Hafeez, Azhar refuse Pak camp

Lahore, December 24

Pakistan cricket on Thursday braced for another storm when former Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez and current one-day skipper Azhar Ali refused to train with tainted paceman Mohammad Amir in an ongoing fitness camp.

Hafeez told head coach Waqar Younis he would not attend any part of the camp in which Amir will participate, sources close to the matter said. “Hafeez had talked about his reservations when Amir was included in the camp and after meeting with Waqar, Hafeez told him categorically that he will not attend any part of the camp in which Amir is present,” a source close to Hafeez told AFP.

One-day captain Azhar Ali also backed Hafeez in boycotting the camp staged to train the team for next month’s tour of New Zealand where they will play three one-day internationals and as many Twenty20 internationals. “Hafeez and I can’t accept Amir’s presence in the camp,” Ali told reporters in Lahore. “We are firm on our stance but are ready to talk to officials,” he said.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said they were making moves to convince Hafeez and Azhar, adding that they would respond to media in more detail only after meetings are completed. Amir, along with Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, was banned from the sport for a minimum of five years in 2011.

The trio were charged for spot fixing after taking money to arrange deliberate no balls in the Lord’s Test against England in 2010. But in September this year the International Cricket Council lifted sanctions against the three players. Amir’s ban was relaxed in January this year and he was allowed to play domestic matches.

He showed remarkable form on his return, taking 22 wickets in the non-first-class event followed by 34 in four qualifying rounds of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy. He then took 16 wickets in four first class matches of the Quaid Trophy before taking 14 wickets in 11 Bangladesh Premier league games.