Imran Khan: Sammy not a ‘big player’

KARACHI, Pakistan (AFP) — Pakistan cricket legend Imran Khan angered fans Tuesday after a leaked video emerged of him describing international stars who agreed to play in the country despite security threats as “third-class” and anonymous.

The remarks by the 64-year-old who now leads a major political party were captured by a local journalist on a mobile phone and uploaded online, where it sparked a furious backlash including from many of his own supporters.

Khan, a vocal critic of the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had opposed staging Sunday’s final of the Pakistan Super League in Lahore instead of the UAE where earlier matches were played, citing security grounds.

He later appeared to soften his position, using Twitter to congratulate the public on their participation and enthusiasm in a match widely hailed by observers for unifying the country, which has not hosted a major national team since 2009 when Islamist gunmen attacked a touring Sri Lanka side.

But speaking to party aides on Tuesday, he criticised the tournament and poked fun at the nine foreign players who agreed to play despite a recent resurgence in violence.

“I didn’t even know the names of the ‘phateechar’ players,” he said, using a derogatory term that roughly translates as “third-class”, while others around him laughed.

“I think they grabbed some people from Africa and others from elsewhere to claim that they were foreign players,” he added.

The video went viral online where many rushed to defend the foreign stars, particularly two-time World T20 winner Darren Sammy of the West Indies, who led Peshawar Zalmi to victory and whose dancing celebrations and effusive praise of Pakistan had made him a major hit with fans.

“These #Phateechar players have put in more effort in restoring the international cricket than the so called selfless leader,” wrote Twitter user Rabiya Naveed.

Another user, @Dr_sheffield123, wrote “I am ur diehard fan but u made me upset like millions & am thinking whthr u r in ur senses or have lost ur mind?”

Some suggested Khan was motivated by petty jealousy because the government which he opposes had taken credit for the success of the match.

He later appeared on the local TV network Geo News, doubling down on his position.

“Sammy was captain but he is not a big player,” he said.

“Had Chris Gayle come, had Kevin Pietersen come, I would have said they were big international stars.”

Gayle featured for Karachi Kings in the matches held in Dubai and Sharjah but his team failed to qualify for the final.

Pietersen withdrew from the final over security fears along with other Quetta players Rilee Rossouw from South Africa, Luke Wright and Tymal Mills, who are both from England.

The row also reached parliament with defence minister Khawaja Asif condemning Khan on a point of order.

“I can’t even repeat those derogatory remarks because they are so insulting to the players,” he said.


  1. Anonymous
    March 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Imran is a jealous and racist snob. Sammy’s legacy may just eclipse yours.

    1. Anonymous
      March 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      No it won’t. He might be racist but Khan is miles better than Sammy. Sammy is a good player with heart and he has made as all proud but he is not a big game player. He fluked on his debut. Has hardly had any meaningful performances since. While support for our own is great but let’s critique when necessary. This is the kind of mindset that leads to racism and xenophobia.

  2. Anonymous
    March 8, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Sounds like that

  3. trent
    March 8, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    He threw in Africa for purely racist reasons. What an idiot!

  4. Sammy all the way...758
    March 8, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Imran Khan is more than a jack ass. Sammy u need to give him to ticket to ur island st Lucia. Let him see the africian boy in u. He is a big ass racist. Jealousy is a crime.

  5. Anonymous
    March 8, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    That idiot can say what he likes the fact of the matter is the little black boy fron the small island is making us proud and we love it,Sammy is a champion and champion he will always be on Like you am so sorry with all your big name you made nobody proud stick that in your pipe and smoke it Darren Sammy a true champion

  6. Anonymous
    March 8, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    He rated Gayle, but Gayle’s team did not qualify, and Gayle himself was not a big hit in the preliminary matches. He has a lot of big island style, but he is very inconsistent.

  7. Anonymous
    March 8, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Khan maybe out of the slums but his head is still there. Pride before THE FALL

  8. Anonymous
    March 8, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Imran is just jealous of Sammy plain and simple. We still love our small island black boy

  9. Anonymous
    March 8, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Small island boy lead them to victory…..u r still our hero don’t mind them Sammy….

  10. 1008 #DSammyisachampion
    March 8, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Someone’s trying to get 3 minutes of fame by riding the ‘Sammy hate train’. Did he buy his boarding pass from Brown.

  11. Sharon Terrell
    March 8, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    JEALOUSY is a bitch, simmer down IMRAN KARN PADRE.You going to far someone you feel that your Government disrespect you so now you disrespect Sammy and the Players.You never know what a man have in his heart.But it will come to light yeah his hateful racist heart,that venom.IMRAN KARN you a truly an imposter,very dangerous.I hope the people see through you.

  12. Anonymous
    March 8, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Khan is a politician isn’t that expected. Now he is getting the attention . Wow.

  13. viewer
    March 9, 2017 at 9:30 am

    The irony of this man makes him an asinine individual in which he contradicts his own self… Saying if was Chris Gayle he would be happy but Sammy is not a big player…but yet Sammy leader his team to victory and Chris Gayle failed to do the same,ludicrous. I think that should encourage Sammy to player even harder and rub the victory in khan’s face…nonsense. St.Lucian player never gets credit,but other players from prominent countries always gets merit;despite their futile efforts. Its an team effort not just one player being demerited for being captain.

    1. Anonymous
      March 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      My sentiments exactly. But let us not let that jackass put the cat among the pigeons and divide us via Gayle versus Sammy. We are all West Indians and share the same common history in cricket. Gayle has his ups and his downs, and so does Sammy. Gayle is pompous but Sammy is humble. Gayle is lethargic but Sammy is like a traffic officer on the field of play. In the final analysis, and like the Grand Ole Duke of Yore, when they are up they are up and when they are down they are down. But they are both Black West Indians. So let us not allow the “wanna be” politician to divide us. Irie?

  14. Gillian Polius
    March 9, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Tell Khan get a Life!!! Who care what he thinks!!! Seem he is doesn’t even know what a Star is!!!

  15. Nathaniel Samuels
    March 10, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Imran is right. Sammy is not a big player in the scheme of cricket things. Imran was a great player no matter what he says about Sammy who is a likable and hard working cricketer but facts are facts. Pity that Imran needed to make a petty statement re Sammy.

    1. Anonymous
      March 11, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      I do not know the definition of “big player”. The fact is and will remain that Sammy is a champion captain.
      Can you disprove that?

  16. Stephen Evans
    March 10, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    One thing for sure that they can’t wipe out is that Sammy’s name is among the great captains of world cricket like Clive Lloyd winning two world cups and putting back the smile on all west Indian face. That will always remain and it doesn’t matter who they talk about and who they like history is written with Darren Sammy captain of the west indies from St Lucia. We love you Darren Sammy

  17. Matilda Swope
    March 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Praying for you Darren, your success will bring jealousy, keep trusting God he has your back. As for that imposter of a politician, he is looking for exposure by destroying others, he is going down a wrong path. Keep you head up Darren.

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