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March 12, 1999


The Rediff Interview/ Aamir Sohail

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'On what grounds am I being dropped?'

Aamir Sohail, the Pakistan southpaw, has been in the news lately, more for his antics off the field than on it.

Famous for his volatile temper and outspoken nature, Aamir has now taken on the Pakistan selectors.

After he was omitted from the World Cup short list, Sohail complained about his exclusion to the Pakistan president's secretariat. The president has now asked the national selection committee to explain why they ignored Sohail's claims for inclusion in the Pakistan team.

Faisal Shariff spoke to Sohail on the telephone on Friday evening.

Is it true that you have complained to the Pakistan president over your omission from the side?

How did you find out about it? Yes I have, but I cannot divulge the contents of my complaint because it is between the president's secretariat and me. Now it will be between the Pakistan Cricket Board and the president.

Do you see your omission as a conspiracy against you?

I don't know if there is a conspiracy or not. I have been dropped from the side; that means I will be unable to play the World Cup. Mind you, my omission has nothing to do with my form or my performance. I have just scored a hundred, a big one, against Hyderabad in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. You tell me what you think: Have I been dropped because I am out of form?

I led Pakistan recently. On what grounds am I being dropped? I think they just had to do it to me.

Don't you think if you rejoin the team there might be tensions? You know you are not in the good books of most of your teammates.

What tensions are you talking about? When I play my cricket I play for my country. What has that got to do with the players? A team has to perform, and perform well to get results. That is exactly what I wanted to do. But unfortunately I have been denied my chance.

How can a team perform if its morale is torn apart by internal squabbles? How do you think you can play under Wasim Akram, whom you have accused of match-fixing?

When I play my cricket, I play for Pakistan. I am focused only on the game. Anyway, I am playing for my country, not for Wasim Akram. The tension between Wasim and me has been resolved. What you are talking about is an old matter. A lot of water has passed under the bridge. It is not like I haven't played with him after that. We played together in Pakistan against Australia. And there were no tensions.

Don't you think you have been irresponsible? You walked out on the team in the Zimbabwe series; was that justified?

(Angrily) What do you mean irresponsible! In the Zimbabwe series I could not take part because I was busy.

Do you think that is reason enough? Can you excuse yourself, saying you are busy and not make yourself available for national duty, more so when you were the captain?

(Fuming) Look here, I had personal reasons. Can't a man excuse himself if he has family matters to attend to?

My mother had taken ill and she needed me to be by her side. Should I be playing at that point of time?

Was the PCB aware of the reason for your absence? Did you inform them about it?

Yes, of course, the board was aware of the reason for my absence. I had informed them about it. If they say I had not informed them about it, then it is not my fault.

Are you not disappointed that you missed out on the tour of India?

I had once said it was my long-standing dream to play in a Test against India and score a hundred. The people at the helm have denied me this chance. I was disappointed when I was not picked for the tour to India. I still nurture a dream of playing against India in India and defeating them on their home soil.

Could you please tell us what the contents of your letter to the President was?

Don't worry my friend, you will know about it very soon. It will be out in the open for all to see and pass their judgement. I promise you it will be out real soon. It would be wrong on my part to divulge anything about it.

Is it true you convinced Ata-ur-Rahman to write the affidavit that alleged Wasim Akram had offered him money to throw a match away?

This is untrue. I have never influenced anybody to lodge a complaint, leave alone an affidavit to frame any individual. Ata did what he thought was right.

How do you rate Pakistan's chances at the World Cup this May?

We have a good side. The team is performing well. I don't see any reason why we should not be a strong contender. I think Pakistan is amongst the top three sides to lift the trophy.

Is match fixing still happening in Pakistan cricket?

I don't know!

But you alleged, even when you were not an active member of the team, that Pakistan cricket was plagued by matchfixers. Why are you retracting now?

(Angrily) Who is retracting? Look, what I said stood for that period. If you ask me now about matchfixing, how do you expect me to answer you? I said I don't know if it still happens. Sure, it used to happen earlier, but that is history.

What do you suggest should be done to clean the game of match fixing?

This is a matter in court. I think it would be wrong for me to talk about it. The judge will decide who has wronged the game and try them. The severest punishment should be accorded to them. Beyond this, I cannot say anything more.

Lastly, why did you launch a web site?

I think it has become important for everyone to be aware of the Internet. I also launched my website with this in mind. I am currently having some copyright problems, but next week onwards it will be updated regularly. I will be putting up my articles from time to time. I want to create awareness about the game.

Aamir Sohail's Web Page

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