PCB chief optimistic about Hafeez and Azhar’s return to fitness camp

By AFP

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Shaharyar Khan said he was optimistic Mohammed Hafeez and Azhar Ali would end their boycott of the fitness camp after meeting with the two players on Friday.

Former Twenty20 captain Hafeez and current one-day skipper Ali refused to train with Amir on Thursday, threatening renewed controversy for a Pakistan side looking to reintegrate Amir, who was jailed in 2011 and hit with a five-year ban for spot-fixing.

“I had a very cordial meeting with the two players for 30 minutes and I told them that they were going against the policy of the PCB,” Khan told AFP.

The PCB chairman warned the duo refusing to train alongside tainted paceman Mohammad Amir during an ongoing fitness camp for the national side that they faced fines and suspensions.

The PCB chief said Amir also apologised to his fellow players on Friday, adding that the bowler “will remain under the microscope whenever he plays, so I am satisfied with the meeting and hope the matter will be resolved”.

Hafeez had told head coach Waqar Younis on Thursday he would not attend any part of the camp in which Amir was participating, sources close to the matter said, while Azhar Ali told reporters in Lahore: “Hafeez and I can’t accept Amir’s presence in the camp,“.

“Both the players told us that they were not against PCB’s policy after I told them that Amir has completed his ban and a rehabilitation programme. The two players would confirm by Saturday morning whether they would attend the camp,” Khan said.

Amir, then Test captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were charged with accepting money in exchange for arranging deliberate no-balls during a Test match at Lord’s in England in 2010.

The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a British court in 2011. Amir, Butt and Asif were also banned from cricket for five years.

But in September this year the International Cricket Council lifted sanctions against the three players. Amir’s ban was relaxed in January this year and he was allowed to play domestic matches.

At the time of the ban, Amir was tipped as one of the most talented fast bowlers in the world.

Since his return, he has taken 22 wickets in four non first-class games, while his tally of wickets in the qualifying rounds of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy stood at 34.

The Pakistan players are training ahead of the national side’s upcoming tour of New Zealand, where they will play three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches.

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