KARACHI - Pakistan cricket was hit by further controversy on Wednesday when former national team captain Rashid Latif changed his mind about becoming the chief selector despite having accepted the post last month. "I don't want to get into controversies and I don't think this is the right time for me to accept this position," Latif said.
Last month the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) issued a press release announcing that Latif would take over as chief selector from April 1. "I had got a contract from the board to sign it but I have declined and returned it to the board," the 45-year-old Latif said without giving any specific reasons.
"I refuse PCB officially," he said, in a statement issued to the media. "No hard feelings for both parties. I don't want to get into controversy and I hope Pakistan cricket will flourish under the chairman and board. I will not make any further statement. There has been too much (speculation) in the media and I would like to break my silence and announce that I will not join PCB as chief selector."
However, sources close to the former wicketkeeper-batsman said he decided to step away because of differences with the board over the selection of the other members of the national selection committee and matters of authority. "Rashid wanted former Test batsman M Yousuf as a selector but the board was reluctant to appoint him as he has been very critical of the PCB in recent times," one source said.
Latif confirmed he had recommended the names of former Test batsman M Yousuf, former opener Wajahatullah Wasti and former Test pacer Shabbir Ahmed, but declined to comment on reports that the board instead wanted him to work with former selectors -- Azhar Khan and Saleem Jaffer. Rashid has also been unhappy about the way the board reacted to the Pakistan team's performance at this year's World T20 tournament where they were knocked out before the semi-finals. The former captain told the state-owned PTV sports channel it was not right for the board to allow M Hafeez to step down as T20 captain because the entire team had performed badly.
Latif has remained an enigmatic figure in Pakistan cricket and been at odds with the establishment since he played a crusader role in exposing the match-fixing scandal in Pakistan cricket in the 1990s. Latif, who played 37 Tests and 166 one-dayers for Pakistan from 1992-2003, has been a prominent voice against the menace of match-fixing in the country. As well as the chief selector job, the PCB had also offered him a role in dealing with anti-corruption issues. Pakistan cricket has functioned without a chief selector since last September when the Islamabad High Court put aside a decision by the board to appoint former captain Moin Khan.
He last played in 2003 and since then has focused on running his cricket academy in Karachi. He is currently working as a government graded officer - as sports head of Port Qasim Authority, which also runs a first-class team. According to the PCB, Latif had to join them on deputation from his parent department. Having refused the PCB's offer, Latif will countinue working with PQA.