Pak players told to avoid religious display

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan's cricketers have been told to avoid exhibiting their religious beliefs in public.

Dr Nasim Ashraf, Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said in response to concerns the team was being used by religious elements, that the players had been advised to strike a balance between religion and cricket.

Since last year, the Pakistan team has made it a point to pray in public and hold religious gatherings in team hotels.

Ashraf said in a television interview he did not believe there was any connection between Maulvism, ultra orthodox Muslims, and cricket.

''There is no doubt their religious faith is a motivating factor in the team. It binds them together. But there should be balance between religion and cricket,'' Ashraf said.

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, batsman Mohammad Yousuf, who converted to Islam from christianity earlier this year and former leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed have been in the forefront of projecting a religious image of the team.

Ashraf said he had no problems with the players saying their prayers regularly but he had told Inzamam that Islam does not allow the imposition of views on others.

''I have told him clearly that there should be no pressure on players who don't pray regularly or any compulsion on them to do it under pressure,'' he said.

''I have told him there should be no perception among players that if they don't pray they will not be in the team.'' ''He has assured me there is no pressure on anyone to do anything they don't want to do. I have also told him players should get proper rest for their cricket,'' Ashraf added.


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