CHENNAI: It was only last month at the Asia Cup that Hong Kong’s progress as a cricket-playing team drew international attention. Chasing India’s 285/7, they were in it for much longer than expected, courtesy a big stand for the opening wicket. They eventually lost by 26 runs.
On Monday, Hong Kong cricket made bigger headlines for all the wrong reasons. Three of their players — Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, Haseeb Amjad — were suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on fixing-related charges. They were charged for violating multiple clauses of the ICC Code of Conduct and will remain suspended until completion of the inquiry.
Curiously enough, Irfan and Nadeem have been accused of flouting anti-corruption norms during the 2016 World T20 championship held in India. An ICC statement said they had violated “Article 2.1.3 of the Code by “seeking, accepting, offering or agreeing to accept a bribe or other reward to fix or contrive or otherwise improperly influence the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of one or more of the 2016 ICC World T20 matches.” Hong Kong were one of the eight qualified teams competing for two Super 10 slots. They played three matches in Nagpur and crashed out after losing all three.
Of the three players named on Monday, Nadeem was part of the recent Asia Cup squad. The 31-year-old left-arm spinner born in Pakistan’s Bahwalpur bowled 10 overs for 39 runs without taking a wicket against India. He is the most experienced of the three, having taken part in 25 ODIs. Irfan and Haseeb were also born Pakistan and played six and seven ODIs, respectively. Irfan had earlier been suspended by ICC in April, 2016, for a breach of the ICC Code of Conduct.
Although there had been incidents of corruption and suspension in T20 leagues across the world in the last few years, the latest incident is the first one in some time where players from an international team have been suspended.
“The ICC has charged three Hong Kong players with 19 counts of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code. The players have been provisionally suspended with immediate effect pending determination of these charges. They have 14 days from October 8, 2018, to respond to the charges. The ICC will not make any further comment in respect of these charges at this stage,” added the official statement.
The ICC said that there are nine charges against Irfan and five each against Nadeem and Haseeb. They have been reported for various acts of misconduct in matches pitting Hong Kong against other Associate Member teams. Other than World T20, their behaviour in qualifying matches for the tournament is also under the scanner.