Azhar and Hafeez return to training camps despite Amir's presence
Pakistan’s Captain Azhar Ali and senior all-rounder Mohammed Hafeez decided to return to the ongoing training camp of the national squad in Lahore after they held meetings with PCB Chairman. They had missed the first two days of the training session due to the presence of Mohammed Amir.
After serving his punishment ban of 5 years in jail for being caught in match-fixing terms back in 2010, Mohammed Amir is all set to return to the national squad of Pakistan. Several meetings between PCB and him were held and after assurance coming from his side regarding no further inclusions in fixing scandals, he had been included in the 26-man squad for the training camps. These camps are only focused on players who show potential to represent Pakistan in their upcoming matches including 2016 World T20 in India.
After serving his punishment in a six-month jail period, Amir returned to the domestic circuit and returned impressive figures. He even played in the Bangladeshi Premier League and gave a stellar performance for his franchise. Currently, he has been listed in Karachi Kings, in the upcoming Pakistan Super League.
On Thursday, both Azhar and Hafeez were scheduled to join the camp after completing their domestic matches, but they did not do so. Azhar went on to state that he would not attend the camp “as long as Amir is there.”
PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan had to step in to maintain integrity among the team players. He held meetings with both the players and asked them to join the camp. He further asked them to treat Amir like a family and help him integrate to the current Pakistan side.
“They both met and decided to join the training camp,” Khan said, after a final meeting with the players. “I do respect their concerns but some of them, I told them, are not acceptable. So they understood and confirmed that they are on the same page with us and now we are looking forward to the success of the team.”
“We have also conveyed that for a while we have only selected Amir in the training session and he has not been selected in the national team so far,” Khan said. “But if so [Amir is selected] then they both have to stand with him and should not see him with suspicion or behave badly with him. It is now their responsibility – Azhar as captain and him [Hafeez] as a senior player – to take him like a family. We, at the same time, will ensure that Amir stays on course and does not commit any mistake in future.”
Senior player Hafeez came out happy after discussions with the top official. “My stance has been simple all the way, that anyone who damages the pride and integrity of the country should not be given a chance again,” he told the media, after agreeing to return to the camp. “It was my principle stance and will remain the same throughout my life.
“I am happy that the PCB chairman heard my reservations and agreed to safeguard our concerns for the sake of Pakistan cricket. Playing cricket is my passion and I don’t need to convince people about my talent. I know I am an average player, but I won an honour to represent Pakistan and I vow to contribute to the success of Pakistan. I will, in my humble capacity, continue to support every player.” ‘
Bangladesh Premier League’s Chittagong Vikings franchise reportedly approached Hafeez with an offer, but the all-rounder declined, simply for the reason that Amir was in the squad. He even stated that he would not play “with any player who has tarnished and brought a bad name to the country”.
On Saturday, Hafeez clearly pointed out that his stance was not directed at a particular individual. “I also want to clarify that my stance wasn’t against any one individual, but it was for all who have committed [corruption],” Hafeez said. “I have forgiven all who have damaged the integrity of the Pakistan cricket through corruption but I, in principle, am against corruption and will keep holding this stance forever. I hope people will understand and support me.”
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