x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Coach keeping his fingers crossed

The Pakistan coach is hoping the futures of Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer become clearer and justice is done today.

ABU DHABI // Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, is hoping the futures of Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer becomes clearer today when the two-day International Cricket Council's Code of Conduct Commission hearing concludes.

Butt and Aamer will be at the ICC's headquarters in Dubai again today continuing their appeal against their provisional suspension for alleged spot-fixing during the tour of England in the summer. The suspensions were handed out by the game's governing body after the News of the World claimed to have exposed a scam in which planned no-balls would be bowled by Aamer and Mohammad Asif during the Lord's Test against England, with the involvement of Butt, who was then captain.

Following a hearing chaired by Michael Beloff, the chairman of the ICC's Code of Conduct Commission, a decision on whether the players can temporarily resume their careers is expected today.

A date has yet to be announced for the full hearing before an independent tribunal into the allegations. This could hinge on the outcome of the ongoing police investigation in the UK, where the case against the players is with the Crown Prosecution Service.

"I hope the whole thing clears up," Waqar said. "Justice should be done. I don't really know exactly what the justice is at this moment. Hopefully, we will find out … or some of it and we will see from thereon."

Before leaving Pakistan, Butt said that he was innocent and hoped to be cleared.

"Either you are guilty or you are not, and I am not guilty and I am sure about it," Butt told reporters. Aamer, in his first public comments since he was suspended on September 2, also said he hoped to be cleared.

"I hope to get the suspension lifted and will be part of the team," he said.

Aftab Gul, Butt's lawyer, said he was confident they had a good case and would be back on the pitch soon.

"We are going for justice in their court," Gul said in Pakistan. "We can't pre-empt what decision they give, it's their discretion, but our case is very good.

"There is no strong evidence against Salman Butt on the basis of which we can say that he should remain suspended."

Butt's other lawyer, Khalid Ranjha, a former Pakistan law minister, said there was no evidence other than what was provided by the British tabloid newspaper. "I don't see any substantive evidence against Salman Butt," he said. "I can read bias into this case."

Mohsin Khan, Pakistan's chief selector, meanwhile, has said that he would welcome back both cricketers into the team if their suspensions were lifted. Khan told the daily Dawn that "we will seek a No Objection Certificate from the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) to immediately consider their cases for national selection".

Already without the suspended trio, Waqar revealed that Kamran Akmal, who many thought had been dropped from the squad, missed out on the series against South Africa because of an appendicitis operation. "I guess he is just getting fitter now," Waqar said. "That's what I know as far as I am concerned."

The absence of these four players, according to Waqar, has been one of the primary reasons for Pakistan's disappointing performances in the UAE thus far. After losing both the Twenty20 (T20) matches, they lost the first one-day international (ODI) on Friday night by eight wickets.

"I must say that Pakistan cricket is going through some seriously tough times," Waqar said. "We lost a few players after the England tour. It's been a little tough at the moment. I think that's one big reason that we are struggling at the moment."

* With agency