“60 rooms booked to accommodate other people”: Pakistan team under fire for ‘family time’ in USA

PTI, Jun 22, 2024, 12:43 PM IST

Pakistan’s disastrous T20 World Cup campaign in the USA has expectedly triggered a backlash against the players, who are being criticised for taking their families along, even as their beleaguered cricket board mulled invoking a new defamation law to tackle “unsubstantiated claims and reports”. According to a local media report, apart from the nearly 34 players, support staff, and officials who were part of the national squad in the USA, the team hotel was teeming with around 26 to 28 family members of the players.

These included their wives, children, parents and even siblings in some cases. Pakistan were eliminated after losing to India and debutants USA in their group league stage matches held in New York.

The report said players like Babar Azam, Haris Rauf, Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, and Muhammad Amir were among those who had family members travelling with them.

Babar, who is not married, had his father, mother and brothers staying in the team hotel.

“The extra expenses incurred on having families is obviously paid by players but having family members around does hit the focus of the players,” another report said.

“Some 60 rooms were booked where the team stayed to accommodate the other people travelling with the team. The environment was a family one with take-away dinners and outings being the norm for some players,” one report said.

Former Test wicketkeeper, Atiq uz Zaman said he could understand the players’ need to have their families with them on low-profile or bilateral tours.

But for a major event like the World Cup, the PCB should not have allowed such a gathering.

“In a World Cup, no families should have been allowed as the players needed to focus on their cricket. When you have families with you then a player’s attention and time is diverted from cricket,” Zaman said.

Amir had also taken his personal trainer to the World Cup at his own expense despite the team having a foreign trainer, strength conditioning coach, physiotherapist and doctor.

One report said that during training sessions, the left-arm pacer trained away from others, having taken permission from the board for this.

PCB mulls legal action against unverified reports

The Pakistan Cricket Board will be using a new defamation law by the Punjab government to go after digital or mainstream media who insinuate corruption by Pakistani players during the World Cup or make very personal remarks about them.

A reliable source in the PCB said that the Board’s legal department has already started working on possible notices under the new defamation law.

“These people will be asked to prove their allegations or face action under the new defamation law,” he said.

The Punjab assembly recently passed the bill related to digital media and defamation laws under which any digital journalist or media personality making unsubstantiated allegations or personal attacks on a public figure which put him in danger of public backlash can face a heavy fine and also time in jail if found guilty.

The law also states a decision has to come in six months and cases should not linger on.

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This is after skipper Babar Azam was accused of accepting an expensive car as gift by YouTuber.

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