May 21, 2003

Shoaib banned for two matches

Shoaib Akhtar has been fined 75% of his match fee and banned for two one-day internationals for ball-tampering. Akhtar was found guilty of changing the condition of the ball (Law 42.3) and breaching Level 2.10 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players.

Shoaib was hauled before Gundappa Viswanath, the match referee, on Tuesday night after television footage showed him scratching the surface of the ball during Pakistan's 22-run victory over New Zealand.

"Tampering with the ball is contrary to the laws and the spirit of cricket," said Viswanath. "I consider this offence to be of a serious nature and the penalty imposed reflects this view.

"It is unfair to attempt to gain any advantage by altering the condition of the ball, apart from the traditional method of polishing, or the drying of a wet ball," added Viswanath. "Players are aware that they can clean the seam under the direct supervision of an umpire."

Shoaib wasn't available for comment, but Haroon Rashid, the manager of the Pakistan team, indicated that Shoaib was disappointed by the ruling. "He is disappointed as anybody would be but he accepted the decision. He had a fair hearing although he did try to put across his point of view, which was that he was cleaning the ball."

Shoaib will miss the final of the Bank Alfalah Cup on Friday.

Shoaib was warned for ball-tampering during Pakistan's recent tour of Zimbabwe by Clive Lloyd and, later in the same tour, was banned for one match for throwing a bottle into the crowd.

Shoaib was dropped from the team after a poor World Cup, and was brought back for the triangular series in Sri Lanka only after being warned by Tauqir Zia, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Zia made it clear that Shoaib's behaviour would be scrutinised closely and any further misdemeanours would jeopardise his career.