KARACHI: In a shocking revelation following the spot-fixing allegations, the Pakistan team management has conceded to The Express Tribune that it had no problems with the players interacting with the alleged bookmaker Mazhar Majeed who was arrested and later released on bail.
The confession comes just days after reports that Pakistan’s One-Day International and Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi had barred his teammates from having any links with Mazhar who, along with his brother Azhar, acted as the players’ agent for club contracts and endorsements in England.
“We were fully aware that some of the players had Mazhar and Azhar as their agents and we didn’t have a problem with that,” a member of the team management told The Express Tribune from Taunton where the team arrived yesterday. “As long as they weren’t brought to the players’ rooms, we didn’t have a problem since the duo acted as their agents.”
Afridi, who announced his Test retirement after defeat in the tour’s first Test against Australia, was sceptical of the duo, an act not taken well by Mazhar who, in the video recorded by The News of the World, confirmed this stance and that the players opposed Afridi as captain for precisely this reason.
“They all want [Salman] Butt to be captain,” Mazhar had allegedly confessed before adding the players wanted Afridi to fail
While Mazhar has been released on bail by Scotland Yard, the Pakistan team’s associate manager Shafqat Rana has confirmed that no players will be suspended by the management while the police investigations were ongoing. He added that despite the magnitude of the allegations, the players remained confident and fully focussed on the job at hand.
“We have no reason to suspend anyone at the moment,” Rana told The Express Tribune. “The chairman is in London and he’s arriving here soon and we’ll wait for the police to complete their investigations.
“The players know they have a job at hand and a tour to carry on with. Despite being sad and hurt due to the allegations, they’re acting their usual selves, smiling as always and remain confident that they can do a good job on the remainder of the tour.”
Rana’s cheerfulness was in stark comparison to Pakistan’s body language on the fourth morning at Lord’s. While the batsmen were booed on the field and the post-match ceremony held indoors to avoid crowd reaction, Salman remain subdued in the post-match press conference, with a distraught look to his face, and let team manager Yawar Saeed reply to most questions.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2010.