Saleem Malik, former captain of Pakistan Cricket team is a victim of his own teammates who made him a scapegoat, managed to escape from heavy punishments and got lucrative assignments in the PCB. This is the crux of my interview with one of the most accomplished batsmen Pakistan has ever produced.
Meeting Saleem was a rare experience. When I reached at his residence he was busy in receiving sacks of annual wheat from his friend’s agricultural land. He took few minutes to settle down and talked frankly on various issues related to his career, allegations of match-fixing against him, treachery of his teammates and step mother treatment of the Board.
Though Saleem was candid yet he was visibly perturbed during the entire length of his narration of various injustices he faced during his entire cricket career, from his teammates, the PCB and Justice (retd) Qayyum.
Saleem was unfairly slapped a life ban and fine of Rs. 1 million by one man Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice (retd) Qayyum in May 2000.
In July the same year, PCB issued a show cause notice asking him as to why action may not be taken against him. He submitted his answer but PCB found it not satisfactory and in a letter dated 19.9.2000 directed him to deposit the fine. He protested his innocence, appealed against the ban in 2001 but the Lahore High Court rejected it.
He finally approached the Supreme Court in May 2008 where Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi, Justice Zia Perwaz, Justice Syed Zawwar Hussain Jafery heard his appeal and set aside the Lahore High Court judgement impugned against him and recommended the case to the trial court for decision of the suit on merit in accordance with law. The Apex Court observed: “Notwithstanding the fact that there was no mention of life ban on playing cricket in the order passed by PCB which was conveyed to appellate (Saleem) vide order dated 19-09-2000. Without prejudice to the rights of the parties, we observe that the Board has not imposed penalty as recommended by the Commission rather as it appeared from the order of 19-07-2000 only fine was imposed and the recommendation of life ban was not followed and given effect”. The Apex Court also observed that Justice (retd) Qayyum Commission under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act-1956 was not the punishing authority rather it had to make recommendations. And the PCB or its Chairman, or any person acting on its behalf also had no authority to impose such penalty. On SC directive, Saleem approached a Civil Court in Lahore which lifted his life ban on 23 October 2008.
Recently Saleem has made a statement in media in which he threatened PCB to decide his case otherwise he would be constrained to produce all match-fixing proofs to the ICC.
The statement was a vivid reflection of utter frustration of a cricketer who has been knocking at the doors of the Gaddafi Stadium, the headquarter of PCB, for last one decade and nobody is prepare to give him a fair audience and redress his issue. “If I had done any sin then those who were and are attached with the Board had also done the same sin.
They were made chief selectors and given coaching assignments but I was completely discarded”, complains Saleem Malik who looked visibly upset. He disclosed that after the Civil Court lifted life ban Ijaz Butt, the Chairman of PCB, summoned him in his office in November 2008. The writer is also privy of that meeting between Saleem and Butt in the Qaddafi Stadium on 3rd November, 2008. Ijaz knew Saleem’s batting caliber who was the first batsman who really got on top of legendary Shane Warne.
Butt had definitely offered Saleem position of Chief Coach in the National Cricket Academy but someone within the Board misguided him that ICC might object. Butt stepped back. Again in October 2012, Saleem submitted his application to PCB for the advertised position of batting coach but the same powerful lobby blocked his entry. “The ICC has no right to ask from PCB as how and why a cricketer has been allowed to resume cricket activities”, Malik argued and asked had ICC objected to Muhammad Amir‘s return to international cricket? “That was all rubbish”, he concluded.
Saleem Malik categorically denied writing any letter to PCB. “I have never written any letter to PCB in which I had apologized over my wrongs committed 19 years ago”, Malik asserted and added that if there is any such letter it should be produced in public.
The PCB claims that it has received a new inquiry from the ICC in 2011 and a questionnaire has been sent to the former Test cricketer. Saleem acknowledged that PCB had sent him a questionnaire but claims that no ICC document was attached with it. “The media should ask the PCB to show them ICC’s transcript against me,” he insisted.
When asked to comment on reports which were in circulation after the Justice (retd) Qayyum report that the players had managed the one man Commission Saleem said if they had approached the Judge he was not taken into confidence. “Had they taken me into confidence I could have been escaped from life ban there and then”, he said sarcastically.
It is unfortunate that some unscrupulous elements in the Board has spoiled Saleem’s career in the past and Pakistan has been deprived of a brilliant cricketer who still had some cricket in him.
Saleem has a genuine complain and PCB must do justice to him. His ban has been lifted. He must be allowed to start cricket activities at his own. He intends to start a cricket academy to impart his knowledge of cricket to the youngsters and the Board should not obstruct to his plans.