Lahore, Nov 21: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) seems to be keen to learn from the spot-fixing scandal and root out corruption from its cricket system as the national selectors chose to ignore pace bowler Wahab Riaz and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal for the tour to Bangladesh.
Though there was no official word on why Wahab Riaz, in particular, was not included in the squad but a board official said on condition of anonymity that it was obvious.
"We don't need to say anything. Everyone is aware that in given circumstances and after the spot-fixing trial, the board does not want to take any risks with players whose names have been linked in any way to corruption during the spot-fixing trial," the official said.
The omission of Wahab was hard to explain for the chief selector Mohammad Illyas although he said at the press conference, called to announce the teams for the upcoming tour, which the players had been picked after consensus between the selectors and the team management presently in Abu Dhabi.
"This is the best possible team we could have selected after consultations with the team management," Illyas said.
But he failed to explain as to how a bowler who took five wickets in the 2011 World Cup semifinal and who has been Pakistan's leading strike bowler in Tests and ODIs this year, has been omitted despite performing well.
Wahab, a left-arm pacer, in his last Quaid-e-Azam trophy match took six wickets in an innings at the national stadium in Karachi to power National bank to a win and has been in prime form this season.
Until August this year, the selection committee then headed by Mohsin Khan, who is now interim coach, was describing Wahab and Umar Gul as the main strike bowlers.
Wahab and Gul were rested by the selectors for the tour to Zimbabwe on the grounds that with a hectic international season coming up the selectors wanted them to be fresh and fit for the bigger series that included the ongoing one against Sri Lanka in UAE.
Strangely Wahab was picked in the Test squad for the matches against Sri Lanka but sent back home without playing a match and was then also dropped from the one-day series.
It is no coincidence that the selectors decided to sideline him for the ODI series against Sri Lanka just when the spot-fixing trial came to an end in London with Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer handed jail sentences.
What was more significant about the trial is that the names of Wahab and Kamran were mentioned during the hearing as among those players whom agent/bookmaker, Mazhar Majeed claimed he had working for in the spot-fixing nexus.
Both Wahab and Kamran denied the allegations but insiders said they are worried about future investigations by the anti-corruption unit of the ICC and the PCB itself.
PCB chief Zaka Ashraf told reporters after returning from Dubai on Monday that he would soon push the government to table a bill making corruption in sports, including cricket, a criminal offence punishable by jail terms.
"We will be asking the government to make corruption in any form in sports a criminal offence under the law because we are not willing to tolerate any sort of corruption by anyone in cricket," Ashraf said.
Kamran, who is also doing well in domestic cricket having scored two half centuries in the present round match of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy is justified to an extent in complaining that the ICC investigated him early this year as did the PCB and they cleared him to play the World Cup.
"He has a point but the recent development is based on fresh evidence submitted or given at the spot-fixing trial that is why the neither the PCB nor the ICC is keen to allow Wahab and Kamran to play international cricket until any suspicions about them are removed," a board official said.
Meanwhile, Illyas said Pakistan would not take Bangladesh lightly.
"We would be fools to take Bangladesh lightly. They are a tough side in their own backyard and we need to win against them. We need to continue winning momentum, so no major changes have been made in the Test or ODI teams."