UAE player Ghulam Shabber 'is part of the ICC’s anti-corruption investigation'

Wicketkeeper, who denied any wrongdoing after suddenly quitting the T20 World Cup Qualifier squad, has been suspended by the Emirates Cricket Board

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - October 22, 2018: Ghulam Shabber of the UAE bats in the match between the UAE and Australia in a T20 international. Monday, October 22nd, 2018 at Zayed cricket stadium oval, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Even as the UAE players were trying to come to terms with the fact there will be no T20 World Cup for them next year, they were unable to escape the cloud of corruption.

A little over an hour after the end of their 90-run loss to Scotland at the Dubai International Stadium, the Emirates Cricket Board issued a statement saying Ghulam Shabber is under investigation for corruption.

The wicketkeeper went absent without leave eight days earlier, after two matches of the Qualifier in Abu Dhabi, and flew to Pakistan.

Initially, the issue was said to be independent from the ICC’s corruption probe that had already seen four UAE players – Mohammed Naveed, Shaiman Anwar, Qadeer Ahmed, and Ashfaq Ahmed – banned.

The ICC had indicated on Monday that Shabber had been suspended by the ECB for “opting out of the UAE squad without intimation,” while the tournament’s technical committee permitted a replacement for him.

Two days later, the governing body for the game here said he was being investigated.

“The ECB has today confirmed the board has suspended UAE player Ghulam Shabber for absconding,” the board said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The board also confirms he is part of the ongoing ICC anti-corruption investigation.”

When contacted by The National last week, Shabber had said he was ready to comply with the investigation, but that he had retired from cricket.

“If there is something with regards to anti-corruption, I am ready to cooperate in Pakistan,” he said.

“But I have decided cricket is not in my future. I have left cricket behind, and want to move on with my life with my family.”

Shabber had left the country with no explanation on the night of Monday, October 21.

His absence was first noted when he failed to show for the team meeting the following morning.

With the team already in disarray after the suspension of four senior players, Shabber’s departure infuriated those left. The players are believed to have helped themselves to the kit he had left behind.

“No formal charges have been laid against the player at this stage,” the ECB statement read.

“The board fully supports the ICC and the ICC anti-corruption unit in their efforts, and denounces any activities of corruption.”

Wednesday was also the deadline for Shaiman, Naveed and Qadeer to have responded to the charges brought against them by ICC for breaching cricket’s anti-corruption code.

While Shaiman has remained silent, Naveed and Qadeer are understood to have contacted the ICC to contest at least some of the content of their charges.

However, both have acknowledged they did fail to report suspect approaches to them, which was the offence for which Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan was given a two-year ban on Tuesday.