January 7, 2000

ICC may suspend ban on Shoaib Akhtar

Karachi, Jan 6: Shoaib Akhtar is all set to figure in the triangular series in Australia after the International Cricket Council (ICC) sought explanation from its advisory council regarding the suspension of the Pakistan fast bowler.

The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Lt-Gen Tauqir Zia, said from Lahore on Thursday that he received the information from country's perminent representative in ICC, Ehsan Mani.

"According to Ehsan Mani, Jaghmohan Dalmiya (ICC president) has told Sir Clybe Walcott (chairman technical committee) to settle this issue in the next 48 hours," the general said, adding: "Explanation has been sought from the advisory panel as to what were the grounds on which such an extreme action was taken."

The advisory panel of the ICC on illegal deliveries suspended Shoaib Akhtar from international cricket on Dec 30 despite the fact that onlysix out of nine members attended the meeting. Pakistan's representative Intikhab Alam was not allowed to sit when the committee passed the judgement on Shoaib.

The general said Dalmiya issued the instructions after he received Pakistan's protest. Pakistan has also challenged the suspension of Shoaib Akhtar and has requested that the ban be suspended.

"The development is very encouraging. We have received indirect information that the ban on Shoaib Akhtar will be suspended," he said, adding: "The exact picture will clear tomorrow (Friday) afternoon when I discuss the issue with Dalmiya on telephone."

The PCB chairman said he was keen to see the advisory panel meet as soon as possible so that the player is cleared to play in the tri-nation series in Australia.

"I am pretty confident that Shoaib Akhtar will figure in the contest though his appearance in the back-to-back matches on Sunday and Monday seems to be out of question," the general said.

The general said he would like Imran Khan to attend the advisory panel meeting. He said Imran was very clear in his mind that Shoaib's action was legal and has several arguments to support his belief.

"But if Imran is not available, Intikhab will be asked to attend the meeting. It has now been made clear by the ICC that Intikhab will be allowed to sit when the panel makes its decision," Lt-Gen Tauqir said.

The PCB chairman stressed that Pakistan has claimed that if there was suspicion about Shoaib's bowling action when he was delivering an express fast delivery or a bouncer, he should be no-balled instead of banning him.

"Now how can he be banned if there is an element of doubt when he bowls an express fast delivery. He should first be called and then warned before he is suspended and told to remodel his bowling action," said the general.

The general said he was extremely sad over the controversy following board secretary Shafqat Rana's statement. He termed the controversy unnecessary. "I have asked Shafqat over his remarks. And he has denied the he spoke of racism. "But as a policy decision, I have decided that only I will speak on cricket matters. No one else is allowed to give statements," he said.