DUBAI // The Pakistan cricket team will arrive in the Emirates for their two-match Twenty20 series against England in disarray with Intikhab Alam, their coach, left at home to face an inquiry into their disastrous tour of Australia. Pakistan were whitewashed in all three formats of the game in Australia, losing three Test matches, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20, and the result has prompted calls from former players and fans for heads to roll.
Iqbal Qasim, the chief of selectors, has already resigned, but Alam, having accepted "full responsibility" for the defeats, is determined to continue and face the inquiry committee set up by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to probe the debacle. The six-member inquiry committee, which includes Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan captain and fast bowling great, has been asked to submit a detailed report before the end of the month on the causes behind the team's poor show in Australia.
"The committee will hold its first meeting by Friday and decide on a course of action on how to conduct the probe and when to submit its findings to the board," said Wasim Bari, the PCB's chief operating officer. As Alam stays in Pakistan to answer the inquiry committee, Ijaz Ahmed, the former Test batsman will take the responsibilities of batting and fielding coach for the two games against England, scheduled at the Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium for February 19 and 20.
In addition to Alam, Pakistan will also be travelling without six of the players who were on the tour of Australia. Shahid Afridi is in the 14-man squad but will not play the first match due to a two-match ban for ball tampering and Shoaib Malik will instead lead the team. Mohammed Asif will not make the trip as the fast bowler is barred from entering the UAE after being caught carrying opium on a previous visit, while Mohammed Aamer, their young pace sensation, is absent due to a groin injury.
The batsmen Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt and bowler Rao Iftikhar have been dropped after their poor show in Australia. Abdul Razzaq, the all-rounder, and Yasir Arafat are recalled, while two young pace bowlers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Talha will get their first opportunity to impress. The PCB, meanwhile, have ruled out any further action against Afridi for the ball-tampering incident, which was described as one of cricket's darkest moments by Alam. He appeared to bite the ball during the final one-day game against Australia.
"We can't penalise him again as he has already been banned for two matches by the ICC," said Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman. "There is no doubt what he did was totally unacceptable and brought a bad name to the team." The squad: Shoaib Malik (captain), Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, Khalid Latif, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Arafat, Abdul Razzaq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Gul, Muhammad Talha, Fawad Alam, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal.