PCB chairman faces questions October 31, 2006

Senate probes Oval Test forfeiture

Cricinfo staff

Top officials tried hard to convince Inzamam-ul-Haq to resume play at The Oval but he refused to comply © Getty Images
The Oval Test forfeiture and the long-awaited constitution were on the menu of discussion as Nasim Ashraf, the new Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, faced a Senate committee on sports over the recent turbulence that has gripped Pakistan cricket.

A member of the committee, Senator Enver Baig, said that a detailed discussion was held on the Oval Test and the chairman subsequently agreed to hold a thorough probe into the affair. Baig revealed to Karachi-based daily Dawn that Ashraf had initially refused to speak before the committee about the Oval incident but later admitted that the decision of staging the post-tea boycott on the fourth day was the sole decision of captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.

"All the officials present at The Oval including myself, manager Zaheer Abbas and Bob Woolmer tried hard to convince Inzamam to return to the ground but he refused to comply," Ashraf was quoted as saying. Inzamam had repeatedly stressed that he had the support of his team-mates in the decision.

More damagingly, Baig voiced concerns over the result in light of reports that a leading British bookmaker was offering odds on an England win. "We informed him that the bookie was offering 14-1 rate in favour of England while the match was in Pakistan's pocket."

Baig said he told Ashraf that the PCB should not overlook the bookies factor since match-fixing allegations have been levelled against the players in the past. "The matter is a serious one and you should consider all the aspects and an inquiry should be held into the affair."

Meanwhile, the long-absent constitution of the board was also discussed and Ashraf assured the committee that it would be in place by January 31, 2007. Ashraf said that the constitution is almost finalised and would be implemented following approval from President Pervez Musharraf, the board's patron-in-chief.

"For us, it is very important that the PCB has a constitution and is run according to it as soon as possible," Baig told The News. "We have been told by the PCB chairman that the constitution would be ready soon and would be implemented by January 31 next year. We would get back to him on February 1 over this matter."

Baig also said that the constitution should lead to the board having a chairman who is elected by representatives of its provincial association and other affiliated units. "There should not be any direct appointments in the board by the president of Pakistan. The president is the patron-in-chief of the PCB but we believe he should not be involved in the working of the board."

This is not the first time the committee has called in the PCB chairman. Through his three-year tenure, Shaharyar Khan, Ashraf's predecessor, was summoned to face questions on a number of occasions over the board's finances and the team's performances.