Monday, 29 April 2013

In talks with ECB for bowlers’ exchange programme: Zaka Ashraf

Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Zaka Ashraf has been taking numerous steps for the betterment of Pakistan cricket and in this regard, chalking out an exchange programme with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is one of the major strides in the future. “We are in talks with the ECB to finalise an exchange programme under which our fast bowlers will tour England, while young English spinners will come to Pakistan”, said Zaka Ashraf while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.

“Five or six young fast bowlers will be sent to the academies in England, and similarly their spinners will come here to get trained. This exchange will help both the countries”, hoped Zaka Ashraf, who took over as the PCB chairman in October 2011.

On a question, the chairman made it clear that whenever the PCB deals with another ICC member board, the interest of Pakistan cricket is kept supreme. “Nobody should take Pakistan for granted. We deal with everyone – including the BCCI – on a single agenda of benefiting the Pakistan cricket.” said Zaka Ashraf

“India has a huge economic market hence the cricketing world keeps strong ties with the BCCI. Pakistan is doing the same by keeping its own interest intact”

“India has also been very supportive, however we will do whatever it takes to benefit Pakistan Cricket the most”, concludes the PCB chairman.

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Friday, 19 April 2013

With grants, Afghanistan need exposure too: Rashid Latif

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Former Head coach of the Afghanistan national Cricket team, Rashid Latif, while welcoming the recent grant announcement, urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to create an opportunity for frequent international fixtures for the ‘passionate’ Afghan team as well. “Along with funds, they [Afghan cricketers] also need support to excel at the international level. The ICC should arrange international tours for the team”, said Latif while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.

“Afghan team is a bunch of passionate cricketers, who can be very good at test level too if provided with appropriate support”, added Latif

Earlier this week, the ICC allocated US$ 422,000 for Afghanistan, from the ICC's Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme (TAPP), which is aimed at developing more competitive teams among Full Members and Associate/Affiliate Members.

As per the ICC press release, this funding for the ACB was for the development of the National Cricket Academy in Kabul and is subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions.

Rashid Latif, while recalling his experience in the war-ravaged country, said that during his stint as coach he was highly impressed with the talent and enthusiasm for Cricket in Afghanistan.

“I was eyeing a Test status for them in two years time, and I still believe it’s not very far from reality. The more exposure they will get, the more confident they will become”, said Latif

“Matches against county teams as well with test playing nations will enhance their skills as well as confidence”, concludes Rashid Latif. 

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What is next for Asif and Butt?

Muhammad Asif Khan

After the International Cricket Council (ICC), independent anti-corruption tribunal and the London court, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) also upheld the penalties imposed by the ICC on Pakistani crickets Muhammad Asif and Salman Butt.

After ICC’s suspensions, during the January 2011 hearing in Doha, an independent anti-corruption tribunal handed Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif 10 and 7 years bans respectively, out of which five years were suspended on condition that, throughout that period, both would not commit any further breach of the code and would participate in anti-corruption education programmes.

Later in November 2011, Salman Butt along with Muhammad Amir – banned for five years - failed to reduce their sentences after the lord chief justice rejected their appeals, telling their legal teams that the pair had been guilty of "criminal conduct of a very serious kind".

The interesting aspect, during the hearing, was the statement of Salman Butt’s lawyer, Ali Bajwa who argued that Salman Butt's sentence was "out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence that was committed". For the first time Bajwa admitted that Butt had been involved in arranging the no-balls – something that emerged neither in the trial nor in his mitigation-plea hearing – and that this was a criminal offence, but he claimed that spot fixing of individual events was at the "lower end of the scale" of such offences, with result fixing the gravest. Bajwa described Butt as a broken man in a state of "ruin and disgrace".

Then comes the latest CAS appeal hearing where Asif challenged the suspension by the ICC tribunal but on the other hand Salman Butt only requested that the sanction be reduced to less than five years. Why Salman only sough reduction? Doesn’t it mean he accepted the charge against him? Of course, because prior to him, his lawyer admitted that as well (as mentioned above)

Now Salman Butt is eyeing a return after serving the 5-year period out of which he had already served little over 30 months, but it is not that simple.

Both Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif have to complete the five-year period first and then as per the article 6.7 of the ICC Anti-corruption code, both have to go through a procedure to earn eligibility to hit a cricket ground again.

The article 6.7 of the ICC Anti-corruption code states that once the period of ineligibility – five years - has expired they (Asif & Butt) will automatically become re-eligible to play provided that they had

·        Completed an official anti-corruption education session to the reasonable satisfaction of the ACSU.

·        Satisfied, in full, any fine and/or award of costs made against them by any Anti-Corruption Tribunal or CAS panel

·        Agreed to subject them to such additional reasonable and proportionate monitoring procedures and requirements as the ACSU's General Manager may reasonably consider necessary given the nature and scope of the offence committed.

Now the scenario is pretty clear, unless Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif fulfill the above mentioned pre-requisites their return does not seem possible.

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Umpires escape a much tougher ban

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: After a lengthy session of the integrity committee, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), on Saturday imposed four and three years ban on umpires Nadeem Ghouri and Anis Siddiqui respectively, however a source familiar with the development revealed that the two umpires had actually escaped a much server sanction. “The offence was of the serious nature and after thorough review of the hours long video evidence some members even suggested a life ban on the umpires”, said the source.
“Nadeem and Anis are educated and experienced umpires, hence instead of being involved in lengthy conversations, they should have given them a shut-up call straightaway”, added the source

Meanwhile the umpires are entitled to file an appeal against the ban within 30 days. Their appeals will be heard by PCB’s independent arbitrator.

Earlier commenting on the occasion Chairman PCB Zaka Ashraf said, "The PCB has a zero tolerance policy for corruption or indiscipline. We are committed on creating awareness amongst our players and officials with regards to the possible pitfalls, and are determined to adopt all vigilance and security parameters, which are in line with the laid out procedures of the ICC. Today's decision reiterates the commitment of the PCB to keep our great sport free of all corrupt practices", a PCB press release said.

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

WICB is ready, but PCB is not

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Although the Pakistan tour to the West Indies in coming July was part of the International Cricket Council’s FTP, however the recent ambiguous signals from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) provoked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to shift to a contingency plan.

“The WICB was planning to host India and Sri Lanka for a tri-nation series during the period, and wanted to reschedule Pakistan’s tour”, a PCB source revealed to this correspondent

“Now we have scheduled some of our old test series pending with Zimbabwe in this window”, the source added

The Pakistan Cricket team was due to play two Tests, three ODIs and two Twenty20 matches against Zimbabwe - in December last year - but the trip was postponed as the dates were clashing with the Indian trip.

On the other hand, a new development suggests that the WICB was still optimistic about hosting Pakistan. A statement on the WICB website says “WICB looks forward to the much anticipated visit of the Pakistan Cricket Team as indeed all cricket-loving fans of the Caribbean do”

“Once all arrangements are finalized they will be announced to the media and public in the usual manner and at the earliest opportunity”, added WICB

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Monday, 8 April 2013

PCB gears up for strict measures to shun 2010 like incident

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACH: The Pakistan Cricket team with embark on a trip to London to participate in the prestigious Champions Trophy with two worries. This time around, along with tackling with the tough oppositions, avoiding 2010 kind of incidents would also be in the back of everybody’s mind.

The trio banned, for spot-fixing in England, in 2010
Pakistan, in 2010, went to England to play a series against the home team but three of the players – Captain Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Amir – were caught and later sent to jail for their involvement in the notorious spot-fixing episode.
Almost after three years of that unpleasant event, the new management of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), under Chairman Zaka Ashraf, is upbeat and hopeful that, with adequate mechanism in place, the 2010 like incident would be averted.

“We are taking strict measures on our team's visit to the UK after the 2010 incident”, a PCB source revealed to this correspondent.

On a question the source further said that, in line with the ICC directives, the players as well as the officials were duly briefed on relevant precautions.

“The players are well aware of this problem, and to make it more secure, the security department as well as a vigilance team would monitor the players etc”, concludes the PCB source.

After the spot-fixing episode, the ICC imposed ban on all the players, but Muhammad Asif and Salman Butt later appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), on which the verdict is expected anytime soon.

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Latif sees Younis more effective in coaching role

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: After getting dropped from the Champions Trophy squad, the one-day international career of the former skipper, Younis Khan has probably reached at a decisive juncture. The veteran batsman might be in a dilemma, but his close friend and another former captain, Rashid Latif is categorical on this matter, and feels that Younis Khan should call it a day in the ODI cricket.

“Younis has been a wonderful player for Pakistan, but has crossed his prime. It’s high time for him [Younis] to retire from ODIs”, said Rashid Latif, while talking to this correspondent.
“I see an ideal coach in Younis and there is no harm in appointing him as Pakistan’s assistant coach, who can take over when Whatmore leaves”, adds Latif

Younis Khan, 35, has already acquired a level-two coaching course, conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore a few years back.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is also in search of a full-time batting coach for national team and it is reported that the appointment was likely to be made before the upcoming Champions Trophy, scheduled in England later this year.

“I think Younis should be appointed as assistant coach before the Champions Trophy. His stature and experience would come handy for the team.”, concludes Latif.

The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Younus Khan was dropped, not discarded: Iqbal Qasim

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Younus Khan’s poor run of form has not only cost him a place in the Pakistan squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy but also put his ODI career in jeopardy. Some former cricketers have advised him to hang his boots however the chief selector, Iqbal Qasim feels that this important call had to be made by the veteran batsman himself. “Putting an end to somebody’s career is not the mandate of the selection committee. Whoever performs is considered for selection and Younus Khan is no exception”, said Iqbal Qasim while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.

“In view of the current form, Younus was not picked, but it doesn’t mean that he was sidelined forever”, added the chief selector.

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s selection committee on Sunday announced the preliminary 30-men squad for the Champions Trophy scheduled in England later this year, where Pakistan will face the West Indies in their opening match on June 7.

Younus, 35, only managed 116 runs in the recently concluded series against South Africa, while this year, he scored 132 in seven ODI innings.

Since his debut in 2000, Younus Khan has played 253 ODIs as yet with 7014 runs to his credit. In Test Cricket he is amongst Pakistan’s top batsmen of all times with 6749 runs in 82 matches.

The former skipper gave up the Twenty20 format following Pakistan’s World Twenty20 triumph under his captaincy in 2009.

While terming the initial squad a balanced one, the chief selector said that the upcoming domestic One-day tournament would help them in choosing the final squad for the Champions trophy. “The domestic One-day tournament is a great opportunity for the players included in the initial list. It will make our [selection committee] job a little easier as well”, concludes Iqbal Qasim

The departmental One-Day tournament is scheduled to begin later this week, in which stars like Younus Khan and Shahid Afridi etc will represent their respective departments.

The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Monday, 1 April 2013

Junaid snubs county offers, concentrates on CT

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: The recent tour to South Africa, where the batting line of Pakistan didn’t perform up to the expectations, but pacemen Junaid Khan and lanky Muhammad Irfan caught everybody’s attention including the English county teams, however, one of the duo, Junaid Khan said his entire focus is on the upcoming Champions Trophy.
“I have played for Lancashire, and recently got good offers from Durham and a few other county teams, however my entire focus is on the Champions Trophy at the moment, hence I turned down the offers”, said Junaid Khan while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.

“PCB also advised me to skip county offers to avoid possible injuries before the mega event scheduled in England later this year”, added Junaid Khan

The left arm fast bowler hurt his leg during the recently concluded tour of South Africa where he performed impressively.

Junaid Khan, who recently led his regional side at the domestic super eight T20 tournament, described his captaincy experience as a great learning curve for him.

“I was given the responsibility in Younus Khan’s absence, and I enjoyed the experience. I am eyeing at the upcoming departmental One-day tournament now”, said Junaid

The 23 year old was also ecstatic to know that the legendry Wasim Akram would probably appear at the training camp before the champions trophy.

“I heard Wasim Akram will also visit the training camp and that would the best opportunity for a youngster like me to learn from the master”, concludes Junaid Khan

The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif