Former Indian cricketer sides with Hafeez after Sharjeel jibe

Chopra believes Hafeez's opinion should be respected as he has asked a valid question

Former Indian cricketer sides with Hafeez after Sharjeel jibe PHOTO: AFP

Former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra has sided with veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez on the recent debate surrounding opener Sharjeel Khan’s potential comeback in the national side.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)'s Chief Executive Wasim Khan had warned Hafeez to refrain from commenting on selection matters, after the latter indicated towards Sharjeel’s tainted past in a tweet, and questioned whether it should be overlooked because of his skill set.

While speaking in a YouTube video, the former cricketer believes Hafeez's opinion should be respected as he has asked a valid question.

‘‘Let Hafeez speak as he is making a good point. These days, people don’t speak out on this topic, which is an issue,’’ Chopra said. ‘‘He is actually talking sense and asked a very simple question that what is more important, dignity or special talent? In my opinion, you can let go one or two talents, but if you let go dignity, then nothing will be left.’’

‘‘Tainted cricketers should not be welcomed back. Life gives you second chances, but give them a second chance somewhere else and not in this sport. You should set a strong example or else others will also get involved in fixing seeing that tainted players were able to comeback after serving their punishment,’’ he added.

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The 42-year-old added that he understands the veteran all-rounder’s frustration considering his zero tolerance policy against corrupt cricketers.

‘’I have spent time with Hafeez when he was part of Kolkata Knight Riders in first season of Indian Premier League. He has zero tolerance policy against those who have been involved in match or spot fixing,’’ he said. ‘‘All he said was that isn’t honesty with the country more important than talent, which I completely agree with. You feel disheartened, disappointed and frustrated when you find out that your teammates were fixing matches.’’

Earlier in 2015, when left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir was invited to the national team’s training camp after serving his five-year ban, Hafeez had said that he "can't share the dressing room with someone who hurt my country's integrity".

However, the veteran all-rounder was later convinced by then PCB chairman Shehryar Khan to take part in the camp, after his grievances were addressed.