Justice Qayyum's verdict on Wasim Akram

Akram seems “too sullied” to be captain

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65. Wasim Akram has been the captain of the Pakistan team in several stints from 1993 till the present.

Allegation One: Involvement in attempting to fix the christchurch match

66. In his statement before this commission of inquiry Ata-ur-Rehman had alleged that Wasim Akram had paid him a sum of Rs 100,000 to bowl badly in a match in New Zealand, in Christchurch in 1993-94. He said Akram had in fact promised him Rs 200,000 but paid him half the amount promising to pay the rest later if Ata continued to cooperate. He said Akram had told him that Ijaz Ahmed had fixed the game with Zafar Alias Jojo in Pakistan.

67. Ata-ur-Rehman subsequently again appeared before the Commission and stated that while he was in Newcastle, England, Wasim Akram had asked him to see his solicitors and sign a new affidavit (in response to Aamir Sohail's affidavit). This affidavit was contradictory to the previous one. He says he signed this second affidavit under coercion and threats from Wasim Akram that he has a lot of contacts in Pakistan and would get him fixed if he did not give the second affidavit. Wasim Akram provided a ticket to Ata to travel to London. The ticket was produced and the ticket, according to Ata, was charged to Akram's credit card. Counsel for Wasim Akram has accepted that the ticket was on Akram's credit card.

68. Ata-ur-Rehman was subsequently recalled on the request of Wasim Akram for cross-examination. He appeared before the Commission on the 3rd of September, 1999. While being subjected to cross examination he did a complete about-turn and went back on the earlier statement. He categorically stated that he had earlier given a false statement in which he had involved Wasim Akram. He said he had made the said statement under some misunderstanding. He was immediately put on ECL (Exit Control List) and subsequently issued with a notice for perjury.

69. Later, when Ata-ur-Rehman appeared before this Commission again, to be issued a show-cause notice for perjury, he stated that he had in fact been induced by Aamir Sohail to make a statement against Wasim Akram and that the affidavit was also given at his instance. He however reiterated that Wasim Akram had supplied him with a ticket for travelling from Newcastle to London and that that ticket was charged to Wasim Akram's credit card.

70. In view of Ata-ur-Rehman's volte-face, corroboration was sought in support of his earlier or later affidavit. In support of the earlier affidavit, three sources presented themselves:

1. One was Imran Khan. Imran Khan had earlier stated in his statement that the only knowledge he had of match-fixing was of when Ata had told him that Wasim had paid him to throw the Christchurch match. Ata told him this after the news about the first affidavit had broken in the papers. Ata accepted this too.

2. The second source of corroboration was Rashid Latif. Mr. Latif states in this Christchurch match Wasim Akram had declared himself unfit before the Pakistanis took the field. He was holding his shoulder as if in pain even before the first ball was bowled. He only bowled six overs and did not even complete his spell. According to Latif, no balls and wides were bowled deliberately by Wasim Akram and on at least two occasions the balls were bowled so wide that the wicket keeper could not get to it and the opposition got eight wides at a crucial time in the game. These runs were given away at a time when the weather was turning nasty and with rain imminent the Pakistani bowlers could have saved the match but they were bowling in such a hurry that the run rate was accelerated and NZ won the game. In one-day cricket bowlers never bowl bouncers as they can give away too many runs but the Pakistani bowlers deliberately bowled bouncers. In Rashid's opinion, as he had a clear view from his place behind the stumps, Wasim (and Salim Malik) were the main culprits for Pakistan's loss.

The scorecard shows that the Pakistani bowlers gave away 25 extras. (lb8, w14, nb3). Twenty five extras means not only 25 bonus runs for the opposition but 17 no balls and wides total means they had a gift of 17 extra deliveries to score runs off. The detailed score card is as follows:-

New Zealand v Pakistan, 1993/94, 5th One-day International

Lancaster Park, Christchurch

16 March 1994 (50-overs match)

Result: New Zealand won by 7 wickets

Pakistan wins the 5-ODI series 3-1

Toss: New Zealand

Umpires: BL Aldridge and CE King

Match Referee: S Subba Jow (Eng)

Man of the Match: BR Hartland

Pakistan innings (50 overs maximum)

Saeed Anwar c Hart b Pringle 2

Aamer Sohail c Rutherford b Morrison 1

Inzamam-ul-Haq c Young b Pringle 4

Asif Mujtaba b Cairns 3

*Saleem Malik c Young b Cairns 15

Basit Ali c Young b Pringle 57

+Rashid Latif c Parore b Morrison 9

Wasim Akram c Parore b Larsen 7

Akram Raza not out 23

Waqar Younis c Cairns b Morrison 4

Ata-ur-Rehman not out 3

Extras (lb 6, w 8, nb 3) 17

Total (9 wickets, 50 overs) 145

FoW: 1-3 (Aamer Sohail), 2-8 (Saeed Anwar), 3-17 (Inzamam-ul-Haq), 4-19 (Asif Mujtaba), 5-45 (Saleem Malik), 6-65 (Rashid Latif), 7-86 (Wasim Akram), 8-121 (Basit Ali), 9-136 (Waqar Younis).

Bowling O M R W

Morrison 10 2 20 3

Pringle 10 1 21 3

Cairns 10 0 36 2

Larsen 10 1 21 1

Hart 4 0 17 0

Thomson 6 0 24 0

New Zealand innings (target: 146 runs from 50 overs)

BA Young c Rashid Latif b Waqar Younis 3

BR Hartland not out 68

AH Jones c Rashid Latif b Waqar Younis 1

*KR Rutherford c Akram Raza b Ata-ur-Rehman 1

SA Thomson not out 48

Extras (lb 8, w 14, nb 3) 25

Total (3 wickets, 34.1 overs) 146

DNB: CL Cairns, MN Hart, +AC Parore, GR Larsen, DK Morrison,

C Pringle.

FoW: 1-26 (Young), 2-34 (Jones), 3-45 (Rutherford).

Bowling O M R W

Wasim Akram 6.3 0 17 0

Waqar Younis 8.1 1 33 2

Ata-ur-Rehman 9 0 44 1

Aamer Sohail 4 0 18 0

Akram Raza 3.3 0 14 0

Saleem Malik 3 0 12 0

3. The third source was the Rashid Latif and Ata conversation on tape. Ata has denied that the voice on the tape was his.

1. Still on the Christchurch match, Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam when asked in court, said that Akram had been fit for that game. However, he stated that at the time the match did not appear to his to have been fixed.

2. Rashid Latif on Akram's injury, said that Akram was feigning injury as he had been rubbing his shoulder even prior to the start of the New Zealand batting.

Allegation Two: Withdrawal from World Cup 1996 Quarter Final

3. In the Bangalore quarter final against India during the 1996 World Cup, Wasim Akram decided at the last minute not to play the match. This according to vice-captain Aamir Sohail was fatal to the outcome of the game as he was asked to captain the side five minutes before the toss.

4. In cross examination Wasim Akram said he was injured. In his statement before this honorable court strike bowler Waqar Younis said that it was not the normal practice for injured players to travel with the team.

5. Team physiotherapist Dan Keisel in his statement in court said that Wasim was allowed to travel to Bangalore because the injury was minor. He said when he examined him in Bangalore the day before the match Wasim was sure that he would be fit to play, keeping in view the importance of the game.

6. Aamir Sohail stated that Wasim had told him he was fit and will be playing even the night before. But at the last instant on the day of the match, he said he could not play.

Allegation Three: Tampering with the batting order o fix matches in the Independence Cup and at Sharjah

7. Former captain Majid Khan, ex-Chief Executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board has said that during the 1997 Independence Cup in Lahore Wasim Akram as captain deliberately did not send in form players to bat at crucial times and consistently promoted himself in the batting order. When confronted with this Wasim, admitted his mistake and, although he was the captain, said that he did not know who the in form players were. A month later in a Sharjah tournament, the Singer Champions Trophy 1997-98, Wasim repeated the same mistake despite being admonished by the coach Haroon Rasheed and the Chief Executive, Majid Khan. Majid says that when he went to Sharjah briefly and spoke to the coach Haroon Rasheed, his reply was that the team could not win matches if the captain did not want to win them.

8. Wasim Akram had consistently promoted himself in the batting order above the in form players thereby making the target difficult for Pakistan to achieve. He persisted in sending out of form batsmen in the top order positions. He again went above Azhar Mahmood and in an important Sharjah game scored 4 off 19 balls and Pakistan lost the match despite being in a comfortable position. Detailed score card is as follows:-

PAKISTAN v. ENGLAND (5th Match)

Played at Sharjah CA Stadium on December 15, 1997 (day/night)

Toss: England Debutants: NIL

Umpires: SA Bucknor (WI) & KT Francis (SL); c.j. Mitchley (TV Reply)

ICC Referee: PJB Burge (Aus)

Result: England won by 8 runs Iaward: Manzoor Akhtar (Pakistan)

England

AD Brown c Moin Khan b Saqlain Mushtaq 41

AJ Stewar b Manzoor Akhtar 47

NV Knight b Manzoor Akhtar 18

GA Hick b Manzoor Akhtar 40

GP Thorpe run out 3

*AJ Hollioake c Shahid Afridi b Manzoor Akhtar 17

MA Ealham c & b Saqlain Mushtaq 6

DR Brown not out 18

MV Fleming c & b Saqlain Mushtaq 0

RDB Croft c Ijaz Ahmed b Saqlain Mushtaq 6

DW Headly not out 6

EXTRAS (b 1, lb 4, w 7, nb 1) 13

TOTAL : For 9 wkts in 50 overs 215

Fall of Wickets: 71, 108, 121, 129, 168, 180, 185, 185, 203

Wasim Akram 6-1-34-0; Azhar Mahmood 7-1-31-0, Saqlain Mushtaq 10-1-26-4; Mushtaq Ahmed 10-0-45-0; Manzoor Akhtar 10-0-50-4; Shahid Afridi 7-0-26-0.

Pakistan

Aamar Sohail b Headley 1

Shahid Afridi b DR Brown 0

Saeed Anwar b Croft 54

Ijaz Ahmad c Croft b Ealham 41

Akhtar Sarfraz b Croft 20

Manzoor Akhtar run out 44

Moin Khan c Knight b Fleming 10

*Wasim Akram c DR Brown b Hollioake 4

Azhar Mahmood c Stewart b Hollioake 12

Saqlain Mushtaq run out 9

Mushtaq Ahmad not out 0

EXTRAS (lb 5, w 5, nb 2) 12

TOTAL: all out in 49 overs 207

Fall of Wickets: 1, 5, 99, 99, 134, 152, 177, 185, 207.

DR Brown 5-0-29-1; Headly 8-0-33-1; Ealham 10-1-39-1; Croft 10-1-39-2; Hollioake 10-0-35-2; Fleming 6-0-27-1.

Allegation Four: General Allegations

9. Aaqib Javed in his statement said that Wasim Akram had threatened to keep him out of the team so long as he was captain. This transpired after Aaqib had been instructed to contact Saleem Pervez, accept a sum of Rs 40 lacs and a vehicle in order to join the team the Sri Lanka. Aaqib said he declined after which Akram said Aaqib would never play. Aaqib did not play for Pakistan till Wasim Akram was not available for the captaincy.

10. In his statement Aaqib named Malik and Akram as two of the main persons of match-fixing.

11. Former captain Javed Miandad said that during his captaincy he had been informed by Idress (Cadbury), who is the brother of alleged bookie Hanif Cadbury, that Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and another player whose name he could not remember was on his brother's books.

12. In the Singer Trophy final, Rashid also mentions that Wasim Akram was reprimanded by coach Intikhab Alam for using his mobile phone in the dressing room when mobiles were not to be switched on as per the rules of the Pakistan Cricket Board. He stated that he had heard Wasim say of a match that 'he did not know' implying that Wasim did not know whether that match was fixed or not.

13. The other players who had mobile phones, a time when they were not so common, were Malik and Younis. Intikhab says the Pakistan Cricket Board management had arrived at the conclusion a long time ago that these mobiles were used by players to maintain contact with the bookies.

Findings, reasons and recommendations.

14. The first allegation was prima facie the strongest against Wasim Akram. However, having considered the entire evidence, on record, this commission has come to the conclusion that Ata-ur-Rehman in view of his retraction from his earlier statement and various subsequent statements cannot be believed with any degree of certainty. His statement cannot be made the basis of holding Wasim Akram guilty of the offence of match-fixing. Ata's first story was that compelling that if Ata-ur-Rehman had not retracted from his earlier statement and if his statement had stood the test of cross-examination, then perhaps this commission might have held Wasim Akram guilty of fixing the Christchurch one-day match. But in the present scenario, this is not possible.

15. The three possible sources of corroboration that seemed have offered themselves too are too weak to prove the charge or support one of Ata's stories. The sources are as follows:

1. What Ata told Imran Khan about Wasim making Ata an offer was not contemporaneous; it was not after the New Zealand tour. Ata told Imran Khan after the news broke in the papers. Ata could well have been lying to Imran Khan after the news broke in the papers to support his story, to save face, or for any number of reasons.

2. Rashid Latif's statement against Wasim Akram. It is just his personal opinion. While this Commission gives Rashid Latif's testimony a lot of weight generally, in this instance the facts do not really support his assertions. 6.3 overs for 17 runs may be magnificent bowling (even in the context of a low scoring match.) Moreover, the Commission has to take into consideration Rashid's state of mind during that match. Rashid had been just offered money by the Captain. He may well have been a tad paranoid. This possibility of paranoia must be taken account of.

3. The taped of the conversation between Ata-ur-Rehman and Rashid Latif cannot provide good, independent corroboration as Ata once more may well have been lying to Rashid Latif. Further, for the reasons earlier stated the tapes cannot be taken as anything other than weak corroboration.

1. Use of a cellular phone and a reprimand for it cannot result in guilt. A phone is not an incriminating object.

2. As regards the sub-allegation that Akram was feigning injury, it can be said that there is no proof either way. Rashid and Intikhab only give personal opinions. Akram could well have injured himself during the Pakistan inning. Even Wisden seemed to note that the injury was authentic.

3. Most crucially, as regards allegation one, the Aamir Sohail factor was introduced into the matters by Ata-ur-Rehman, the 'Aamir Sohail factor' being the allegation that Aamir Sohail induced Ata to make the statement against Wasim Akram. While this commission is minded to disbelieve anything Ata-ur-Rehman says in light of the number of times he has changed his statement, it must still consider whether Aamir Sohail could have influenced Ata's into making a false first affidavit. Even if it appears unlikely, there is a chance that Aamir Sohail did. This introduces some doubt in my mind about Ata's first affidavit.

4. Aamir Sohail by his subsequent actions ironically seems to clear Wasim Akram. When Sohail later became the captain of the Pakistan team, he played Wasim under him. Even recently Sohail agreed to play under the man he said is likely to be crooked. In all of this Aamir Sohail gives some credence to Ata's statements that Aamir Sohail put him up to making the first affidavit and that it was false. Moreover, it needs be noted that when Aamir Sohail appeared initially before this Commission he was the Captain of Pakistan and had nothing substantial to say. This was despite his making a lot of allegations in the press. Even Ata-ur-Rehman talks of this in his taped conversation with Rashid Latif. Thereafter, once he had left the Captaincy he came back on 19.12.98 to the court with several allegations. All of this damages Aamir Sohail's credibility and gives some credence to Ata's second statement.

5. As regards allegation one on its own, this commission is left with no option but to hold Wasim Akram not guilty of the charge of match-fixing. This the Commission does so only by giving Wasim Akram the benefit of the doubt. This is done on the ground of insufficient evidence. Wasim is barely saved through Ata-ur-Rehman's discrediting himself and Aamir Sohail's actions.

6. As regards allegation two on its own, in light of Dr. Dan Keisel and Intikhab Alam's statement, Wasim Akram cannot be said to have been feigning injury. Therefore he is cleared.

7. As regards allegation three on its own, of tampering with the batting order to fix the match, it has been said that Wasim was trying to take responsibility by going in himself, a risk that failed. This commission is willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Wasim Akram.

8. As regards general allegations, although Rashid Latif has made allegations against him but the same have not been substantiated with any evidence. Likewise the statement of Javed Miandad or that for matter Ms. Fareshteh Gati-Aslam or Majid Khan is not sufficient for arriving at a finding of guilt.

9. Although Aaqib Javed's statement too does not hold some weight as all Aqib said was that someone allegedly delivered Wasim's threat. As such this is strictly hearsay and inadmissible.

10. In favor of Akram, there is the evidence of police inquiries made into the kidnapping of his father. The two inquiries have revealed that the kidnapping did not concern match-fixing or gambling.

11. However, once this commission looks at the allegations in their totality, this commission feels that all is not well here and that Wasim Akram is not above board. He has not co-operated with this Commission. It is only by giving Wasim Akram the benefit of the doubt after Ata-ur-Rehman changed his testimony in suspicious circumstances that he has not been found guilty of match-fixing. He cannot be said to be above suspicion. It is, therefore, recommended that he be censured and be kept under strict vigilance and further probe be made either by the Government of Pakistan or by the Cricket Board into his assets acquired during his cricketing tenure and a comparison be made with his income. Furthermore, he should be fined Rs. 3 lac.

12. More importantly, it is further recommended that Wasim Akram be removed from captaincy of the national team. The captain of the national team should have a spot-less character and be above suspicion. Wasim Akram seems to be too sullied to hold that office.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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