Scotland news April 29, 2016

Aleem Dar's 'Scottish sons' cause Kilmarnock CC to be expelled from league

Wide of the mark: Aleem Dar's sons have been drawn into a controversy at Kilmarnock CC © Getty Images

Aleem Dar, the Pakistani umpire who recently officiated in his 100th Test, has been left embarrassed by a row involving one of Britain's oldest cricket clubs, after his sons were persuaded by a rogue club official to pretend to be Scottish in order to play in a league fixture.

Kilmarnock Cricket Club was this week thrown out of the first division of the Western District Cricket Union in Scotland after it emerged that Ali and Hassan Dar, aged 18 and 16, had circumvented eligibility rules by falsely claiming to have been born in Glasgow.

The pair were encouraged by Kilmarnock's vice president, Muhammad Saleem - who has since resigned - to register under the pseudonyms Umer Mustafa and Saleh Mustafa to compete for Kilmarnock during the 2015 season, including one fixture, against Stenhousemuir in August, which was watched by Dar himself.

The umpire's trip to watch the contest in question arose after England's three-day victory over Australia in the third Test at Edgbaston, which had left him with a free weekend to attend what he believed to be a friendly fixture at Stenhousemuir's Tryst ground.

"I do confirm that I, along with my wife, went to watch the game but it was a friendly game I thought," Dar told ESPNcricinfo. "I went there to watch my sons and nephew Azeem, but I didn't know that my sons were playing with different names.

"My sons are too young to tamper with the personal details," Dar added. "Both have Pakistani passports and they are proud to be Pakistanis. We have no doubt about that at any level. This entire story seems to be some kind of misunderstanding"

Although no official documents were involved in the subterfuge, Kilmarnock have been punished with relegation to the second tier of the Western District Cricket Union, after it emerged that "Umer" and "Saleh" had actually been born in Pakistan and had not spent enough time in the UK in the preceding months to qualify as full-time residents.

A Western Union official declared: "We received information regarding possible breaches of league rules and our investigation proved this to be the case.

"It was found that two players were registered with improper details and one, or both, participated in a number of matches during the 2015 season.

"The CMC [Cricket Management Committee] has decided to follow precedent by deducting all the points gained by Kilmarnock in the matches in which the two illegally registered players participated.

"Kilmarnock have therefore been deducted 49 points and are now relegated."

In a statement posted to the club's website, Kilmarnock accepted the punishment, but insisted it had been misled by "the fraudulent actions of a single committee member".

In his resignation letter, in which he also withdrew as a member of the club, Saleem apologised for the "distress and harm" he had caused to Kilmarnock CC and to the WDCU for bringing the game into disrepute.

However, he claimed in mitigation that the practice had been rife among several teams during the preceding six years, and asked that the WDCU committee tighten its policy to avoid such controversies in the future.

"The club denies in the strongest terms that we knowingly provided false and misleading information in the registration of the two players," Kilmarnock's statement continued.

"Whilst this has been a hugely stressful and ultimately disappointing period in the history of the club, we have fought back from fire, flood and countless other setbacks since 1852.

"The strength of any club is its members, and whilst it is galling that the fate of the club and its members has been influenced by the misguided efforts of a few, we as a club can push on again if everyone sticks together."

Kilmarnock, who won the league on seven occasions between 1949 and 1970, were replaced in the top flight by St Michael's, who had previously been relegated at the end of the 2015 season.

Dar, who is presently in Lahore, agreed that the fault for the controversy lay with the club officials.

"They should be enquired about this," he said. "If the club was relegated then that happened for a good reason. One son is 16 and the other is hardly 18. They did play the league matches there, but they had played many friendly games as well."

7.50pm BST: This story was updated with Aleem Dar's response
9pm BST, May 1: Further updated to reflect Muhammad Saleem's resignation

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. Umar Farooq is Pakistan correspondent.

Comments