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Latif asked to focus on game
- Banned wicketkeeper not even invited to PCB’s celebrations in Rawalpindi

Mumbai: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has verbally “advised” regular captain Rashid Latif, currently serving a five-match ban, to concentrate on cricket only.

Though PCB chief executive Rameez Raja, who is in the city for an International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting, declined to reveal anything, well-placed sources in Pakistan confirmed that the advisory was issued earlier this week.

It came about when Latif indicated he would move a Karachi court against Match Referee Mike Procter’s decision to penalise him for wrongly claiming a catch during the Multan Test versus Bangladesh.

Latif had 24 hours to appeal (to the ICC) against Procter’s verdict but, intriguingly, declined to do so. A week later, however, he let it be known he would take the Match Referee to court.

According to sources who spoke to The Telegraph, Latif even wrote to the ICC (yet again , one may add) that he ought not to have been booked for a Level 3 breach of the Code of Conduct. Apparently, the ICC reverted rather strongly and reminded Latif that reopening the issue could invite further penalties.

While Latif is respected for his role in ‘identifying’ match-fixing teammates, he continues to be regarded as a “loose cannon”. And, it’s because he wanted to get ‘even’ with Bangladesh (on whose complaint Procter acted), that he wasn’t invited for the PCB’s celebrations in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

“Look, an invitation was made out for Latif and his wife, but it wasn’t sent as he may have created a scene with the Bangladeshis... After all, the visiting side was also invited ... Moreover, the Media would surely have raised uncomfortable questions. Given what could have happened, everyone thought it best he wasn’t there at all,” the sources explained.

Incidentally, PCB patron General Pervez Musharraf was himself present and, so, Latif can ill afford to ignore the ‘message’ being sent out. The million-Rupee question, of course, is: Will he return as captain versus South Africa'

Actually, nobody is quite sure. For the record, all that Rameez said was: “We haven’t taken a decision...” Latif’s backers may argue that his appointment is till the end of the 2003-2004 season but, in Pakistan, such long-term decisions don’t mean much.

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