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No conspiracy against you, PCB tells Umar Akmal

The Umar Akmal-Mickey Arthur saga continued on Friday after the former alleged Pakistan head coach of conspiring to throw him out of the squad in order “to retain batsman Azhar Ali and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez”.

Umar took to Twitter late on Thursday, saying he is ready to publicly apologise to Arthur if Pakistan chief selector Inzamamul Haq and Pakistan spin consultant Mushtaq Ahmed refute his allegations against head coach.

“If Inzamam and Mushtaq can swear on the Quran that Arthur didn’t abuse me, I will apologise to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the people of Pakistan publicly,” wrote Umar on twitter.

He then explained the events which led him to believe that he was being conspired against.

“I am being pushed out of cricket for the past three to four year according to a plan,” he wrote. “My last selection clarifies all of it. One thing is crystal clear here that Inzamam was not a part of this conspiracy since he selected me [in the squad].”

He continued: “I passed the fitness test at National Cricket Academy and was selected for the Champions Trophy. However, Arthur took a dummy test of the team when I reached England and declared me unfit so that he could send me back. This ascertained the fact that I was being conspired against.”

He then posed a question for Arthur. “The team just came back from the West Indies tour; didn’t Arthur know who was fit and who was not then?”

He answered the question himself, bringing in an alibi to support his argument. “The dummy fitness test was taken just to send me back. And I want to mention something here, which will further prove me right, that when the fitness test was being taken, sports journalist Yahya Hussaini told me that these people want you out of the team to accommodate Azhar and Hafeez; because if I played, one of the players will have to sit out.”

The 27-year-old said further said: “My career should not be ended using political ploys against me.”

PCB, having already issued Umar a show-cause notice on Thursday and demanded a reply within seven days after player’s outburst on broadcast media where he alleged that Arthur abused him for using the services of NCA, on Friday publicly condemned the 27-year-old’s Twitter rant.

“The PCB strongly condemns the reckless statements made by batsman Umar Akmal with regards to his omission from the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy squad,” read a PCB press release. “While making frivolous allegations against the national team management, Umar has made a bogus attempt to deviate attention from his own failings. Umar was given as many as seven chances to improve his fitness and match the standards of his teammates, laid out by the team management.”

The press release clarified the reason for Umar’s omission from the Champions Trophy squad. “Umar was given a program to improve his fitness like other players before the West Indies tour and after he failed the tests in Lahore, he was left out of the team,” it said. “After clearing another test before the squad selection on the eve of the ICC Champions Trophy in England, Umar was included in the eventual 15-member squad.”

The board further said that the fitness tests were a part of the board’s policy. “The PCB wants to stress that the team trainer conducts fitness tests of squad members before each international assignment and the tests before the Champions Trophy were conducted as a continuation of the policy.”

PCB also dismissed accusations that Arthur has anything against the middle-order batsman. “Head coach Mickey Arthur had placed Umar in his white-ball format plans and gave him repeated chances for redemption, unfortunately though the batsman remained incapable of reaching the requisite fitness level.”

The board then warned Umar from making baseless allegations and reminded him of preparing a response to their show-cause notice. “The PCB awaits his response to the show-cause issued to him Thursday and hopes that in the meantime, the batsman will refrain from making baseless allegations.”

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Azhar Hashmi

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