LAHORE: Former medical head of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Dr. Sohail Salim, who resigned after seven Covid-19 cases appeared in this year’s Pakistan Super League-6 which led to the postponement of the league midway, disclosed on Wednesday that he did not resign at his own but was asked for it.
“On the very next day [following the PSL postponement] PCB chief executive Wasim Khan came to meet me. I thought we would discuss the future line of action on how to improve the situation [amid Covid-19], but Wasim told me ‘sorry we are parting ways’, to which I said okay,” Sohail said while talking exclusively to Dawn.
As head of PCB’s medical team, Dr Sohail prepared the bio-secure bubble for PSL-6 as coronavirus situation demanded unprecedented measures. However, after 14 matches seven Covid-19 cases were reported at the league during the Karachi leg, forcing the PCB to postpone it for an indefinite time on March 4. Later, the Board announced a new schedule to hold the remaining 20 matches from June 1 to 17 in Karachi. Lahore, the other venue picked in the original schedule, was dropped.
“In my resignation, I also wrote that as per the PCB desire I am resigning,” Sohail further said.
On whether he inquired about his fault, Dr. Sohail said, “No. Why I should I? It seems Wasim met me with a decided mind.”
When asked if he as head of the medical team had proposed the PCB to hire an expert company to strictly implement Covid-19 SOPs, which were breached freely during the PSL-6, Dr Sohail revealed it was discussed most probably a couple of months ago before the PSL was held. “However, I don’t know what happened [which led to the idea getting dropped].”
Asked if he appeared before the two-member inquiry panel of the PCB, which investigated the PSL-6 suspension saga but its report was not made public, Dr Sohail responded with a hiccup.
“Which report? Yes, I appeared before the inquiry panel for 40 minutes and most probably I was the last or second last one who was called,” he said.
Dr Sohail, when asked whether he was made a scapegoat by the PCB, said he did his job sincerely.
“I don’t know but I did my work at the PCB with sincerity and during the last one year [due to Covid-19] the workload was heavy.”
He added, “It should have been better had the PCB waited for the report of the inquiry panel, while asking me to resign just one day after the postponement as it did not sound well.
“And I don’t think that the PCB chairman or chief executive were not happy with my work. If they were unhappy, they did not even point out any mistake on my part,” he stated.
Dr Sohail said he preferred to resign also because he could not fight against the system, adding if someone was not happy with him why he should force himself to continue.
“I don’t want to ridicule anyone or the system. They [PCB] did what they liked and considered suitable, and if I have no place in the system then it is better to quit,” he said.
Dr Sohail, who served the PCB for 22 long years, said it was good working experience and added he learnt and gained a lot during this long association.
“The future of many cricketers like fast bowlers Nasim Shah, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Amir and many others was saved from fitness problems and I left the PCB with a good legacy,” he said.
Responding to a query on whether the PCB was over confident after successfully holding Covid-free home series against Zimbabwe and South Africa as it dropped the proposal of hiring an expert company for this purpose, Dr Sohail lauded both the touring teams for strictly observing the SOPs in letter and spirit during their respective series in Pakistan.
“I salute both the teams and their management for being so disciplined in every field as we were enjoying when we were working for a nation-to-nation project,” he said.
Underlining that no one was perfect, Dr Sohail said the rapidly deteriorating Covid-19 situation in India had also led to the suspension of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) which had hired services of the best experts to control Covid-19.
“Exactly the same is happening with the IPL which like PSL-6 was postponed mid-way. And these are not the only competitions which have suffered as other sports across the world have also taken the hit due to Covid-19,” he remarked.
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2021