|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 24th August 2006
Senior cricket officials from England and Pakistan met at a west London hotel on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming one-day clash between their two nations after the climax of their Test series was cut short by last weekend's ball-tampering row.
Pakistan had threatened to boycott the five-match one-day series if captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was banned as a result of charges of ball-tampering and bringing cricket into disrepute following their forfeiture of the fourth Test against England at The Oval.
A disciplinary hearing was due to take place Friday in London but was postponed Wednesday because of the unavailabity of International Cricket Council (ICC) chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle, who had been due to hear the case.
In a statement ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the fact that the one-dayers were taking place from August 30 to September 10 meant it would be "extremely difficult" for a hearing to take place during that period.
When asked if the one-dayers would go ahead as planned, Pakistan tour manager Zaheer Abbas told AFP in London by telephone. "We will play. There will be no problem."
But it then emerged that doubts still remained about whether his side would take part with the case against Inzamam unresolved.
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman David Morgan met with Pakistan counterpart Shaharyar Khan and Inzamam for more than 30 minutes.
Morgan refused to explain what had been discussed, saying only: "I am always available to my counterparts with the Pakistan board, and that was the case today (Wednesday)," before adding he was in no position to comment further.
The one-day series, which is preceded by a Twenty20 match at Bristol on Monday, has been in jeopardy ever since Pakistan threatened a withdrawal if Inzamam received a lengthy ban for his part in the team's refusal to come back on the field on Sunday in protest at the award of five penalty runs to England by on-field umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove because of ball-tampering.
It is estimated that the cost of a cancelled one-day series to the ECB would be 10 million pounds.
Speed said the sole reason for the postponement was Madugalle's unavailability.
"The difficulty relates to the availability of Ranjan Madugalle to chair the hearing as he is dealing with a private and personal matter that requires his urgent attention.
"Pakistan and England, as the host country, have both expressed a preference for Ranjan to hear the case and on that basis we have agreed to the postponement.
"We have looked at potential alternatives but, as the ICC's chief referee and a person with immense credibility within the game, Ranjan is the most appropriate person to adjudicate in this matter," the Australian added.
"We are yet to decide upon a new date but the intense nature of the upcoming one-day international series between England and Pakistan is likely to make it extremely difficult to fit in a hearing during that period.
"I should stress that the reason for the postponement is related solely to Ranjan's availability. We would ask that his privacy is respected at this time," Speed said.
Details of the new date and the venue for the hearing will be announced in due course.
Pakistan's forfeit was the first in the 129-year history of Test cricket and saw England secure a victory that gave them the four-match series 3-0.
Pakistan asked the ICC to bar Hair, who has been repeatedly accused of being biased against teams from the subcontinent, from officiating in any more of their matches.
But, in an earlier statement, Speed stressed that it was the responsibilty of ICC, and not individual countries, to select match officials "without fear or favour."
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)
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