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July 4, 2001
It seems the whole (cricket) world is after Inzamam. I wonder if his star is taking some bad twirls at the moment?
He must have barely recovered from the shock of a fine plus a two-match ban on showing dissent against Peter Willey's lbw decision in the NatWest Series final, when another bombshell, or so it seems, has dropped on the burly man's head.
Beware 'Inzi'; you'll be without your helmet this time round, as this new allegation does not relate to your on-field activities!
A news report in the UK's Electronic Telegraph and the same story reported in the Pakistan print media says: "Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan batsman, could be questioned by Lord Condon's anti-corruption unit regarding his performance in a one-day match against Australia during last month's triangular series also involving England, according to well-placed sources."
For those who don't know much about the incident, Inzamam was stumped off Shane Warne shortly after coming to the crease. For some, this early exit of Inzamam, without doubt Pakistan's most reliable batsman was thought to be a key factor in Pakistan's eventual loss by seven wickets.
According to the report, "The Daily Telegraph reporter covering the match recorded that Inzamam appeared to react to the stationing of a silly point by "sallying pointlessly down the pitch... The suspicion is that Inzamam's sally may have been anything but pointless, and investigators will want to know if it might have been part of some spread-betting operation."
The report adds: "If Inzamam is questioned this would not be the first time he has figured in cricket corruption inquiries.
"He was questioned by Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum during his enquiry into Pakistani match-fixing last year. At one stage the judge got so exasperated with Inzamam's responses that he asked him to eat some nuts (in Pakistan, it is believed this clears the brain) and return to provide fuller answers."
The report has gone on to say..."If the Pakistan batsman is questioned by Condon's team it will be interesting to see how he fares."
Well, for some, this "potential" questioning may be interesting or amusing, but for me and perhaps for the player, this rally to hustle up an investigation is totally unwarranted and uncalled for.
One might ask, with due respect to the reader or "investigator", is there something especially unusual in a batsman getting out for a second-ball duck? One can conjecture if Inzamam had got out on the first ball, would then it have been acceptable to any investigator?
If it's not, then I find it obligatory to warn all the batsmen of the world not to get out for a duck, especially not on the first ball and never ever on the second, otherwise they may find the press urging the ACU, whose chief is Sir Paul Condon, to get on their heels, if nothing else!
On the other hand, it would not be out of place to furnish a word of advice (at the cost of being termed a loudmouth) to the ACU, if this story is at all true. Instead of getting dragged into cases which do not have any base, it must focus on more concrete evidence than a batsman losing his cool and playing rashly or a bowler letting loose a wide at a critical point in a match.
Moreover, it would be better if the ACU relies on more than on intuition (for me, Inzamam's case is based on intuition) but on solid evidence.
If indeed, the ACU does proceed with questioning Inzamam, and whether the investigators get something valuable out of the meeting is yet to be known. One thing is clear though: the meeting would end up with Sir Paul recommending something better then nuts for 'Inzi's' memory!
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?