Top Pakistan players rebel against Javed

Seven Senior Pakistan players yesterday threatened to withdraw from the winter series against England after falling out with their coach, Javed Miandad. This does not make them unique in the annals of the game, since Javed probably argues with himself in the absence of anybody else.

Seven Senior Pakistan players yesterday threatened to withdraw from the winter series against England after falling out with their coach, Javed Miandad. This does not make them unique in the annals of the game, since Javed probably argues with himself in the absence of anybody else.

He was a great batsman who played it hard and knew his own worth to the side. From a pretty lowly background, he would doubtless have been a boxer, had he been born in the Bronx. A description of him as a Karachi street-fighter may be wide of the mark, but that does not make it inapposite. His presence could make for a lively winter.

The dispute with most of his team arose over Javed's insistence on taking a share of the cash that Pakistan won in the ICC Knock-out tournament. It seemed to reflect the volatile nature of the game in the country. That was demonstrated again almost as soon as the septet had issued their warning, when they apparently retreated after the intervention of higher authority in the form of Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board. Anybody unaware of the general's influence over affairs had their cards marked, not only by his swift dismissal of the dispute, but his observations of how he sees his role.

Lt Gen Tauqir examines Pakistan's team when the selectors make an announcement and then delivers his verdict. "I regularly exercise my veto," he said cheerfully.

He also had news for the team's former captain, Wasim Akram, one of the seven who has so far refused to pay a fine levied by the Board after an inquiry into match-rigging last year. If Wasim does not pay up within two days, it will be docked from his match fees.

Wasim, the present captain Moin Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Saeed Anwar, Waqar Younis, Ijaz Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq made up the rebels. They still appeared barely to be on speaking terms with the coach yesterday and there was a feeling among those who know the side well that this is not over yet. The players, it was being said, were merely exercising their muscles early.

As a formidable batsman with an uncompromising array of strokes, Javed did not make friends easily. He has taken his combative nature with him into his new life as a coach, where he clearly has the backing of Tauqir, who has given him a contract till 2003.

Tauqir said: "If there was any dispute with the players I thought the management would tell me and I didn't know. When I heard, the players told me there was nothing to it.

"As far as cricket is concerned there are minor differences which always happen in a family. These are not the type that will affect the unity of the team."

However, he touched on the matter which could cause potential difficulties with Javed in future. "He drives himself and he drives the players hard as well. He may want them to do four rounds when they only want to do two."

He also had words of warning for Wasim. Unless the former captain appeals he must pay a fine of $4,000 (£2,800) by tomorrow. This was imposed last year by Mr Justice Qayyum after his report into match-rigging. No direct allegations against the all-rounder were substantiated but Qayyum recognised the implications.

On the subject of umpires, Tauqir said he was unworried about the series. He claimed to have personally vetoed potentially contentious appointments and appeared to be surprised to be told that Shakeel Khan had been appointed as third umpire in the Second Test. Shakeel was the umpire on England's last tour in the First Test 13 years ago when, the tourists alleged, he made nine dodgy decisions. But it was pointed out that people can improve in 13 years.

"We want it to be a good, close series against England," said the General, who has been in office since November. The winter does not start in anger, so to speak, until Tuesday with the first one-day international but it is clear everybody should fasten their seat-belts for a bumpy ride.

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