England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval August 22, 2006

Woolmer: "There's room for reason"

Cricinfo staff

Bob Woolmer: 'It would be difficult for the players to play on if we are labelled cheats' © Getty Images

Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, has said that Inzamam-ul-Haq and his team are prepared to accept a punishment for bringing the game into disrepute, but warned that the forthcoming one-day series against England could be scrapped if he is found guilty of ball-tampering.

"My feeling is that the ICC have already closed ranks and will penalise Inzamam heavily," Woolmer told The News. Inzamam will face an ICC hearing on Friday after being charged with two Code of Conduct offences resulting from the Oval Test, and he faces a possible four Test or eight ODI ban. If the team does pull out, the Pakistan Cricket Board would risk a fine of $2m (approx £1.1m) and a possible suspension by the ICC.

"The ball-tampering charge is the sticking-point," Woolmer told ITV News. "There's probably room for reason here. We have no truck at all with the England cricket board and players, but we have been accused of cheating [by the umpires], and that is the worst thing you can do to this Pakistan cricket team.

"If Inzamam is penalised and penalised heavily, which he could well be, then I cannot guarantee that my side will definitely play. I would think the one-day series may well be in serious jeopardy. It would be difficult for the players to play on if we are labelled cheats."

Woolmer's comments come after Shaharyar Khan, the PCB board chairman, told reporters that the series was not in doubt. His stance appeared to be backed by Inzamam himself when he told London's Daily Express: "We will wait for the decision and then make up our minds but it would be difficult for the players to play on if we are labelled cheats."

Inzamam also called on the ICC to declare the Test as null and void after the incidents. Writing in his column for The News, a Pakistan-based daily, he also stated that this was the biggest disappointment in his career. "If anything we want the ICC to declare the Oval test result as null and void," he wrote. "The Pakistan Board is already trying to convince the ICC to do this. I am hugely disappointed and hurt by the slur cast on our team by Hair. I never thought my last test in England would end this way."

Inzamam has been charged with two offences, one relating to the condition of the ball and the other - the more serious one - which accuses him of bringing the game into disrepute. The first carries a maximum fine of 100% of his match fee and/or a one Test/ODI ban. The second carries a maximum penalty of a four Test/eight ODI ban.

If he is found guilty then he has 24 hours to appeal and he would be free to play until that appeal is heard. Usually, that would mean that the appeal would be heard while the one-day series is still taking place. However, the authorities might opt to avoid a showdown by not scheduling the appeal hearing until after the end of the one-day series.