LAHORE, November 9 – Pakistan wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider on Tuesday announced his retirement from international cricket after abandoning the team and flying to London, saying he had received death threats.The 24-year-old on Monday failed to report in Dubai for Pakistan’s one-day international against South Africa.
The latest scandal to hit the country’s national game follows a slew of spot- and match-fixing allegations, and disciplinary problems.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said they had informed Dubai police of his disappearance. Sky Television later broadcast images that it said were of Haider arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport.
"I am retiring from international cricket," Haider told Pakistan’s Geo television by telephone from London.
"There is too much pressure on me, I have received death threats, my family has received threats," he said in the interview, without naming anyone or elaborating in precise detail on why he was threatened.
The wicket-keeper said he was threatened in the team’s hotel in Dubai, after playing a crucial knock of 19 not out in the fourth match victory over South Africa in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.
"When I went out of the hotel to eat dinner once he came up. He was alone but I felt there were two-three people behind him. I can describe him. He spoke Urdu but I cannot describe the accent accurately," Haider said.
"He said ‘You will make lots of money if you join us and help us. If not, then staying in the team could be difficult and we can make things difficult for you.’ I don’t know why I was approached and others weren’t."
The PCB will investigate Haider’s case and said he should have told managers about the threats, but Haider said he kept quiet to protect other players.
"If I had told the PCB or players, it would’ve gotten out and then who knows? I don’t feel it would’ve been better to tell anyone or authorities there. If I had told any of the other players, it might have put them in trouble also," he said.
Haider thanked the PCB for giving him a chance to play for Pakistan.
"I would like to thank the chairman and selectors for supporting me and selecting me. The management has not put me under any pressure over anything," he said.
Haider, who made his international debut in 2007, played one Test, four one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games for Pakistan.
He played a match-saving knock of 88 in the Birmingham Test on Pakistan’s tour of England in August, before he was sent home after injuring his finger.
That tour was overshadowed by the newspaper allegations of a betting scam involving no-balls deliberately being bowled in the Lord’s Test in August.
The claims, published in the News of the World, led to the suspension of then-Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif by the ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The trio, together with Wahab Riaz — who was not suspended — were all interviewed by police in connection with the allegations, although they deny any wrong-doing.
The ICC suspended the trio and late last month rejected appeals from Salman and Aamer. Asif withdrew his appeal.
The ICC ordered Pakistan to curb corruption and discipline problems and on Sunday a task force said it was impressed by the steps taken by the Pakistani authorities.
But PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar expressed disappointment Tuesday over Haider’s behaviour and said the board would investigate whether Haider had breached its code of conduct.
"We briefed all the players about sharing information with the team management and there is a security manager travelling with the team," Sarwar told AFP.
"Its unfortunate that Haider has not made any contact with team management or with the PCB."