PCB chairman Shaharyar hopeful of Hafeez, Azhar return
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan is hopeful that his meeting with ODI captain Azhar Ali and Mohammad Hafeez will pave way for their participation in the ongoing conditioning camp in Lahore. Both players seemingly stayed away due to the presence of Mohammad Amir, who was suspended from international cricket for his involvement in the spot-fixing episode of 2010. Azhar and Hafeez are expected to provide their final response tomorrow morning, and according to Shaharyar, it is likely be a "positive" one. However, if they fail to return to training, Hafeez and Azhar may face disciplinary action.
The PCB has been trying to reintegrate Amir to the national set-up for a while now, with the latest step being his selection among 26 others to take part in this camp ahead of the tour of New Zealand. Two days ago, he was declared "eligible" for Pakistan selection having completed his rehabilitation. But the response from some of his team-mates has been mixed.
It is learnt that Azhar and Hafeez visited the camp grounds but did not want to train with Amir despite Waqar Younis and spin-bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed trying to persuade them.
Shaharyar had to intervene and called both players to the National Cricket Academy to explain the PCB's policy regarding Amir. "It was a good meeting and the issue has been resolved," Shaharyar said. "I met with our advisors and then invited them [Hafeez and Azhar] into the room and gave them a detailed briefing about our policy. We also heard their reservations, which they insisted, were not personal but based on principle."
"After hearing their concerns we informed them that they have to abide by the policy or we won't have any option but to take disciplinary action. They have agreed to the policy and we have requested them to come to the ground and be the part of the fitness camp. They have sought some time and will get back to us by 10 am tomorrow with an answer. I am fully convinced they will join the camp tomorrow as this matter has been resolved."
Shaharyar also said that Amir met with all the players again, apologised and offered to quit the camp if necessary.
Since his return to competitive cricket, Amir has impressed in Pakistan's domestic first-class competition and in the Bangladesh Premier League as well, but the PCB said that a final call on his international comeback ultimately rests with the selectors.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson