July 11, 2000

Waqar first to be fined for ball tampering

Rehan Siddiqui

Colombo, July 10: Pakistan's paceman, Waqar Younis, became the first player ever at the Test and International level to be suspended and fined for tampering the ball during the match against South Africa, under the ICC Code of Conduct.

He was not the only Pakistani to feel the wrath of Match Referee, John Reid of New Zealand, as allrounder Azhar Mahmood, too was fined, while skipper, Moin Khan, severely reprimanded for bringing the game into disrepute as he was responsible of the team.

Waqar was suspended for one match and fined 50 percent of his match fee. He missed today's crucial encounter against Sri Lanka. Azhar Mahmood was fined 30 percent of his match fee as well as warned.

Pakistani fast bowlers including Wasim Akram have been alleged in the past mostly by the English media for altering the shape of the ball, but the allegations were never proved until today's findings.

The TV footage shown, however, does clearly focus Waqar working furiously on the ball with his nails.

The decision announced by the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, Chief Executive, Dammika Ranatunga, on the recommendation of John Reid on the evidence of TV footage provided by the TV crew, all of whom are South African nationals. South African cricket authorities, specially their Managing Director, Dr. Ali Bacher, in an effort to divert the attention of the international media and public from the misdeeds of disgraced former skipper, Hansie Cronje, and turned his guns on the sub-continent specially Pakistan.

Reid, it may be worthwhile to mention is disliked by the Pakistan Cricket Board officials as well as the players for his anti-Pakistan stance and even ICC early this year was asked by the Pakistan authorities not to appoint him for the home series.

The Press statement released today also mentioned that Waqar was warned during the Third Test against Sri Lanka in Kandy played on June 28. Waqar and Pakistan official, however, claimed that the bowler was only cleaning the dirt off the ball and not defacing the shape of the ball.

Ironically the two Sri Lankan umpires for the match, Ashoka de Silva and Peter Manuel did not report the incident to the Match Referee who took the decision on his own initiative after watching the TV footage.

Another interesting point the Press came to know the gentleman who allegedly provided the footage is another New Zealander, covering the South African team as a journalist. Under the ICC Code of Conduct the action taken by the Match Referee cannot be challenged, besides neither the official nor the offending player could make a statement to the media on the issue.