ICC top brass try to resolve Pakistan crisis
by AFP

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

DateLine: 25th August 2006


The International Cricket Council's leading administrators were all in London on Friday as efforts were stepped up to find a way out of the ball-tampering row engulfing Pakistan's tour of England.


An ICC spokesman confirmed that as well as chief executive Malcolm Speed, whose arrival had been widely trailed, the global governing body's president, Percy Sonn, and general manager-cricket, David Richardson, had also come across for meetings.


The spokesman added that a news conference was set to be held in London later Friday.


Pakistan have threatened to boycott the remainder of their tour 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 and final Test against England at The Oval on Sunday.


Inzamam's disciplinary hearing, due to take place Friday in London, has been postponed because of the unavailabilty through personal reasons of ICC chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle to hear the case.


On Thursday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced they had made contingency plans to play against an International XI should Pakistan pull out of Monday's Twenty20 international.


The ECB has also held talks with other countries to fulfil the five forthcoming one-day internationals should Pakistan withdraw.


This was despite earlier assurances from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan that his side would go ahead with those matches.


Cancelling the one-dayers would cost the ECB an estimated 10 million pounds.


Pakistan are due to play England in a Twenty20 match at Bristol on Monday before the one-day series proper starts Wednesday in Cardiff.


The ECB said it had "received approval from ICC to approach leading world players to form an international XI to play against England at Bristol on Monday in case of the unlikely eventuality of the England v Pakistan game being unable to proceed."


ECB chief executive David Collier said: "Given the current uncertainty concerning the scheduling of the Code of Conduct hearing and imminence of the International Twenty 20 it is prudent to examine all options to provide spectators with guaranteed play on Monday.


"ECB can also confirm that it has been in discussion with ICC and other full member boards to provide a further contingency plan for the NatWest (one-day) series. These discussions are well advanced, but it is hoped that the Pakistan team will be able to fulfil its commitments."


The Pro40 match scheduled for Monday between Nottinghamshire and Glamorgan has been brought forward a day to Sunday to allow major players from those clubs - notably New Zealand's Stephen Fleming - to play in the Twenty20.


Finding replacement opponents for the one-dayers is more problematic with England, regardless of the financial implications, desperate to boost their one-day international form in the run-up to next year's World Cup having been thrashed 5-0 at home by Sri Lanka earlier in the season.


Australia, West Indies and India are due to play a triangular tournament in Malaysia in the run-up to October's Champions Trophy event in India.


But South Africa, whose coach Mickey Arthur has expressed an interest in playing England, and Sri Lanka could step in as their one-day series has just been cancelled because of security concerns in Colombo.


Such has been the effect of the ongoing row that Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer admitted he'd come close to resigning.


Pakistan were incensed by the decision of on-field umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove to award England five penalty runs on Sunday because they believed the tourists had illegally altered the condition of the ball.


When they twice failed to come on after tea with the umpires it was ruled that Pakistan had forfeited the match - the first time this had happened in 129 years of Test cricket - and England won the series 3-0.


Soon after Inzamam was charged, it became increasingly clear that Pakistan's players were uncomfortable about playing on with, in the words of Shaharyar, the "sword of the hearing hanging over them".


Pakistan did turn up for their warm-up match against Middlesex at Uxbridge, west London, on Thursday but the game was abandoned because of rain.


Veteran Australia official Hair has been the main target of the tourists' anger, with Shaharyar writing to ICC to request he be barred from standing in all future Pakistan matches.


But Speed said: "It remains the role of the ICC and not our members to appoint umpires. The appointments are made without fear of favour."

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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