Two prominent Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials, Umar Farooq Kalson, the current media manager, and Adnan Ali, the board’s GM (International Cricket), have found themselves in the midst of a controversy. Recent pictures and video footage have emerged showing them visiting a Colombo casino. What makes this incident even more contentious is that they are in Colombo in their official capacity as part of the Pakistani contingent participating in the ongoing Asia Cup.
Visiting a gambling establishment, such as a casino, during a major cricket tournament is a clear violation of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption Code of Conduct. This revelation has raised concerns and questions among many cricket enthusiasts, particularly Pakistani fans who are dismayed by what they view as immature and careless behavior on the part of these PCB officials.
It’s worth noting that this is not the first time such an incident has occurred in Pakistani cricket. During the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Pakistan’s former captain and manager, Moin Khan, faced a similar controversy. He and his wife were seen at a casino in Christchurch before a match against West Indies. Despite his claims of innocence and stating that they were there for dinner, Moin Khan was recalled and subsequently sacked by PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan.
Shaharyar Khan justified his strong action by emphasizing the importance of adhering to both the board’s and ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code. These codes strictly prohibit officials and players from visiting places associated with gambling or having an increased risk of corruption.
Returning to the recent incident in Colombo, it’s essential to highlight that several PCB officials were in the city during the Asia Cup, either traveling back and forth between Colombo and Lahore or stationed there permanently. This was due to Pakistan’s role as the official host of the Asia Cup, and the PCB had a significant presence in the city.
Following the emergence of this news, many Pakistani news channels ran headlines about the incident. In response, the two officials involved tried to clarify their actions, stating that they had only visited the casino for dinner. However, this explanation was met with widespread ridicule on social media and criticism from former test players.
Notably, cricket writer Omair Alavi questioned the credibility of the officials’ claim, stating, “Who goes to a Casino to have food? Who goes to a gambling joint to have food? Who are they trying to fool?”
A PCB source expressed concerns over the two officials’ actions, highlighting that they should not have visited a casino where gambling activities were taking place. The source suggested that strict disciplinary action could be taken against them upon their return.
Former Test opener Mohsin Khan also voiced his surprise and disappointment regarding the behavior of the two PCB officials during the tournament. Such actions, especially by those in official capacities, reflect poorly on Pakistan’s cricket image.
The PCB’s Cricket Management Committee faces a difficult decision in light of this incident. Despite the clarification offered by the two officials, the Committee may find it challenging to overlook such a blatant violation of the Anti-Corruption Code.
In the past, senior PCB officials and players have been reminded of the importance of adhering to these codes. One senior official reportedly received a stern warning from Jay Shah during a meeting in Pallekele. The Chairman of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and BCCI supremo reacted strongly to some comments made by the PCB official during the meeting.
As this story unfolds, it is evident that the actions of Umar Farooq Kalson and Adnan Ali in visiting the Colombo casino during the Asia Cup have drawn significant scrutiny and raised serious concerns about their behavior as PCB officials. The cricket community, especially in Pakistan, awaits the outcome of the PCB’s response to this incident and whether disciplinary measures will be taken to address this breach of the Anti-Corruption Code.