ICC ball-tampering hearing hurt world cricket, says Benaud
by AFP

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Player:R Benaud, Inzamam-ul-Haq
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 2nd October 2006


Richie Benaud says last week's International Cricket Council (ICC) hearing into ball tampering arising from last month's forfeited fourth Test between England and Pakistan has hurt world cricket.


The respected former Australian captain and cricket commentator said the ICC hearing was "crass and unbecoming" and he criticised Pakistan's decision to refuse to re-enter the field instead of accepting the umpire's ruling at The Oval.


Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was cleared of ball-tampering but found guilty by the ICC of bringing the game into disrepute over his side's refusal to play.


Inzamam was banned for four one-day internationals, which effectively rules him out of next month's Champions Trophy tournament in India.


Benaud said he was angry about the sentence imposed on Inzamam.


"Why didn't he get a Test ban?" Benaud told Sydney's Daily Telegraph Monday. "His proven offence was committed in a Test.


"Instead, he got the minimum one-day ban of four matches when the minimum Test ban was 10 days of cricket.


"The reasoning -- it would have had a more immediate effect in the Champions Trophy -- was lame. He could captain Pakistan in the final."


Benaud said the umpire's power will be even further eroded if countries tried to pick and choose umpires for their matches.


Benaud said Australian umpire Darrell Hair and fellow umpire West Indian Billy Doctrove would umpire again in international matches if there were fairness.


"It depends on the degree of 'if'," he said. "There are two men with stilettos between their shoulder blades -- the Pakistan manager Zaheer Abbas, who has been sacked -- and Hair, the ICC umpire.


"But at no point in any of this has Hair acted alone."


The issue has polarised opinion in the cricket world.


Former English batsman and now commentator Geoffrey Boycott last week lambasted Hair for attempting to "play God" in his handling of the forfeited Test.


"Hair is the first man to apply the five-run penalty for ball-tampering and he got it wrong," Boycott wrote in an English newspaper. "He is also the first man to call a Test match forfeited, and I believe he got that wrong too."

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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