LAHORE: The ‘soap opera’ in Pakistan cricket continued on Friday when wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider was fined Rs500,000 and also put on a year’s probation for violating the team’s code of conduct when he flew to London last year without informing the team management over alleged death threats. Haider appeared before a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) disciplinary committee and committee chairman Sultan Rana announced the decision after a two-hour hearing. “Zulqarnain will also be under a one-year probation period during which his conduct will be observed,” Rana told reporters. Haider fled the team hotel in Dubai last November while playing in a one-day series against South Africa and landed in London. He said he had been threatened by an unknown person who wanted him to cooperate in match-fixing during the series. He returned home in April after getting security assurances from Interior Minister Rehman Malik and was told to appear and face disciplinary proceedings by the PCB.Haider who made his Test debut last year against England at Edgbaston, scoring 88 runs, said he had no evidence to support his allegations or claims. Rana said that Haider’s case had been dealt with on compassionate grounds and mitigating circumstances were taken into consideration. “Haider has withdrawn all his allegations against the board or fellow players and also admitted he had no evidence to support his claim that a bookmaker had approached him in Dubai to fix matches,” Rana said. “Haider asked us to consider his case on compassionate grounds and mitigating circumstances as his father is very ill and needs treatment. We have fined him a token five hundred thousand rupees and imposed a one-year probation on him,” he said.
In the aftermath of his flight, Haider had filed an application for asylum in the UK, which hinged on the nature of the information he was able to divulge, as the extraordinary nature of his case appeared to fall outside the usual conditions required of a person seeking refugee status. He had also announced his retirement from international cricket. Last month, Haider reversed his retirement from international cricket, but Rana said it was up to the PCB and its selection committee whether they would consider him for the national team. On Thursday, the PCB fined former captain Shahid Afridi Rs 4.5 million over a breach of contract by announcing his retirement from international cricket and levelling allegations against the PCB. Like Afridi, Haider acknowledged that he had erred.
Haider said he had accepted his misconduct before the disciplinary committee and would try not to ‘repeat the mistakes in future.’ “I did what I thought was right at that time,” he said of his decision to leave the team on the day when Pakistan were due to play their fifth and final ODI against South Africa. “With the passage of time I realized that I committed a mistake. I should have informed the PCB, I should have informed my seniors.” Haider said he wanted to concentrate on cricket and accepted the decision of the inquiry committee. “I just want to play cricket and it all depends on the selection committee whether they pick me for the national team or not.” – Dailytimes