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Editorial

November 10, 2010

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Running scared

Running scared

Just as the furore over the allegations about match-fixing was beginning to subside, yet another drama comes down the pitch. Pakistani wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider disappeared from his hotel in Dubai and flew to London, leaving the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) gasping for breath and the wider cricketing world wondering what might be at the bottom of his sudden flight. He was due to play in a match against South Africa in Dubai (which we lost) and Haider, safe in London, is beginning to give detail on why he left so precipitously. It was on his Facebook page that Haider posted that he had received threats from an unnamed source linked to a demand that he ‘lose the last game’ – which is presumably a reference to the last match of the series. He has been in phone contact with his family and has also spoken to Geo and announced his retirement from international cricket. It was reported that he might seek political asylum and immigration officials are said to have advised him to seek legal advice in this respect. Late in the evening he was reported to have spent three hours with Scotland Yard, and sent a message saying he was ready to rejoin the team if the PCB was willing to take him back and if the government would ensure his safety.
It is too early to say anything definitive much beyond the bare facts, yet they are startling enough. A player who is no backwoods-boy – he comes from a middle class family in Lahore and is reasonably educated – suddenly, and without telling either his team mates or management body, is sufficiently scared by something or somebody to flee to another country. He breached team rules regarding match-fixing and corruption by not reporting the alleged threat to his managers or the ICC corruption unit, and now sits beyond their immediate reach. It seems unlikely that he would concoct a story such as this. He was riding high having scored the winning runs in the last match he played in, and had not been connected to any ‘scandal’ thus far. If his story proves to be true and he is able to corroborate its primary elements, then far from being deflected the fingers of criminal deception and corruption are still able to reach deep within the body of Pakistan cricket. We are going to be hearing a lot more of the troubles of Mr Haider and of cricket generally and ‘our’ cricket specifically in coming days – and there is little of it likely to be good.

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