Lahore Qalandars owner slams PCB for ‘pathetic’ handling of Haris Rauf decision

Pakistan
Lahore Qalandars’ owner Sameen Rana has castigated the PCB for announcing its decision to tear up Haris Rauf‘s central contract just two days before the start of the PSL, tagging the board’s handling of the situation as “pathetic”. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Rana said he did not wish to get into whether the decision was correct but its timing severely disrupted his side’s PSL campaign, and the way the information was passed on to the player amounted to “really poor management”.

“The timing of that announcement was wholly unnecessary,” Rana told ESPNcricinfo. “There was no Pakistan series coming up, or any emergency situation that necessitated the announcement two days before the PSL. Whatever the logic was, the timing was really bad. It was a huge blow psychologically for him, because his whole life’s main aim is playing for Pakistan.

Qalandars were understood to be privately fuming at the time the decision was announced. Shaheen Afridi told ESPNcricinfo on the day of the decision that the PCB would “understand in time” that making the decision just before the PSL started was not correct. But while Qalandars held back from expressing public outrage at the time, now, Rana has not.

“Rauf’s our premier bowler, our highest wicket-taker after Shaheen Afridi. To publicly humiliate him and issue a press release announcing the termination of his central contract, I have never seen this happen anywhere,” Rana said. “I would never treat my employees like that.

“The employee at least has the right for you to call, email or message them. None of that happened with Rauf, and it was pathetic. It was really poor management.”

The decision came two months after Rauf made himself unavailable for Pakistan’s three Test series in Australia; at the time, chief selector Wahab Riaz had publicly criticised Rauf, saying he had gone back on his word. Wahab said Rauf’s decision would hurt Pakistan, and that his central contract mandated him to be available. Pakistan went on to lose the Australia series 3-0.

While disciplinary proceedings against Rauf were not made public, the PCB issued a statement on February 15 that Rauf’s responses in a personal hearing were unsatisfactory, and that the board was terminating his central contract. In addition, it would prevent him from playing any overseas T20 league till June 30 2024.

“To publicly humiliate him and issue a press release announcing the termination of his central contract, I have never seen this happen anywhere. I would never treat my employees like that. The employee at least has the right for you to call, email or message them. None of that happened with Rauf.”

Lahore Qalandars’ owner Sameen Rana

The development put title-defenders Qalandars “on the receiving end”, Rana said. Their 2024 campaign has gone from bad to worse as injury, unavailability, and indifferent performances have seen them rooted to the bottom of the table, winless in their first seven games.
Rauf, who was searching for form before the PSL, began poorly, but had his best day against Karachi Kings, taking 1 for 22 in four overs, but even that could not prevent Qalandars from slipping to a final-ball, two-wicket defeat; and Rauf injured himself in that close finish. He dislocated his shoulder while diving to take a catch off the penultimate delivery of the game, and the injury is expected to keep him out of action for about six weeks.

“I don’t know what the PCB was thinking; I was on the receiving end. Haris was our premier fast bowler. If someone treats you like that, you can’t pretend it doesn’t affect you,” Rana said. “Especially when it’s your country, something you’re emotional about anyway. And especially Haris, who is a naturally emotional person.

“It was an additional responsibility on me and the whole team to keep motivating him, and keeping him in the right frame of mind. He is a very strong boy, but again, a negative thought can creep into your brain. But unfortunately, after he seemed to be returning to form and performed brilliantly, he got injured. Of course we can’t control that.”

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