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ACSU to vet Pakistan World Cup probables

Osman Samiuddin

November 14, 2010

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A Pakistan fan makes clear his feelings about Salman Butt, England v Pakistan, 1st T20I, Cardiff, September 5, 2010
The ACSU will "give their feed back (not in writing) to PCB on whether there were some doubts about player(s)" picked by the PCB © PA Photos
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In an unprecedented move, the PCB will send a list of potential World Cup probables to the ICC's Anti-corruption & Security Unit (ACSU) for clearance before selecting their final squad for the showpiece tournament next year. The development is part of continuing efforts by the Pakistan board to restore confidence in a battered reputation following a year of unrelenting corruption allegations linked to the national side.

At a PCB governing board meeting on November 1, chairman Ijaz Butt informed members that the ACSU would be contacted over the squad selection. The minutes of that meeting, first obtained by Geo, a leading local channel, and available with ESPNcricinfo, state clearly that "30 names [are] to be given by PCB for clearance by the ACSU, from which the PCB will select the final squad for the World Cup." The minutes go on to reveal that Butt will give the ACSU the 30 (or more) names and the ACSU will "give their feed back (not in writing) to PCB on whether there were some doubts about player(s)."

There has been growing speculation in Pakistan over the past week that the exclusion of certain players from the current squad and potentially from the World Cup is linked to an ICC directive to ensure the integrity of the team, and thus the game. The ICC has issued repeated denials that it has any say over what is essentially an internal selection matter. "It's clearly not the job of the ICC to select any teams and we will not do so," the ICC's chief executive Haroon Lorgat told ESPNcricinfo. "It remains the responsibility of each member board, in this case the PCB, to pick its 30-man provisional squad or 15-player final squad for the World Cup 2011. However, the ICC, being a members' organisation, is always willing to provide feedback or support to any member that seeks its assistance on any issues."

The PCB issued a press release on Saturday insisting that it was the board's "sole prerogative to select the squad" for the World Cup and that the ICC would not be signing off on it. But they did acknowledge that all players would be reviewed "through its Integrity committee and may seek the guidance of the ACSU on any player it wishes to select. The decision as to which players will be included in the 30-man provisional squad will remain with PCB."

The initiative, it is believed, is a result of ongoing discussions between the ICC's Pakistan Task Team (PTT) and the PCB; the PTT was reconstituted in October to help Pakistan deal with a raft of corruption issues, as well as its core aim of helping the PCB deal with the absence of international cricket in the country. This was one of the recommendations on the table and ESPNcricinfo understands it was the PCB - rather than the ICC or the PTT - which took it up on its own accord.

 
 
The move will be seen as a further, unofficial confidence building measure in the PCB's battle against corruption, added to measures such as the tightening of the players' code of conduct, or the eventual implementation of an anti-corruption code to mirror the ICC's
 

Effectively the board is asking the ACSU to share any information and concerns they may have over any player. The move has two purposes in mind. One, it will be seen as a further, unofficial confidence building measure in the PCB's battle against corruption, added to measures such as the tightening of the players' code of conduct, or the eventual implementation of an anti-corruption code to mirror the ICC's. But it is also an insurance against potential troubles in the future. If there are, for example, any doubts about Pakistan games at the World Cup, the board can at least correctly claim that all players involved had been cleared by the ACSU.

Pakistan's selectors are expected to meet on Monday to put together a list of 40 probables which will then be sent to the ACSU later in the month. The final 30 probables have to be submitted by November 30.

Three of Pakistan's players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - have been provisionally suspended by the ICC over allegations of spot-fixing during the fourth Test against England at Lord's earlier this year. The full hearing into their case will take place in Doha, Qatar in January, ruling them out of the initial probables selection. Questions have also been raised, however, over the continued exclusion of two more players - Danish Kaneria and Kamran Akmal - from the current squad.

Kaneria was not given clearance by the PCB to travel to the UAE for the Test series against South Africa. No reason has been made public by the PCB, though his entanglement in a separate spot-fixing case for Essex earlier this year may have something to do with it, even if he was eventually cleared by Essex police. Akmal was sent a notice by the ACSU earlier this year as well, but has not been selected for the current series on fitness grounds according to the PCB.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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