The Pakistan Cricket Board has preferred to remain non-committal on the allegation that the 2011 World Cup semifinal between India and Pakistan was fixed, but former PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt kicked off a debate after he asserted the board to investigate the claims.
Butt’s assertion that the present PCB set-up should either hold an inquiry itself or ask the ICC to investigate the semifinal clash at Mohali has left many in the cricket community bemused.
The question being asked is why didn’t he (Butt) hold the inquiry when he was in power and when the finger was first pointed at the outcome of the semifinal.
If that wasn’t enough, Butt hit the headlines when he walked out of a television studio on being asked a question about Shahid Afridi during the discussion on English journalist Ed Hawkins’ book, which claims the semifinal was fixed.
In a clear indication of just how sensitive he remains on the issue of Shahid Afridi, Butt left the studio on being asked what forced him to strike a peace deal with the cricketer last year.
Clearly not happy with the queries, Butt said he no longer wanted to be part of the “useless discussion” and got up and left the studio.
Known for his eccentric ways and hardline approach towards the media during his four-year tenure as the chairman, Butt clearly has not changed.
It was his eccentric and strong approach towards players that led to the sacking of Afridi last year in May.
Afridi, however, moved the court against his sacking and it was only after the intervention of some politicians from the tribal areas that Butt met the all-rounder and struck a deal with him.
While Afridi was given permission to play in England, he was fined to the tune of 4.5 million rupees and was also asked to withdraw his case.
Afridi who had retired in protest was, though, never asked to take back his retirement and was ignored by the national selectors until Butt was replaced by Zaka Ashraf at the helm.
“To Butt Afridi remains a sensitive issue because he feels the player damaged the team and didn’t have respect for authority. That explains his walkout from the studio where he had gone to speak on the World Cup semifinal issue,” a close aide of Butt said.
Surprisingly, the PCB avoided making any official comments on the allegations raised by Hawkins, but insiders say Zaka is clearly not happy with Butt’s advice to hold an inquiry.
“Zaka is surprised at Butt’s statement as he pointed out that it was during his (Butt’s) tenure that the allegations first surfaced. And secondly what will Pakistan gain by asking for an inquiry when neither the ICC nor the Indian board are interested in Hawkins’ latest allegations,” a source said.