Wapda official puts media gag on tainted pairArchive
KARACHI: Despite being declared free men after serving their bans in the spot-fixing saga, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and seamer Mohammad Asif were prevented on Monday by a top Wapda team official from interacting with the media at the start of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy match here at the National Stadium.
As expected, both were overlooked for selection for the Pool ‘A’ fixture against Karachi Whites as per the policy laid down by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). But the media personnel gathered at the stadium while anticipating the opportunity of talking to the tainted pair.
However, Salman and Asif refused to entertain the media’s request on clear instructions of senior Wapda team official Hasan Masood, who expressed his regrets when the reporters approached him.
“I think you should all understand the gravity of this situation. They [Salman and Asif] are currently trying to make a return to first-class cricket. But this isn’t the proper moment for them to speaking to you guys because we feel that they would be better off shunning the media altogether,” Hasan, who is younger brother of former Pakistan fast bowler Asif Masood, explained.
When asked that the PCB media department, headed by Amjad Hussain Bhatti, has already been duly informed of media’s desire and granted permission to contact Salman and Asif, Hasan in a low voice insisted that unless one of the topmost PCB officials such as chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed gives the ‘go-ahead’ to Wapda team management, there is no point in allowing such interviews.
“It would be advisable that you first speak to Subhan and if he agrees, I will let you speak to Salman and Asif,” Hasan stressed.
“At this point in time, there is already a lot of ambiguity whether they can straightaway return to first-class cricket. There is no indication thus far from the authorities as to when these two will actually be allowed to play for Wapda.
“This is why we have decided to let them stay with the squad since the cricket board may let them play at some stage during the coming weeks. One could never guess when, but we are waiting for better news which could arrive any time,” he added.
Interestingly, Salman and Asif engaged themselves in light practice with their team-mates before the match started and then during the lunch and tea intervals.
The last time Salman and Asif played at the first-class level was during the infamous final Test of the four-match series against England at Lord’s in August 2010.
Ironically, their former team-mate and co-conspirator in the spot-fixing scandal, Mohammad Amir made a return to topflight cricket after more than five years at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Monday. Playing for Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), paceman Amir bowled 15 wicket-less overs against Lahore Blues.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2015
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