Inzamam hearing delay means tour goes on
"The difficulty relates to the availability of Madugalle to chair the hearing as he is dealing with a private and personal matter that requires his urgent attention," explained Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive. "Pakistan and England, as the host country, have both expressed a preference for Ranjan to hear the case and on that basis we have agreed to the postponement. We have looked at potential alternatives but, as the ICC's chief referee and a person with immense credibility within the game, Ranjan is the most appropriate person to adjudicate in this matter.
"We are yet to decide upon a new date but the intense nature of the upcoming one-day international series between England and Pakistan is likely to make it extremely difficult to fit in a hearing during that period."
Given that is seems highly unlikely that Madugalle will be available anytime soon, this news makes it almost certain that the hearing will not take place until Pakistan's tour of England has been completed. Speaking to Sky Sports, however, Pakistan's manager, Zaheer Abbas, insisted he would prefer the hearing to take place before Monday, and nominated the West Indian Clive Lloyd as a potential replacement.
Madugalle left the England-Pakistan series after the third Test to attend to a situation at home in Colombo - something that was scheduled prior to the start of the series - and Mike Procter was appointed to officiate in the final game.
The postponement of the hearing will suit the ICC and the ECB just fine as the series would have been in serious jeopardy had Inzamam been banned for any number of matches, as was looking likely.
However, the Pakistan Cricket Board wants the matter resolved at the earliest. "If Madugalle is not available a replacement should be found at the earliest and the hearing should take place as this is a serious matter," a PCB official said, requesting anonymity.
It is also learned that despite having several run-ins with Madugalle in the past, the Pakistan team were most comfortable with him chairing the hearing. Madugalle is the head of match referees panel, and is the most experienced of all officials dealing with matters of this kind. They would rather not have someone else step in and take over the hearing.
The two basic threads that will come up for discussion when the hearing takes place are, firstly, the issue of tampering and whether any evidence existed to confirm that this had taken place. The second pertains to the Pakistan team's decision to stay off the field, thus leaving the umpires with little choice but to award the game to England as a result of a forfeiture.
The postponement of the hearing has been welcomed by Inzamam's lawyers as it will give them more time to prepare their case. However, it is not an ideal situation for Inzamam. He will be playing the ODIs with a sword hanging over his head, knowing full well that the matter of the ball-tampering allegations and the ensuing walk out are far from resolved.
England's Twenty20 international against Pakistan at Bristol on Monday and the subsequent five-match one-day series should now proceed as planned. However, sensitivities remained high as Pakistan's training session at Lord's ahead of Thursday's warm-up match against Middlesex was conducted behind closed doors.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo