Cricket chiefs had ‘no option’ but to send Haq home

Majid Haq engaged a lawyer to act on his behalf in his dispute with Cricket Scotland. Picture: SNS

Majid Haq engaged a lawyer to act on his behalf in his dispute with Cricket Scotland. Picture: SNS

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Scottish cricket chiefs have moved to defend themselves over accusations of mismanagement over the handling of Majid Haq’s expulsion from this year’s World Cup, days after the country’s most-capped player had his suspension lifted after three months on the sidelines.

The 32-year-old, who has six months left on his playing contract, has now been officially cleared for selection following the end of a protracted disciplinary investigation in the wake of a tweet that read: ‘“Always tougher when you’re in the minority! #colour #race”, sent following a decision to drop him from the team during the showpiece.

Relations between player and employer may now be fractured beyond repair after it was revealed that the spinner declined to offer an apology for his actions – and accept a verbal warning on his record – at a meeting on 4 June with Cricket Scotland’s interim chief executive Willie Donald, opting instead to engage well-known Scottish lawyer Aamer Anwar to pursue a formal resolution to the affair.

However the governing body last night claimed they were left with no option but to send Haq home from Australia due to a breach of Section 6 of the tournament’s code of conduct – governing the behaviour of players and officials – that could have seen the International Cricket Council opt to set their own disciplinary processes in motion.

“That could have meant Majid was fined his match fees and been suspended,” Donald said. “However the issue for us was the motivation in the dressing room because he had seriously disappointed the dressing room and his coaches. And we had already lost four games.

“So the guys were already down before the two hardest games in Sri Lanka and Australia. From a team perspective that could have been disastrous. So he had to be removed from the dressing room. He was left out and should have accepted that with good grace.”

Haq, who will not be involved in next month’s World Twenty20 qualifiers, has described the punishment as “very disappointing” but Anwar has moved to offer further defence of his client, accusing Cricket Scotland of a “kneejerk reaction” by interpreting the social media posting as a criticism of the selectors, rather than a political comment, and then throwing him to the wolves.

“Seeing Majid, the impact has been traumatic,” Anwar said. “He’s put in a lot of work to reach his position. And I think it’s remarkable that in a modern Scotland, the matter should have been handled in that manner. And we have seen other instances where other individuals have tweeted and the reaction has been different.”

That might be seen as a barb aimed at a recent post by vice-captain Kyle Coetzer, who published an online response in the wake of his exclusion from the Saltires squad, only to find himself recalled days later amid assertions of a miscommunication over his availability. But Donald said: “We were not happy with Kyle’s posting and we made that clear. However I will say he called me the next day to apologise.”

Despite his enduring value in the four-day format of the Intercontinental Cup, Haq may find fences hard to mend, even with his longevity and his track record as a role model for young Asian cricketers. Through his representatives, his sense of grievance remains a festering wound. “It’s extremely disappointing that three months have been allowed to pass and now we read in the media that there are questions about his fitness,” Anwar added. “Surely, this matter could have been accelerated because we have a summer of cricket coming up.”

There is, he said, a vibe that the stand-off is now being brushed under the carpet. Not so, counters Donald. It is merely a process that has naturally run its course. “It really doesn’t matter to us now,” he said. “If we’d gone to the ICC in Australia, we’d have had to keep him out there. The players wanted him out immediately. The dressing room is very important to us.”

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