made scapegoat in the fixing episode, adding that he had nothing to do with Westfield’s involvement in the menace. According to Kaneria – the most successful spin bowler of Pakistan – during the hearing of the appeal his lawyers would also want to question Westfield. “In an appeal my lawyers have requested for the formation of an independent panel. We also want to question Westfield during the proceedings, because we believe that probably in order to have his sentence reduced, Westfield pleaded guilty and accused me of instigating him”, said Kaneria who have taken 261 wickets in 61 test matches for Pakistan.

“The trail of the appeal should be transparent in which media should also be allowed to witness the proceedings”, concludes Kaneria.

In May 2010, Kaneria was arrested by the Essex police in connection with “match irregularities” in the 2009 domestic season. The investigations are believed to focus on a NatWest Pro40 match in September 2009, which Essex won.