Clear me or tour is over: Inzamam
by AFP

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 22nd August 2006


Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq issued a stark warning to cricket chiefs on Tuesday: Clear me of ball tampering or the tour of England is finished.


The star batsman faces an International Cricket Council (ICC) disciplinary hearing in London on Friday for his part in the events that saw Pakistan forfeit the fourth Test against England at The Oval on Sunday - the first time this had happened in the 129-year-history of Test cricket - after they'd been found guilty of ball-tampering.


Inzamam's threat could now see next week's Twenty20 international and ensuing five-match one-day series against England abandoned, with the cost to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) estimated at 10 million pounds (19 million dollars).


Pakistan's refusal to take to the field after tea saw England awarded a victory that gave them a 3-0 win in the four-match series.


And the Pakistan skipper insists that cricket chiefs should now rule the farcical Test null and void.


"Pakistan was in a winning position but England was declared winner. So our disappointment is very natural," Inzamam wrote in his column in Monday's Daily Jang, Pakistan's biggest-circulation Urdu language newspaper.


"Now our effort is to change the result of the match. Pakistan will request the ICC that instead of awarding it to England it should be declared a no-result match," he said.


The skipper faces charges of ball-tampering as well as bringing the game into disrepute.


If found guilty of the disrepute charge, Inzamam could be banned for the entire one-day series.


But it is the ostensibly lesser charge of ball-tampering, carrying with it the stigma of cheating, that threatens to derail the tour.


"We will wait for the decision and then make up our minds but it would be difficult for the players to play on if we are labelled cheats," Inzamam told Britain's Daily Express newspaper.


Inzamam apologised to spectators deprived of more than a day's cricket at The Oval but said: "The issue of being labelled cheats, though, was too important to let lie."


Australian umpire Darrell Hair, standing with West Indies' Billy Doctrove, angered Pakistan when, at the end of the 56th over of England's second innings, he signalled the award of five penalty runs to the hosts.


So far the controversy has been viewed primarily as a dispute between Pakistan and Hair, the senior on-field umpire.


But England were dragged into the row on Tuesday when it emerged that coach Duncan Fletcher went to match referee Mike Procter's room before the start of the fourth day.


The ECB confirmed Fletcher went to see Procter but denied that a complaint was lodged over the condition of the ball.


It said Procter was not there and nothing was discussed, although the third and fourth umpires were present.


England say they were concerned about the prospect of resuming their second innings in poor light, having been greeted by thick grey clouds upon their arrival at the ground.


"Duncan Fletcher visited the match referee's room before play (on Sunday), a practice that is not unusual during an international match," said an ECB spokesman.


"Because there is an ICC investigation ongoing we are unable to elaborate any further but we can confirm that no complaint about the match ball was registered.


"There were no complaints lodged about anything at all."


The fourth day action got under way 15 minutes late due to a morning shower and by lunch the dark overhead conditions had given way to a sunny spell.


Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan said that for his side, who'd worked hard to overcome the fallout from previous ball-tampering accusations, the current situation was "a slur on the reputation of the Pakistan team and a slur on Pakistan itself".


Both Shaharyar and Inzamam called on the ICC to prevent the 53-year-old Hair, a veteran of 76 Tests, from ever standing in one of their matches again.


Inzamam added: "Since I took over as Pakistan captain three years ago there have been no issues with ball tampering - except when Darrell Hair has been umpiring."


He said he had had no warning of Sunday's controversial decision.


Pakistan, who were in a strong position to win the match, twice missed a chance to take the field after tea when the umpires came out, a move that cost them plenty of sympathy from neutrals.


"We didn't want to play on under the cloud of being called cheats," Inzamam said. "I asked the boys if they had done anything wrong and they all said no."


And Inzamam was adamant that at no stage while they were conducting their protests did anyone tell Pakistan they risked losing the match.


Shaharyar insisted Pakistan were not "dictating to the ICC" over who could stand in their games, but he called for an independent inquiry into both the forfeit and Pakistan's alleged ball-tampering, having slammed the umpires for their "intransigence" and saying Hair had "trained his guns" on the team.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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