Selector Mohammad Ilyas served showcause notices
The former Test opener and current selector Mohammad Ilyas has been served two showcause notices by the PCB; the first for his part in the board's ongoing dispute with former captain Shahid Afridi, and the second for his appearance on a TV show on Sunday night that also included Salman Butt.
Ilyas was the target of specific and personal criticism from Afridi in the days after he announced his conditional retirement from the game and launched a blitz against the board that has now taken on a legal hue. Late last week, an incensed Ilyas felt compelled to respond with his own attacks against Afridi and was duly issued with the notice on Friday, in which the board said he had violated the code of conduct applicable to officials.
Afridi and Ilyas have history: Ilyas has often opposed the selection of Afridi in the side but it has ballooned in recent months. Afridi accused Ilyas of promoting his son-in-law Imran Farhat, while Ilyas responded by saying Afridi had pushed unfairly and persistently for Ahmed Shahzad, Fawad Alam and Shahzaib Hasan.
Fuelling the dispute are Afridi's comments about a "Punjab-Lahore lobby" working against him since he became captain - Ilyas is from Lahore and Afridi, a Pathan from Karachi - remarks that have seriously irked the board and a number of prominent ex-cricketers in Lahore.
At a press conference in Karachi, Afridi clarified his remarks, saying that he was talking about an individual and not a region or people. "I did say it, but I only said it so that the media would understand who I am talking about," he said. "After that I stopped saying it and I took Ilyas's name. the work that he is using the kind of language that he is using everyone can see. I will not talk of provinces, I play for Pakistan."
Ilyas is expected to respond today to the first notice, but comments he made on Sunday night on a show on Express News are expected to land him in further trouble. A bizarre line-up of guests on the show included Ilyas, Salman Butt, Sarfraz Nawaz, as well as a brief telephonic appearance from Ijaz Butt, chairman PCB.
Ilyas repeated most of his earlier criticisms on Afridi's performances as player and captain - stating again that he had refused to sign off on Afridi's selection in the squad for the West Indies ODI series - as well as explaining his response to the personal attacks. One particular remark, however, is likely to prove more incendiary than others, a derogatory proverb - not to be taken literally - involving dogs.
But what is likely to concern any number of observers is the presence of a board official on a talk show with Salman, who was banned earlier this year for ten years (five suspended) after being found guilty by a tribunal of spot-fixing. Butt was also critical of Afridi's captaincy, though he stressed that he had no personal issues with him. Afridi said only, "Everyone saw who was sitting with who on TV last night, so I don't want to say too much."
It will not be lost on neutrals and Afridi's supporters, that another personality critical of Afridi is said to be Mazhar Majeed, the player-agent allegedly at the centre of the spot-fixing controversy and currently under trial in the UK in the same case. On what is believed to be his twitter account, Majeed has been severely critical of Afridi thrice during the course of the last week or so.