A liaison officer with the Pakistan team during the recent ICC Champions Trophy has made the sensational allegation that Shoaib Akhtar struck Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach, after they quarrelled over what music should be played on the team bus in Jaipur. The claims have been rubbished by Shoaib, Woolmer and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Colonel Anil Kaul, security-in-charge of the Pakistan team, claimed to Delhi-based channel NDTV that there was more to the sending back of Shoaib than just the doping charges, while also alleging that the fast bowler, facing a two-year ban for doping, misbehaved with girls in a discotheque and caused disturbance at the team hotel.
Kaul said, "These boys were listening to Hindi songs when Bob Woolmer removed an iPod and put on an English song. Shoaib got up and again changed the music, putting on a Hindi song. Woolmer first kept quiet and then started making fun of the song. This was too much for Shoaib who suddenly got up and gave Woolmer a tight slap. Everyone was stunned and quickly intervened."
The allegations have been vehemently denied by both Shoaib and Woolmer. Shoaib responded to the same channel: "Why would I slap anyone? I have never argued with the coach and neither do I have any thing with Woolmer on which I would argue. There was probably an argument, a difference of opinions but never anything as serious as raising my hand on someone. There is nothing to this, these are all concocted stories. I have a very good relationship with Bob."
Woolmer confirmed this version and denied that Shoaib was sent back for any reason other than the doping charges. Speaking to Cricinfo, Woolmer said, "The story just isn't true. I don't have an iPod and anyway it was a cellphone with music on it. I didn't have any way of changing the song. We joked about the music but at no stage did Shoaib slap me. We were just having a laugh. He was sent back because of the doping issue and nothing else."
The PCB are unlikely to let the matter rest here either as both Woolmer and Salim Altaf, director operations PCB, say they will contact the ICC about Kaul's allegations. Altaf told Cricinfo, "He is employed by the ICC to look after the team. He cannot go around afterwards giving fabricated stories to news channels. Action will be taken and we will take it up with the ICC."
If action is taken, it is likely that Kaul's comments about an incident in a discotheque as well as the team hotel, both involving Shoaib, will also be looked at. "Shoaib also misbehaved with some girls in a disco which led to a brawl," Kaul alleged.
He added, "Shoaib went to the floor where the Indian team was staying and started banging on the doors. He accidently banged on the door of the India coach Greg Chappell and his wife came out. She was dressed in her night clothes and Shoaib made some comments about her. The next morning I was having breakfast with Talat Ali, the Pakistan team manager, when Woolmer stormed in and said even Chappell has complained about Shoaib and strict action must be taken."
Both incidents have been denied by Shoaib and the PCB. Altaf said that Talat Ali's report had made no mention of any such incidents.