Islamabad United coach Dean Jones said that the Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) second edition has been a tumultuous one for his side after corruption allegations saw the provisional suspensions of batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif.
Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian described his and his team’s predicament amid the allegations.
“Only 12 hours after our great win [against Peshawar Zalmi], I was urgently called in to speak to our director of cricket, Wasim Akram, and our owner, Ali Naqvi,” he wrote.
“They told me two of our most senior players, Sharjeel and Latif, were provisionally suspended for alleged involvement in corruption. I felt like I was about to vomit. Wasim and I were almost in tears,” he added.
Jones also explained the horror on team captain Misbahul Haq’s face when he learned of these developments.
“Misbah’s immediate response after hearing the news is one that I will never forget,” wrote Jones. “He just froze. His face and body looked like the life had been drained out of it. He could barely breathe, let alone speak.”
Team has been through hell, says Islamabad United head coach
However, the 55-year-old added that after his side’s win against Peshawar Zalmi, it seemed apparent that something big was about to happen.
“I could sense something coming during the end of our first match. Brad Haddin had just made a brilliant knock of 73 and the World Anti-Doping Agency burst into the rooms and targeted him and two other boys for drug testing while the match was in progress,” he wrote. “We won the match, and then four guys in suits looking like police detectives came into our dressing room and escorted Sharjeel, Khalid and [Mohammad] Irfan to interview rooms. Their bags and phones were also confiscated.”
Nevertheless, Jones explained that the toughest moment came when he had to inform the rest of the team members about the suspended duo.
“The team was in utter disbelief. You could hear a pin drop as they sat with heads bowed in disappointment,” he wrote. “We wanted the team to speak, to just say how they were feeling, from the senior players to the junior boys. What’s more, we had a game to play the next day.”
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The Australian lauded the efforts of Wasim in trying to lift the team members’ spirits.
“Wasim spoke with so much passion. He talked about the tragic passing of his wife seven years ago and how he tried to cope with the pain,” he wrote. “It was a gut-wrenching, emotional talk for seven minutes to players he loves.”
Meanwhile, Jones added that he was impressed by both the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) on how they conducted the investigation and acted on it. “I applaud the PCB and the ICC on how they have handled this matter. The board acted swiftly and with authority. But as a coach and as a team, we have been delivered terrible news,” he wrote.
He added: “Since last week, I have also been attacked by former Pakistani players claiming that I had, in the past, been found guilty of association with a bookmaker, which was completely false.”
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Nevertheless, the coach lamented at what he called was a hypocritical approach towards betting in general.
“Every sport has to deal with this cancer of corruption,” wrote Jones. “While many coaches and staff try to keep our game clean, I find it hard to swallow that many cricket boards around the world have got commercial partnerships with online betting companies and it’s advertised all over the ground. The hypocrisy of it all! And we are the ones who have to pick up the pieces.”