January 1, 2000

PCB to protest ICC: Waqar replaces suspended Shoaib for triangular

Karachi, Dec 31: Waqar Younis was named to replace Shoaib Akhtar who was suspended from international cricket by the ICC after its advisory panel ruled his bowling actionillegal.

Waqar is expected to fly out to Perth on Saturday to the join the cricket team that reached there on Wednesday for the tri-nation series starting from Jan 9. Immediately after Waqar's arrival, Shoaib will be released from the squad.

The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Lt-Gen Tauqir Zia told Dawn on telephone on Friday that he had received the International Cricket Council (ICC) findings on Shoaib Akhtar late on Thursday evening.

"At the moment, Shoaib has been ruled out from the triangular series in Australia. But he will be provided with the best possible facilities to rectify his action and become eligible for selection for the series against Sri Lanka in February" said the general from Mangla.

Sri Lanka arrive here on Feb 8 to play three Tests and as many one-day internationals.

The general minced no words in expressing his disguise over the ICC decision. He said the PCB would challenge the outcome of the advisory panel and would also request to review the decision.

"We would request the ICC to review its decision but will protest to Sir Clyde Walcott (chairman of the advisory panel) on the judgement which we feel is not fair."

"Questions have been raised over Shoaib's action while bowling a particular delivery (bouncer). Now how can the ICC put Shoaib's career on line because of one delivery. Besides, his disqualification from the Australian series is also contestable because bouncers are no-balled in one-day cricket," the general argued.

For Waqar Younis, it was a welcome surprise on the eve of a new millennium. The paceman was facing heavy cash penalty, if not suspension, for accusing his long-time bowling partner and now captain Wasim Akram of victimizing him and settling old scores.

Younis had made the allegations after he was ignored for the second half of the Australian tour after being a member of the team that toured the kangrooland for three-Tests series which it lost 3-0.

Younis has 284 wickets from 173 one-day internationals.

Lt-Gen Tauqir said: "Waqar's selection was a unanimous decision of the PCB advisory panel. Besides, we are announcing his name after informing the tour management in Australia."

The PCB chairman said no disciplinary action will be taken against Waqar after he submitted an unconditional apology.

Also considered for selection were pacemen Shahid Nazir and Mohammad Akram. Akram had toured for the Test series and also played in the Perth Test where he took five wickets. Shahid last played for Pakistan about two years ago in Sri Lanka.

While the ICC advisory panel on illegal deliveries found Shoaib Akhtar's bowling action illegal, former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad had his own views.

"No matter what the ICC says, I believe that Shoaib Akhtar has a perfect bowling action," he said in support of the 24-year old pacer.

Miandad said what the ICC advisory panel didn't consider was the point where Shoaib Akhtar was releasing the delivery. He observed that the members appeared more interested in watching the bend in the bowler's arm "which can be because of a fracture in childhood."

Aqib Javed, whose seven for 37 is the best bowling figures in one-day cricket, slammed match referee John Reid "for inconsistent observations."

Aqib said Reid should have questioned Shoaib's action in South Africa where he was the match referee for the three-Test series between Pakistan and South Africa "and Shoaib figured in all the three Tests."

Reid was also the match referee in the World Cup semi-finals against New Zealand but didn't raise the issue until the third Test at Perth where controversial umpire Darrell Hair and Peter Willey were the umpires.

Jalaluddin, who recorded the first hat-trick of one-day cricket, added spice to the controversy when he said the ICC should conduct its own inhouse investigation to find if Reid was correct or other match referees who officiate matches in which Shoaib played were correct.

Shoaib's action has been declared illegal after he has played in 13 Tests and 29 one-dayers, including 10 in the World Cup.

It is more than a coincidence that first Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was called for throwing in Australia and now Shoaib Akhtar's career is in jeopardy after making his first tour of Down Under