Pakistan’s brilliant but tainted Test pace bowler, Mohammad Asif, has accused the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) of double standards while dealing with players involved in corruption.
“What I did seven years back was wrong and I regret it. I have served my full punishment and done all that was required of me under the ICC anti-corruption code.
“However, not once has anyone in the board or National Cricket Academy bothered to even call me and check about my fitness or form,” Asif said in an interview on Friday.
He has from time to time produced impressive spells post his five-year ban. Last year, in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy day and night final his spell with the new ball set up Wapda on the road to victory.
This season he has come up with some smart spells including six wickets in one session during a Quaid Trophy game against a strong KRL side.
“I have performed in two seasons and I am fit. I am ready to take any fitness test or undergo intensive training. But the board appears to have double standards,” Asif said.
“They can allow Mohammad Aamir back into the Pakistan team without any notable comeback performances and support him but for me or Salman Butt, they do not want to touch us and give us another chance in the national team even though we have done well,” he complained.
The pacer feels that the PCB needs to have a clear and uniform policy regarding tainted players.
“You can not treat players differently. I do not want to go into details but all three of us were equally responsible for what happened seven years back in England,” he said.
Butt, who was Pakistan’s captain, along with Asif and Aamir were all caught in a spot-fixing scandal on tape during the fourth test at Lords against England in 2010 and were banned from the game for five years.
Since than Butt has led Wapda to the Quaid Trophy title and also set it up to defend its title this season as well.
He is also frustrated that despite reforming himself and proving his fitness and form even in camps, he is not being considered for a comeback to the national side.
“Only God knows if I will ever get a chance to play for my country again. But I will keep doing what I am doing. Rest is up to the board and selectors as cricket is my bread and butter,” Butt said.
Insiders in the PCB and those close to the selectors say they know Asif is still a top bowler but given his background and his attitude even after the spot-fixing scandal they are reluctant to trust him again.
Asif has seen and done it all. He has outfoxed the world’s best batsmen including Kevin Pietersen, Virender Sehwag, Andrew Strauss, Jacques Kallis etc. He claimed 106 wickets in only 23 tests.
However, he was regularly involved in scandals including being caught at the Dubai airport with possession of illegal drugs, a notorious affair with a top actress and a failed dope test.
“You never know with Asif what might happen next. And now we have lot of pace options and he has got on with age,” a source close to the selectors said.
But Asif, who turns 35 this month, hit back by challenging the selectors to test his skills out with the current crop of pace bowlers.
“I still remain the best new ball bowler in Pakistan cricket. I have been praised for my bowling skills by the best in cricket. I know the art of using the new ball,” he said.