Nasir Jamshed found the evidence of corruption against him so “flimsy” that he laughed out loud when he read about it. The former Pakistan batsman was arrested in the UK in February in connection with an investigation into corruption in the 2017 Pakistan Super League. Through its own investigations, the PCB insists Jamshed is a central figure.
Four months later, the only charge the board has laid against him is for obstruction and non-cooperation in the investigations. But the PCB has indicated that further, more serious charges can be laid against him, and is waiting for the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) – which arrested Jamshed – to share more evidence with it.
And Jamshed is the subject of two concurrent hearings in front of a tribunal constituted by the PCB in Lahore; the main one, in front of a three-man tribunal looking into the obstruction charges and the second, in front of a one-man disciplinary panel, is one Jamshed initiated arguing for his provisional suspension to be lifted.
In the meantime, details of a key element of the board’s evidence against him have been leaked, but are, Jamshed insists, so “ridiculous” that he was “amused” when he read them in the media. Eight WhatsApp voice notes, allegedly exchanged between Jamshed and Khalid Latif – another Pakistan batsman facing charges of corruption – first found their way into the media and have now been uploaded to a standalone website. The exchanges, in Urdu, are ostensibly about one or more bat deals; the PCB’s argument is that they are code for corrupt deals.
“They claim they have WhatsApp voice messages that show me talking about spot-fixing in code,” Jamshed told ESPNcricinfo in his first interview since his arrest. “But what they actually have is WhatsApp voice messages that show me talking about selling bats. There’s no code involved at all.
“I’ve had an arrangement for years whereby I would sell a few CA bats and take a 10% commission. It’s no secret; I’m allowed to do it. I laughed out loud when I saw details of their evidence against me. I was amused. It’s so flimsy. It’s ridiculous.
We have every confidence in the National Crime Agency. But we have very little confidence in the PCB NASIR JAMSHED
“The guy they say is a bookie… works in a Honda showroom as far as I know … We spoke about him buying some bats from me, but in the end he didn’t.
“If that is as good as they have, they should dismiss the case now. They have no evidence of any financial gain and, after all this time, they have not even charged me with spot-fixing or trying to fix a game. They have no real evidence against me.”
Those messages, however, are not the only evidence the PCB claims to have against Jamshed. The board says there are witness statements from several players that appear to implicate him. There is also the potential NCA information, which the PCB believes could have a bearing not only on the ongoing hearings against Sharjeel Khan and Latif, but also Jamshed.
In fact, the board feels it has enough to continue with proceedings against Jamshed even if he is cleared by the NCA – the PCB’s anti-corruption code being different to the UK criminal code. It has maintained since it laid charges against Jamshed, that it retains the right to level further corruption charges, and that had the board been able to meet him, it would already have done so.
“The original corruption investigation is still pending and we have retained our right to bring additional corruption charges at any time we deem fit,” a PCB official told ESPNcricinfo.
Jamshed lives with his British-born wife – who during these interviews often acted as his interpreter – in Birmingham, where he too is waiting for the outcome of the NCA investigation. It is expected to conclude in June, with Jamshed either cleared or informed that he will be prosecuted.
“We have every confidence in the National Crime Agency,” Jamshed said. “But we have very little confidence in the PCB.
“How can we trust them? They have leaked information to the media, they have made up stories about me moving house to avoid the authorities – I’ve been here in Birmingham since January – and the tribunal they have formed to hear my case is made up of former PCB employees. How can that be independent?”
The PCB’s anti-corruption code calls for a tribunal to be independent of the board. In this case, it is made up of a former chairman (Tauqir Zia), a former legal advisor (Asghar Haider) and a former employee (Wasim Bari, a former Pakistan captain who has served in a number of different board roles, including as manager of the side as recently as January 2017). None of them are currently working for the PCB, however. Latif has also challenged the constitution of the tribunal, albeit unsuccessfully so far.
“I expect the NCA to clear me,” Jamshed said. “But my worry is that I could be cleared by the NCA and found guilty by the PCB. That would still prevent me from playing cricket again. I’ve asked FICA (the international players’ union) for help, but as Pakistan are not affiliated to them, there is not much they can do.”
Jamshed is particularly upset by comments made by PCB chairman, Shaharyar Khan, and lawyers working for the board who say he is refusing to return to Pakistan to face charges.
“He said I had changed my address and phone number in an attempt not to have any contact with them,” Jamshed said. “But I’ve been here since January. My passport and phone have both been taken off me so I can’t travel. They know that yet they continue to say I’m refusing to return to Pakistan.
“The only reason I have been reluctant to meet the PCB in the UK – and yes, they did suggest a London meeting – until now is that I’m not prepared to settle.”
It is this refusal to sit down with PCB investigators, who travelled to the UK in April in the hopes of meeting him, that has led to the charges of non-cooperation and obstruction.
They are so keen to show the world they have cleaned up all the corruption in Pakistan cricket they are looking for a quick resolution to this case. All I can think is that I am seen as expendable NASIR JAMSHED
Jamshed’s explanation of the WhatsApp messages is backed up by a couple of other sources. Jamie Boyle, the captain at Old Elizabethans CC, where Jamshed played in 2016, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that several members of the club had bought CA bats from him.
“Yes, Nasir was selling bats when he was with us,” Boyle said. “There was never any secret in that. I think about four of our team ended up buying one from him.”
Naeem Anjum, a first-class cricketer in Pakistan who plays club cricket in England and runs a sports shop, also confirmed he was the one providing bats for Jamshed.
“It’s completely legal,” Anjum said. “I obtain a no-objection certificate from the makers and then send bats out depending on the demand. The last time I had an order from Nasir was just before the PSL.”
Jamshed alleges that other players have been “coerced” into naming him to save their own careers and that he has been used as a scapegoat by a board keen to be seen as tough on corruption.
“The PCB knew I was looking at a future in England,” he said. “I was hoping to play county cricket here. I would still like to after all this has been resolved.
“They are so keen to show the world they have cleaned up all the corruption in Pakistan cricket they are looking for a quick resolution to this case. All I can think is that I am seen as expendable.
“But some of those other players, such as Khalid Latif, have already raised their concerns about the PCB’s investigation. I’m confident the NCA will clear me and, when they have, I hope the PCB will drop this case.”
Jamshed’s main tribunal hearing in which the charges against him will be heard has not begun in earnest; it was due to on May 26, but has been delayed and will resume on June 30.
George Dobell is a senior corresponded at ESPNcricinfo. Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
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