LAHORE: Veteran opener Mohammad Hafeez insists time is ripe for some ruthless decisions by the game’s authorities to rid Pakistan cricket of the evil of fixing and other corrupt practices.
“We in the past witnessed very bad times due to such [corrupt] practices; and now again [unfortunately] we are going through the same phase. [Therefore] I think time has come for us to take some tough decisions aimed at eradicating this menace of fixing once and for all,” Hafeez said while speaking as guest of the Sports Journalists Association of Lahore (SJAL) here on Saturday.
Last year, Hafeez along with with former ODI captain Azhar Ali gave strong indications to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that they would not like to play in the national team if spot-fixing tainted pace bowler Mohammad Amir was allowed to again represent the country.
However, both the players later withdrew from their stance and now they are playing international cricket alongside Amir, who was convicted and banned along with then Test skipper Salman Butt and paceman Mohammad Asif in the 2010 spot-fixing case.
Corruption in Pakistan cricket surfaced again at the recently-held Pakistan Super League (PSL) where four players till now have been suspended by the PCB for alleged spot-fixing in the league.
Responding to a query concerning present national ODI team, Hafeez said he being part of the current squad, felt sorry over the outfit’s poor show in recent years — a scenario that has jeopardised direct participation of eighth-ranked Pakistan in the 2019 World Cup.
“First, I would like to blame myself for Pakistan’s poor state of affairs [in ODI format] and then other stakeholders like all other team members, coaching staff. The game’s governing body should also hold themselves responsible,” he said.
To a question if he was planning to retire from any format of the game in international contests, the 36-year-old Hafeez said fitness would be the key for him to take a decision.
“I will continue to play [international] cricket until I am fit; the day I realise I am not fit enough I will vacate my place for youngsters,” the right-handed batsman announced.
Hafeez lauded Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq for his excellent services to Pakistan cricket.
“Alas, even Misbah, despite serving Pakistan cricket [with honesty and dedication] has faced heaps of criticism. Any other person in his place would have fallen apart amid such [harsh] criticism. No doubt, Misbah at a crunch stage gave stability to Pakistan cricket and therefore, he deserves all praise,” Hafeez said.
He also praised former late Bob Woolmer’s services for Pakistan cricket.
Exactly 10 years ago, on March 18, Woolmer, then Pakistan head coach, died during the 2007 World Cup in mysterious circumstances, after his team crashed out of the showpiece in the first round after losing to lowly Ireland at Jamaica.
“Though I enjoyed little time with Bob Woolmer, his contribution for the Pakistan team proved extremely significant as he corrected the techniques of several cricketers during his stint as our coach,” recalled Hafeez.
He said extensive work had been done on improving fitness and playing techniques of the players during the recently-concluded training camp in Lahore for the West Indies tour.
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2017