Pakistan senators allege underperformance in Australia
Members of Pakistan's senate standing committee on sports believe, on the evidence of the inquiry committee report they have seen on Pakistan's tour to Australia, that "one or more" players in the national side are involved in deliberately under-performing for money, though they admit concrete evidence is lacking. The Pakistan Cricket Board said that the conclusions and the comments were made by the senators on their own.
The senate standing committee members - Tahir Mashadi, Abdul Ghaffar and Haroon Akhtar - met the PCB at Gaddafi Stadium on Monday afternoon and held a three-hour meeting in which they were given a presentation by board officials on the report. Last week the board acted on the report's recommendations and punished seven leading players.
"We were given a presentation today by the PCB, including video, audio evidence and the matter was discussed thoroughly with them," Akhtar told Cricinfo. "The PCB has done the investigation well and has been thorough with it. One or more people, we believe, is directly involved in some form of match-fixing and others indirectly.
"There is more than just one problem in the team. There is discipline, there are issues of grouping, there are instances of people deliberately under-performing to undermine captains and there are instances of people making lapses clearly where monetary interests are involved. If there is a lapse that nobody can explain or answer and there is no logical reason to it, then the assumption is that these are lapses where monetary interests are involved. There is no concrete evidence because you cannot track money changing hands."
Asked specifically whether the senators' conclusions were shared by the board, Akhtar said, "Members of the PCB were involved in the investigation. We saw video clips where the investigation was done by the PCB. There were several experts involved in the making of this report and were there in the meeting today and the conclusion that we reached was also reached by some of the experts involved."
Cricinfo understands, however, from officials involved in the committee and the subsequent report that match-fixing wasn't even within the terms of reference of their investigation. The committee never felt that there was any problem with match-fixing after their investigation, honing in instead on issues of discipline and friction within the side. It is also believed that after the meeting on Monday, board officials specifically and repeatedly requested senators not to go public with their beliefs and conclusions about match-fixing. The senators, however, held a press conference immediately after their meeting in which they made their conclusions public.
The board officially refused to comment on the conclusions. "We have done our work, what decisions were made are public, the decisions were taken for the good of cricket and our job is now finished," Wasim Bari, chief operating officer PCB, told Cricinfo.
Bari was head of the six-man committee that compiled the report. "We gave them a presentation on all of this, including a video presentation, of the inquiry we carried out," he said. "We always said that we'll give you a frank and honest presentation and they were very pleased with that. What we did we have showed them. The conclusions and comments they have made are their own and we will not comment on that."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo