Pakistan cricketer Zulqarnain Haider, who fled to London from Dubai yesterday, had received death threats from match-fixers and felt “pressure” from within his own squad, his brother said today.
Wicketkeeper Haider, 24, quit Pakistan’s five-match one-day series against South Africa and arrived in London seeking asylum. His brother Raza Haider said the player called his family today from a hotel near Heathrow Airport.
“He said (he’s had) some internal issues and some threats from unknown persons so he’s a bit scared,” Raza Haider said in a telephone interview from Lahore, Pakistan. “Throughout the series he was saying, ‘I’m in pressure, I’m in pressure.’”
Haider went missing from the Pakistan team’s hotel in Dubai yesterday, three days after the fourth one-day international. His brother said he’s retired from the national team and is seeking legal advice over the asylum claim.
Pakistan’s top diplomat in the U.K. said Haider has yet to seek any support from consular officials in London.
“We can’t help him if doesn’t approach us,” Wajid Shamsul Hasan, High Commissioner of Pakistan to the U.K., said in an interview today. “I have asked my officers to find out where he is.”
The U.K.’s Home Office told Bloomberg News it doesn’t comment on individual cases. Hasan said it’s unlikely an application for asylum would be successful.
“I think he’s been ill advised because they don’t give asylum that easily anymore,” the High Commissioner said. “He hasn’t been persecuted by a state, in fact the state of Pakistan wants to help him.”
The International Cricket Council, the sport’s governing body, yesterday said it had been contacted by officials in Pakistan on Haider’s disappearance, and today said it’s willing to help the player.
Haider scored a match-winning 19 not out to help bring Pakistan level at 2-2 on Nov. 5 in the series against South Africa.
“I received death threats to lose the fourth and fifth one-day internationals against South Africa, but I could not compromise the dignity of my country,” Haider was quoted as saying by Geo News.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said the player didn’t report any issues to them.
“PCB has informed Dubai police of the incident and also has brought it into the notice of ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit,” it said in a statement on its website. “All other concerned authorities were also taken into the loop.”
Haider will write a letter to cricket officials in which he’ll “address all the concerns,” Raza Haider said.
The ICC is trying to reform the Pakistan board after several investigations into alleged misdeeds by the country’s team this summer. Pakistan captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were accused of anti-corruption violations by the ICC last month and suspended. The players have denied the charges.
The ICC today offered support to the PCB and Haider.
“The ICC has today confirmed that it is in regular communication with the Pakistan Cricket Board and has offered to support the PCB in its current investigations into the reasons behind wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider’s decision to leave the Pakistan team,” the ICC said in a statement. It offered Haider “any help he needs.”
“Clearly this is in the first instance a team matter for Pakistan cricket but the ICC is willing to provide assistance to the PCB and the player,” ICC Chief Executive Officer Haroon Lorgat said in the statement. “We understand his plight if reports are indeed true, but we can only help if he is willing to engage with us.”
Last month, the governing body ended a probe of scoring in the Sept. 17 one-day cricket match between England and Pakistan, saying it found “no compelling evidence to suspect individual players or support staff” of cheating.
Pakistan played South Africa in Dubai because security concerns mean it’s unable to play matches at home.
South Africa beat Pakistan in the fifth and final match yesterday to win the series 3-2.
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