Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday removed Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf, in the latest twist to a long-running saga dogging the national body.
It is the second time in less than a year that Ashraf has been removed and the board will now be temporarily run by an 11-member interim committee appointed by Sharif.
Ashraf’s removal by court order in May last year due to doubts over his election led to a series of legal challenges that critics say has damaged the sport in Pakistan.
A notice from the prime minister, who is also patron of the board, confirmed Ashraf’s ouster.
The reasons for Ashraf’s removal are still unknown, but sources pointed to his failure to give Pakistan a strong voice at a crucial International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in Singapore on Saturday.
The world body approved a controversial revamp at the meeting that gave major powers and revenue to the “Big Three” of world cricket: India, Australia and England.
However, Ashraf, who had been due to announce a replacement for Dav Whatmore as head coach for Pakistan’s national team, insisted that he was still chairman.
“I have yet to see the notification,” he said in Lahore. “If I am removed I will consult my lawyers to decide the course of action.”
The interim committee has the power to select a new chairman, with journalist Najam Sethi the favorite to regain the post.
After Ashraf’s sacking in May last year, Sethi was name as chairman, but then another court ruling curtailed his powers.
Sharif in October last year imposed an ad hoc setup on the board and Sethi took over as chairman of an interim committee, but that situation changed again last month when a two-man division bench of the Islamabad High Court reinstated Ashraf.
In other cricketing news, ICC chairman-elect Narayanaswami Srinivasan yesterday suffered a blow when an Indian Supreme Court panel probing a match-fixing scandal said his son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, was guilty of illegal betting on games.
After an extensive probe, the three-member panel said allegations of Indian Premier League match-fixing against Meiyappan required further investigation, the Press Trust of India reported.
The panel, headed by retired judge Mukul Mudgal, suggested that Meiyappan may have passed on information to outsiders for betting during the Twenty20 competition, the news agency said. Meiyappan was team principal of the Chennai Super Kings, a league franchise owned by Srinivasan’s India Cements and captained by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The court appointed the panel on Oct. 8 last year to investigate the scandal that rocked the popular tournament run by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
The probe was separate from investigations by police, who have filed charges against a string of officials, players and bookmakers for illegal betting during the tournament. Mumbai police charged Meiyappan with forgery, cheating, criminal conspiracy, breach of contract and handing critical team information to alleged bookmakers.
The panel spent four months interacting with players, league team owners, police, journalists, anti-corruption personnel and other stakeholders. Its 170-page report, with more than 4,000 pages of annexes, was handed to Supreme Court judges Ananga Kumar Patnaik and Jagdish Singh Khehar yesterday. The court will take up the report on March 7.