Dr Sohail Saleem, Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) former head of Medical and Sports Sciences, has said he was forced to resign and made a scapegoat after the tournament was postponed when a few players and match officials contracted coronavirus.
In an interview with Jang, the veteran doctor, who designed the bio-secure bubble for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021 edition, said PCB CEO Waseem Khan asked him to resign after a few players and match officials tested positive for the virus and the tournament was subsequently postponed.
On March 4, the PCB announced it was postponing the tournament after seven coronavirus cases were reported among players and match officials who were part of the bio-secure bubble. The development invited questions and led to criticism of the PCB’s handling of the entire affair.
“Without a second’s hesitation, I tendered my resignation. However, in my personal opinion, I was made a scapegoat for the mismanagement that took place to save others who were responsible [for the debacle],” claimed Dr Saleem.
Dr Saleem said he also had a lot to tell but he would not like to disclose them, in the larger “national interest”.
The physiotherapist questioned whether the PCB ever trained him to deal with the coronavirus situation. He also pointed out that the board has still not shared with him the two-member fact-finding committee’s report on the PSL controversy.
“At least I should have been told what my negligence was,” he said. The doctor, however, added he was not ashamed that he had parted ways with the PCB.
Dr Saleem said he was an integral part in the team that organised two international series involving Pakistan and had also successfully ensured that two domestic seasons were played during the pandemic.
“I worked day and night for 365 days and this is the treatment I received,” he said disappointingly.
The PCB had revealed in April that it had accepted Dr Saleem’s resignation, which he had tendered in March after the tournament was postponed.
The cricket board formed a two-member fact-finding committee which presented its suggestions and recommendations to the chairman. However, the report was never made public and no action has been taken on it as well.
Dr Saleem said he was hurt at the treatment meted out to him, adding that he could have chosen to work abroad but he decided to forego that option and work for his country.
PSL 2021 postponed due to COVID-19
The sixth edition of PSL was postponed earlier this week due to rising COVID-19 cases among the players and officials involved in the tournament.
“Following a meeting with the team owners and considering the health and wellbeing of all participants is paramount, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to postpone the Pakistan Super League 6 with immediate effect,” read the PCB statement.
It said that the decision was made after seven cases were reported in the competition, which had started on February 20.
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan held a media conference at the National Stadium to discuss the tournament’s postponement.
He said that they had to put PSL on hold as they were not “effectively” able to enforce the standard operating procedures required for a bio secure bubble.