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December 22, 1999
Karachi, Dec 21: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) ad hoc committee on Tuesday afternoon received a 20-minute video footage on Shoaib Akhtar's bowling action from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
According to knowledgeable sources in the cricket headquarters in Lahore, the PCB also received a letter dated Dec 2 from ICC manager cricket operations Clive Hitchcock.
Hitchcock has further informed the PCB official that the nine-man advisory panel of ICC on illegal deliveries will hold a telephone conference call on Dec 30 to discuss Shoaib's bowling action. Interestingly, the Pakistan team leaves for the second leg of the Australian tour on Dec 29.
Pakistan will be represented by Imran Khan. John Reid, who has questioned the legality of Shoaib's bowling action, will be representing New Zealand.
However, on Tuesday, the PCB officials remained mum and maintained that they have not received anything from the game's governing body.
Nevertheless, reliable sources confirmed to Dawn that the PCB officials and the Australia-bound team officials watched the video footage prepared on the instruction of Match Referee John Reid. During the video session, Shoaib Akhtar was also present.
Sources, however, were not sure if the video included clippings on Shoaib's bowling action in the three-Test series or from a one-day match against Western Australia at Perth on Oct 27. That match was supervized by Terry Prue and Ross Emerson.
Just to recap, WACA's director of umpires, Rick Evans, had submitted a video footage on Shoaib's bowling action to the Australian Cricket Board (ACB). But ACB chief executive Malcolm Speed had responded by saying said that Evans had acted by himself and that matter would not be taken further.
"The video footage had no official status as the match in question was not sanctioned by the ICC so there was no official referee," Speed was quoted as saying.
Sources admitted that in the video, Shoaib Akhtar's bowling action was captured from different camera angles. The clippings also includes actions in slow motion.
Sources in the board said the team management has been asked to submit their views on the footage and ICC letter. They added that the PCB would dispatch its point of view by the end of this week.
A team official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said if the advisory panel of the ICC had any doubts in the Dec 30 conference call, the paceman might return from Australia.
"But it is inappropriate that the conference call has been set for Dec 30 when the ICC is aware that the Pakistan team would leave on Dec 29 for Australia for the tri-nation series which begins on Jan 9. We (the PCB) feels that it is an attempt to further humiliate the bowler because the issue was raised in Australia and if he is not cleared by the ICC panel, he would not be allowed to play in Australia," sources remarked.
Commenting on Clive Hitchcock's letter, sources said the ICC has not asked the PCB to withdraw Shoaib Akhtar from the squad. They said Match Referee (John Reid) and the two umpires (Darrell Hair and Peter Willey) have questioned "the straightening of Shoaib's arm immediately before a bouncer or an express fast delivery."
Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam threw his weight behind Shoaib Akhtar saying that the pacer had a perfect bowling action.
"As far as I am concerned, he is a text book fast bowler.
"Had I been a match referee, I would have appreciated the talent instead of putting his career on line," Intikhab, also an ICC match referee, said from Lahore on telephone.
Intikhab believed that it was a pressure tactic to psychologically disturb the key Pakistan bowler on the eve of the series which is billed as one of the most thrilling series in a decade.
Intikhab said the ICC and ACB have been trying to sweep Brett Lee's issue under the carpet and targeting Shoaib. "If the ICC feels any suspicious about Shoaib's action, then it should alsotake action against Lee who was picked on Tuesday in Australia's second Test squad against India. "India has been questioning the bowling action of Lee," he said.
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