Pakistan cricket fraternity on Wednesday reacted with surprise, anger and content to severe punishment handed out by the Board to half-a-dozen current players on disciplinary counts.
While former players like Inzamam-ul-Haq and Rashid Latif felt the Board’s move would further hit the image of Pakistan cricket, legends like Zaheer Abbas and Abdul Qadir were all support for the punishment.
The Board banned handed out indefinite bans to Mohammed Yousuf and Younus Khan and gave one-year bans to Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in the wake of their flop show Down Under.
The Akmal brothers — Kamran and Umar — and Shahid Afridi were put under observation and imposed heavy fines.
“How can you treat senior players Yousuf and Younus like this? How can you ban them for life? If they were doing something wrong the board should have spoken and warned them first. You don’t take such harsh decision at once,” a fuming Inzamam asked.
Inzamam was baffled why the team management kept their silence during the tour and came out with severe punishments now.,
“Why were Kamran and Umar not sent back from Australia? Why was Afridi not penalised in Australia by the team management? Why come out with such harsh decisions in one go which could badly damage the image of Pakistan cricket?.”
Inzamam was also critical of the composition of the inquiry committee saying it was not an independent and unbiased body.
“How can you have Yawar Saeed or Zakir Khan on the committee? Yawar was recently manager of the team,” he asked.
Rashid Latif questioned the timing of the action and felt the Board may have done it to save its own skin.
He also suggested players to knock the judicial doors, challenging the punishment, and was confident that aggrieved players would come out victorious.
“Younis, I think, has been treated unfairly for long now, what was his fault and yet he is banned. This is not the way to improve things in Pakistan cricket.
“If things were so wrong in Australia, then what was the team management doing. I am getting a feeling that the board has taken these decisions to save themselves after the recent poor performances and controversies,” he said.
However, former captain Zaheer Abbas, Abdul Qadir and Sarfraz Nawaz, had a different view on the whole issue.
“Obviously it is very disappointing and sad that senior players like Yousuf and Younis have been banned but the fact is this action of the board will help in improving the Pakistan cricket team’s culture and performances,” Abbas told PTI.
“The players must realise whatever they are today are because of their country and the team. For too long these players’ power culture has been allowed to fester and it is right time to remove them,” he added.
Qadir, who resigned as chief selector last year due to differences with the board, said the decisions taken by the board were courageous and hoped they do not change their mind.
“In Pakistan, decisions don’t tend to stick for long specially actions against players. So I just hope that the board, this time, is committed to ensure the players serve their punishments,” Qadir said.
He said the punishments were necessary for senior players to set an example for the youngsters in the side.
The new chief selector Mohsin Khan and national coach Waqar Younis were taken aback by the PCB decision to implement all recommendations of the inquiry committee.
“This announcement has come as a shock and surprise to me,” Waqar told PTI from Australia, adding “he would wait for details before giving any more reaction”.
Mohsin was of the view that bans on Yousuf and Younis would hurt the team.
“It is not easy to find replacements for such experienced performers at the international level. But the board has taken a decision and we have to follow it and try to do our best, obviously the team will be weakened and take time to gain momentum,” Khan, a former Test opener, said.
All-rounder Rana Naved-ul-Hasan said he had not got any official intimation from the Board on the punishment handed out to him.
“Let me first get details, the board has done its job and now I will do what is necessary and right. But one thing is clear I have always given my best for Pakistan cricket,” Rana said.
Meanwhile, Shoaib Malik’s brother Imran said they would wait and watch before deciding to take legal help.
“We will first of all find out from the Board on what grounds have they banned Shoaib. We will wait for the aftershocks of these decisions to subside before deciding on legal course of action,” Imran said.
“At a time when all other teams are preparing for the T20 World Cup, we are wasting our energies in these things,” he added.