Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has decided to form a three-member tribunal under a retired judge to investigate the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017 spot-fixing scandal if national team batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif retract their statements.
The two cricketers have earlier admitted before PCB’s Anti-Corruption head Colonel (retd) Azam in Dubai that they made a mistake and violated PCB’s anti-corruption code. However, now they have changed their statement. Both cricketers are left with seven days to submit their formal reply over the allegations. “We will give maximum punishment if players are found involved in the fixing to make it an example once and for all,” said PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan.
PCB chairman, while talking to Pakistan Today here in the Parliament House Friday, said Nasir Jamshed had allegedly managed a meeting of three Pakistani cricketers, including Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif and Irfan, with a bookie named Yousuf in Dubai. PCB’s anti-corruption unit was already aware of the fact that bookies had stormed Dubai for gambling. We had briefing sessions with the players and advised them to obey the code. “Players were advised to get approval from PCB before meeting with anyone. But they have allegedly defied the code,” said the PCB chairman.
Shaharyar said the PCB was aware of the fact that bookmakers were targeting players in the PSL and that was the reason players were briefed before the inaugural match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi on Feb 9 in Dubai. Both accused players were part of the defending champions Islamabad United. Sharjeel played in the first match, which was under the scrutiny of the PCB’s anti-corruption unit, while Latif was rested.
“Before we could take an action,” Shaharyar Khan said, “Jamshed and the bookie Yousuf disappeared from the scene.” Both successfully escaped from Dubai and reached London as revelations of his contacts/meetings were unearthed and PCB’s anti-corruption unit started the probe by interviewing the said players, he said, adding Irfan proved innocent in initial inquiry, while Sharjeel and Khalid Latif admitted the mistake of developing links with the bookie.
Jamshed, currently living in London, has been facing investigation by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) in connection with bribery offences as part of an ongoing investigation into spot-fixing. Jamshed and Yousuf were arrested by NCA on Monday 13 February and have been released on bail and asked to report to the agency in April.
PCB chairman further said that the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the PCB are investigating together in the case of alleged match-fixing during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017, being held in Dubai these days.
Sources in the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination said that Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Pirzada and PCB chairman held a meeting. During the meeting, Pirzada suggested the PCB chairman keep transparency in the investigation into PSL 2017 match-fixing scandal. The minister has also suggested PCB chairman consider the stance of said players allegedly involve in the spot-fixing during PSL 2017 at Dubai and develop a ‘soft corner’ for the players as Indian board did the same in the past whenever its players were found involved in corruption or fixing, sources added.
Experts believe that PCB could find itself in an embarrassing situation if it is unable to prove the spot-fixing allegations against Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif. They said it’s not the first time Pakistan cricketers have been embroiled in corruption controversies. In 1999 Salim Malik and Ataur Rehman were banned for life following a match-fixing investigation. In 2010 three players—Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif—were suspended for five years.
It is pertinent to mention here that several charges have been levelled against Sharjeel and Khalid Latif over having contacts with bookmakers and trying to spot-fix matches. But, they have denied any involvement in spot-fixing during the PSL in their initial response to the show cause notice issued to them by the PCB. However, if they accept charges, a disciplinary commission will be formed to decide on their future.