Today's action by Mr. John Reid, the ICC Match Referee for the Singer Triangular Series 2000, against two Pakistan players and the Captain of the cricket team has caused a furore in the cricket World. In Pakistan the news has spread a wave of disappointment among millions of cricket fans. Most of them feel that their cricketing heroes have been made the victims of stark injustice.

Mr. Reid fined Waqar Younis 50% of his match fee and awarded him a one ODI match suspension, while Azhar Mahmood was fined 30% of his match fee and Moin Khan severely reprimanded.

It is ironical that the match Referee reportedly charged Waqar Younis with ball tampering only on the basis of TV coverage which showed the player moving his thumb on the ball. It is not known whether the ball was really found to be tampered nor is it made clear that the umpires' lodged a complaint about it. The incidents took place during the Pakistan match against South Africa on 8 July 2000.

The question arises, was the player asked to explain his action before awarding him such a severe punishment? It is quite likely that he was cleaning the ball of mud, dust or any other element. How was his intention of ball tampering confirmed?

It may he recalled that the issue of ball tampering cropped up during Pakistan team's tour of England in 1992. High level investigations and inquiries were carried out. While no player was punished for ball tampering, the issue died its own death.

Mr. Reid's action makes Waqar Younis, the first player in the history of the game to be suspended on ball tampering charges. Is not it incorrect to accuse and punish a player who has been a symbol of honesty and integrity in international cricket? Waqar has been a player of impeccable character, never accused of even the smallest act of indiscipline on the cricket field. How could a player who brought honour and glory to the game through his sterling performances, think of indulging in any act that would bring the game into disrepute.

On what evidence Azhar Mahmood was punished. Similarly, how far it was fair to reprimand Moin Khan, the Captain of the Pakistan team for "allowing the spirit of the game to be impaired."

The cricket fans in Pakistan whose tempers are rising high, feel that it is an act of vindictiveism on the part of Mr. John Reid, to single out only the Pakistan team members. His act has not only humiliated the players and their families but also defamed Pakistan's cricket.

It may be recalled that Pakistan objected to Reid's posting as match referee in the home series against Sri Lanka last March and had him replaced. How could he be a friend of Pakistan?

Punishing two players severely and reprimanding the Captain on a dubious charge was tantamount to demoralizing and disgracing the whole Pakistan team. With his cynicism, Mr. Reid created the anticlimax to an otherwise pleasantly successful Pakistan team's tour of Sri Lanka.

The nation feels that Mr. John Reid has been biased against Pakistan. It would be appropriate for the Pakistan Cricket Board to take up the matter with the ICC with the recommendation that Mr. Reid should he removed from the panel of match referees or atleast not appointed in the international series participated by Pakistan.

Late Press Reports state that Mr Yawar Saeed, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Director of Operations has stated; `I think John Reid has been a bit biased against Pakistan and we will certainly take up this matter with the ICC'.

Another controversy has crept up when international cricket least needed it.