Newly appointed Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Shaharyar Khan today criticised Ahmed Shehzad for offering religious advice to Sri Lankan player Tillakaratne Dilshan during an ODI last week, saying it was a “stupid statement” on part of the Pakistani batsman.
“It was a stupid statement really. He has no business to talk about religion on the field, especially when you are on a foreign tour,” Shaharyar told PTI over the phone today.
“It is mentioned on the players’ contract that you are not supposed to talk about religion on the field. Having said that, it was not said in an aggressive tone. It was a friendly advice but it was surely silly,” he said.
The PCB has already put the matter before its disciplinary committee and Shaharyar said the matter will be dealt with appropriately.
“The Sri Lankan cricket board has chosen not to file a complaint about the incident and I think it is the right decision.
“Our disciplinary committee will ensure such unwanted incidents don’t occur on the field again,” said the 80-year-old diplomat, who was elected PCB chairman for the second time last month.
Shehzad was heard advising Dilshan as the two were walking back to the dressing room after the third ODI in Dambulla. The Pakistani batsman was caught on camera telling Dilshan “if you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, (you will go) straight to heaven.”
The senior Sri Lanka player’s reply was not audible, following which Shehzad said “then be ready for the fire”. The video expectedly has gone viral on the internet.
Overt displays of faith have been part of Pakistan cricket, not of late though. Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and another great Saeed Anwar were part of Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic religious movement.
Sri Lanka however has played down the incident with Dilshan himself ruling out lodging a complaint against Shehzad.
“I don’t remember even what I said to him. I have no issues at all. I was just happy with the win,” Dilshan said earlier in the week, who was born to a Muslim father and Buddhist mother. His birth name was Tuwan Mohammad Dilshan but he changed it to a Buddhist name.