akistan Super League (PSL) Chairman Najam Sethi has said there were reports regarding possible spot-fixing in the league even before the tournament began, but said players were allowed to continue playing as authorities gave them the “benefit of the doubt”.
Answering a question during Geo TV’s show ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath’ about the arrest of two persons in the UK in connection with the spot-fixing probe, Sethi said, “We have been exchanging the information that we have with the ICC and the action has been taken on the same basis.”
He said several members of PCB’s Anti-Corruption Unit are former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officers who acted “very responsibly” during the investigation. He said some players also cooperated by revealing what kind of offer was made.
Sethi said Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif, the two Islamabad United players suspended during the fixing probe, “accept what they have done” and are seeking forgiveness. He said a charge-sheet would be issued in two days which would contain all the details.
When asked about PCB’s reaction upon finding out that players were in touch with bookies, Sethi said it was extremely shocking when a player informed them that this kind of thing was taking place.
“We were still deciding on what action to take when we got another report that this [spot fixing] was going to be carried out in the first match [of PSL].”
We then deliberated whether to stop the activity or let it take place for it to be proven a crime, he said.
“Because it was a matter of spot-fixing and not match fixing, it wasn’t right to catch someone without hearing someone out or someone actually committing the crime. Hence it was jointly decided to give [the players] benefit of the doubt.”
When the players did what had been suspected, “we decided to call them and inform them that this law applies to you and you are being suspended”.
The PSL chairman said they had multiple pieces of evidence to implicate the players.
“We have these players’ phones in which there is more information who they were in touch with, what they talked about.”
He said if the PCB hadn’t acted promptly, the crime would have taken a very “dangerous direction” in the league.
“PCB has not crushed anything with force before this. But this is changing now… we will not tolerate any type of corruption”.
Fresh player draft on Feb 22
PSL will give franchisees the option to draft new players in case contracted international stars opt out of the March 5 final at Lahore due to security reasons, Sethi also said.
“On Feb 22, we will do a new draft… we will put a formula in front of all the franchises and foreign players to let us know who will play the final in Lahore and who will not come.”
International stars, including West Indies batsman Chris Gayle, Shane Watson of Australia and England’s Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan, are among 30 foreign players contracted to five teams in the PSL Twenty20 tournament, which is being staged mostly in the United Arab Emirates.
The PCB had promised to provide top-level security to the PSL finalists at Gaddafi Stadium. But a bomber targeting police negotiating with protesting pharmacists on Monday killed 13 people in Lahore, casting fresh doubt over whether foreign cricketers will risk a return to playing in Pakistan.
Sethi said he had been in contact with several foreign players who indicated they would be willing to play the final in Lahore.
“We are in touch with other foreign players so that we could replace those (contracted international) players who are not willing to play in Lahore.”
A report last month by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) warned foreign players from traveling to Pakistan for matches.
Pakistan has not hosted any major test playing countries since 2009 when terrorists attacked a bus and police convoy taking the Sri Lanka national team to a test match at Lahore.