January 27, 2000

Pak charges dismissed but Indians are angry

The role of the ICC match referee has come into sharp focus of late thanks chiefly to the misbehaviour of the players. This kind of misbehaviour can constitute bad language, clashes on the field or baseless charges made by members of one team against the other. And Cammie Smith, the former West Indian opening batsmen of the sixties and now match referee, had his hands full while receiving complaints from Pakistan team members against some Indian players following incidents during the Carlton & United Series game between the two countries at Adelaide on Tuesday, which was won by India by 48 runs.

The charges made by Pakistan were that Venkatesh Prasad called Azhar Mahmood names, that Prasad swore at Yousuf Youhana, that Abdur Razzaq saw Indian captain Sachin Tendulkar tampering with the ball and that Debasish Mohanty was deliberately standing outside the 30 yard fielding circle, contrary to match conditions.

Cammie Smith dismissed the first two for lack of proper evidence. As regards the ball tampering charge, umpires Darrel Hair and Stephen Davis told Smith that they had no problems with the condition of the ball whereupon Cammie Smith dismissed the charge as ``frivolous and without foundation''. As for Mohanty, the player was warned to be more careful in future.

But the dismissal of the Pakistani allegations by the ICC match referee was not the end of the matter. The Indians were quite upset by the charges and coach Kapil Dev gave vent to his feelings. ``I am shocked. We have never tampered with the ball and to accuse a guy like Tendulkar of doing it is absolutely ridiculous. It just shows to what extent teams will go to find excuses for their defeat,'' the former Indian captain said.

Kapil Dev said that the match referee might have dismissed the allegations, ``but why make such charges in the first place? What was the need for it? Maybe they wanted to upset Prasad and Tendulkar.''

Not unexpectedly, Pakistan captain Wasim Akram declined to comment. ``Whatever we had to say we have told the match referee. There is nothing more to add.''

One is sure the last has not been heard on the matter. Moreover the teams are meeting again in a Cartlon & United Series game at Perth on Friday and there is bound to be some tension under the circumstances. Also, the issue brings to the surface a potentially important aspect in that losing teams in future may make use of the relevant rules in the ICC handbook to throw all sorts of charges against the winners.