LAHORE: Pakistan Test captain Misbahul Haq on Sunday said that players involved in spot-fixing scandals should not be allowed to return to the field again. Speaking to the media about the recent Pakistan Super League (PSL) spot-fixing scandal, Misbah said players involved should be handed a life-time ban so that such incidents do not repeat themselves. Last week, the Pakistan Cricket Board issued a charge-sheet against opener Shahzaib Hasan and suspended him over allegations of spot-fixing during the PSL. The unit had previously issued notices of charge to four cricketers - batsmen Nasir Jamshed, Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif and paceman Mohammad Irfan - in the spot-fixing inquiry.
The case, which is being investigated by a judicial commission, has revived memories of a 2010 scandal that involved the national team and deprived it of three top players. Misbah said the scandal has been “very disappointing” and rendered pointless the team’s efforts to better its image over seven years since the 2010 spot-fixing scandal. In 2010, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt had agreed to bowl no-balls in return for payment as part of a betting scam in the Lord’s Test against England. The players were suspended provisionally by the International Cricket Council and served jail time. The bans on the three players ended in 2015 and Amir returned to international cricket in 2016. Misbah was appointed captain in the aftermath of that tainted series in England, and set about rebuilding the team with an ethos that emphasised discipline and integrity. His team steadily climbed world rankings and rose briefly to number one last year. Pakistan’s rehabilitation on the international circuit had appeared to be complete last year when Misbah led the team on their first tour of England since the 2010 scandal, in a series praised for its sportsmanship. The 42-year-old was subsequently awarded the International Cricket Council’s Spirit of Cricket award - testament to the high regard in which world cricket holds him.
“We had almost changed the team’s image with the tour in England and the performance of the team on and off the field. We revived the team but now it feels like out efforts have been wasted,” the captain said. “We have to rebuild our image,” Misbah added. The widening scandal has taken some of the sheen off the recently-completed PSL, which was hailed as a step towards restoring international cricket after the final in Lahore passed without incident.
Earlier this month Misbah shelved plans to retire and will now lead his team in next month’s three-match Test series in the West Indies starting on April 22. Pakistan are desperate for a turnaround after suffering whitewashes in their last two series. “It will be a tough series and we will not take West Indies lightly because they gave us a tough time in all three Tests last year,” said Misbah of Pakistan’s 2-1 win in the United Arab Emirates. “The conditions there will be tough and the ball will spin so you can’t relax,” he added. Pakistan will play four Twenty20 and three one-day internationals against West Indies before the Tests.