Former PCB chairman Ijaz Butt on Wednesday said he stands by his statement that there was a rift in the Pakistan cricket team even as M Hafeez and Misbahul Haq have dismissed such comments publicly.Butt had said T20 captain Hafeez and coach Whatmore were trying to side-line Misbah, a comment which prompted the PCB to ask Misbah and Hafeez to hold an impromptu press conference and deny the allegations. Hafeez said that Butt's comments were damaging Pakistan's reputation.However, Butt said what he said was nothing but truth.
"Both Hafeez and Whatmore support and back each other and that has put great pressure on Misbah, affecting his performance. I am doing nothing to damage Pakistan cricket. I am just saying what nearly everyone is saying since the South Africa tour," Butt said.Differences in the team, dressing room politics and intrigues and manipulations to force a captain to step down are nothing new in Pakistan cricket. In the recent past in 2009 Younus Khan was forced to step down as captain after some players ganged up against him and went to the then chairman Butt to complain that Younus' behaviour and attitude was not acceptable to them.
Interestingly earlier in the same year the board removed Shoaib Malik as captain after similar complaints against him. It was a well-documented fact that Javed Miandad was only sacked as captain in 1993 by the board after former captain, Imran Khan had influenced some players to revolt against his captaincy. Rumours about problems between Hafeez and Misbah gained momentum in the mid of the South African tour after Pakistan were whitewashed in the Test series. At one stage there was even talk about the Board contemplating appointing Hafeez as the one-day skipper in place of Misbah.But Misbah, 39, stormed back into form first in the one-day series in SA which Pakistan lost narrowly by 2-3 and then guided Faisalabad Wolves to the National super eights T20 title in Lahore with some stirring performances with the bat.
The highlight of the event was when Faisalabad upset the strong Lahore Lions side, led by Hafeez, in the semi-finals. Hafeez insisted at the press conference that Pakistan lost to SA because of cricketing reasons. "South Africa was the better side than us and they won. We didn't lose because of any dressing room conspiracies," he maintained.Hafeez, who had replaced Misbah as the national T20 captain skipper last May said respectable people such as Butt and other former players needed to support the team for the Champions Trophy which was a very important event for them. Pakistan are bracketed with India, South Africa and the West Indies in the group stage of the tournament.