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17 July 1996
Imran to face Botham, Lamb in court
It wasn`t the usual way Imran Khan faced up to fellow cricket stars Ian Botham and Allan Lamb.
And on this occasion, it was a judge and jury examining the state of the ball - not the umpire.
And the meeting wasn`t at Lord`s, or even Old Trafford, but at one of the royal courts of justice in the Strand, where former England Test stars Botham and lamb fired questions at the former Pakistan captain.
In a case that could last for a few days, Botham and Lamb allege that Imran launched an "offensive personal attack" on them in India Today magazine, calling them racist, uneducated and lacking class and upbringing.
Botham is also suing the former Pak skipper over a May 1994 story in The Sun tabloid which, he says, accused him of balltampering - something he says he has never done in his career.
Imran, who denies libel, says that on each occasion his words had been taken out of context.
Botham spent much of the first day of the trial in the witness box, fending off questions from Imran`s attorney, George Carman. And on several occasions, his replies provoked laughter from the packed gallery, though Imran and his lawyers were patently unamused.
Botham, who also captained England and retired from the international game in 1992 after 102 Test appearances, said the relationship between the two men was hard on the field and relaxed off it. They were both proud men, he said.
But he bristled when the court heard extracts from Imran`s review of Botham`s autobiography, in which the former Pakistan star made comments about the state of the Englishman`s marriage.
"By the time I finished this autobiography, I was in no doubt as to who the real hero of this book was - Botham`s wife Kathy," Imran had written in course of his review. "I wish her all the luck for the remainder of her marriage."
Botham, who was at the center of newspaper allegations that he had been unfaithful to his wife while on tour with the England team, counter-attacked.
"I though it was an extremely arrogant remark," he told the court. "And I`d like to inform Imran that my wife and I have a very successful marriage, thank you."
Imran`s attorney suggested that Botham had a dim view of Pakistan in general and made a joke in a radio broadcast that "Pakistan was the kind of place you sent your mother-in-law to for a month, all expenses paid."
"No," Botham replied. "I said for two weeks."
When the laughter provoked by that sally had died, Carman suggested the joke was a "disgracefully offensive observation to the people and cricketers of Pakistan".
Botham disagreed. "I would think I`ve been more offensive about Australia," he said.
On day two of the hearing, the judge will hear evidence abou the ball-tampering allegation. The judge and jury have already been handed a set of used balls in order to examine the stitching.
Source :: Rediff ON The NeT (http://www.rediff.co.in)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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