Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
The news of Islamabad United duo Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif being provisionally suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has swept through the cricket community like wildfire. But, just how much of a toll has is taken on the Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise?
Writing in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald, Islamabad United head coach Dean Jones admitted that it has not been easy, especially as the news rolled in after their victory over Peshawar Zalmi on the first day of the tournament.
“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,” Jones 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.
Jones added that captain Misbah-ul-Haq was stunned upon hearing what had happened.
“Misbah’s immediate response after hearing the news is one that I will never forget,” he wrote. “He just froze. His face and body looked like the life had been drained out of it. He could barely breathe, let alone speak.”
The former Australian cricketer revealed that he had a bad feeling after four men in suits came into the dressing room.
To make matters worse, the rest of the team were shocked after learning what had transpired.
“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.
“The team was in utter disbelief. You could hear a pin drop as they sat with heads bowed in disappointment. 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.”
Jones, however, heaped praise on Akram for trying to lift the team’s spirit.
“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,” the 55-year-old wrote. “It was a gut-wrenching, emotional talk for seven minutes to players he loves.”
He also lauded the PCB and International Cricket Council (ICC) for they way in which they have conducted their investigation.
“I applaud the PCB and the ICC on how they have handled this matter,” he wrote. “The board acted swiftly and with authority. But as a coach and as a team, we have been delivered terrible news.
“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.”
However, Jones admitted that he was not a fan of the fact that cricket boards around the world have partnerships with betting companies.
“Every sport has to deal with this cancer of corruption,” he added. “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.”