PCB holds talks with Hafeez, Azhar over Amir issue

Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali, two prominent members of the Pakistan team, were opposed to participating in a training camp for the national team which included Mohammad Amir. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shahryar Khan held talks with the two players over their concerns but the impasse remains.

Azhar Ali (in picture) and Mohammad Hafeez reported for the national camp, performed their individual training, and went home.   -  AP

Shahryar Khan: '(Azhar Ali and Mohammad Hafeez) are centrally contracted players and we can then see if we should take disciplinary action against them. But we would like this situation to be resolved amicably long term.'   -  AP (File Photo)

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan has tried to defuse the crisis by talking to senior players Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali over their refusal to attend the national camp in Lahore with tainted left arm pacer Mohammad Amir. “I have already had discussions with some players on Amir’s issues and we have tried to address concerns. I will again talk to Hafeez and Azhar and sort out this matter,” Khan said late night.

Pakistan’s national one-day captain Azhar Ali told Geo News channel that they don’t want to take part in a camp which includes Amir. “But we are willing to discuss the matter with only the PCB Chairman,” he said. Hafeez also made his feelings clear he didn’t want to return to the camp till the tainted bowler was there.

According to details, Hafeez and Azhar reported for the camp in the morning session, did their individual training and then left the camp.“They informed head coach Waqar Younis about their concerns about training with Amir and went home,” one source said. Hafeez and Azhar, with some other players, reported for the camp on Thursday morning since they were busy playing the Quaid-e-Azam trophy in Karachi this week. The camp has been set up for the tour to New Zealand in January.

Shaharyar to a question said that if the players didn’t understand the PCB’s viewpoint than the authorities would look at other options. “They are centrally contracted players and we can than see if we should take disciplinary action against them. But we would like this situation to be resolved amicably long term,” Khan said.

A well-informed source in the board said the two players had apparently met with the PCB chief late night but a deadlock persisted before the meeting ended inconclusively. The strong stance from Hafeez and Azhar comes just one day after the PCB issued a long press release pleading with former players, critics and commentators who are against allowing Amir back into the national team that Islam also calls for forgiveness.

PCB backs Amir

The PCB in the press release showed its complete backing for Amir whose bid to make a comeback to the national side was given a major boost last week after he was invited for the national conditioning camp and also picked up in the Pakistan Super League players draft. Pakistan’s Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq also told BBC Urdu service that the Amir issue was not an easy one for himself, the players or the cricket board.

“It is not a simple issue. It is a difficult issue for everyone. We don’t know what will be the reaction of the people when our team plays how people will take it. No one knows or realizes what will happen if Amir plays,” he said.

Misbah said players and captains have concerns. “I think there will be people in PCB who have concerns as well. Players have forgiven the three players but the reaction is still a big question and it will be very difficult for any captain as there will be questions from media, how crowds will react abroad particularly in England,” he said.

Misbah also claimed the PCB had not sat down with the players and discussed the issue. “But from what I am hearing this will happen in the camp and I am sure the PCB will take players into confidence.”

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