The Chief Executive of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Rameez Raja Monday said that the interpretation of laws govering the International Cricket Council (ICC) players Code of Conduct were not being implemented universally and further observed that there appeared to be a different set of rules for different cricketers.

"I do not want to defend the acts of Shoaib Akhtar because his action was discouraging to Pakistan cricket and that too at a time when we are trying to introduce a new culture in the new team. He has been reprimanded and he has shown his remorse," Rameez Raja said in a statement.

Rameez quoted the recent on-field incidents in other matches which were not reported, "The recent on-field skirmishes in the West Indies that have failed to stimulate the ICC officials compared to the ball tampering episode of Shoaib Akhtar that has been given credence even though proper rules and procedures were not followed. Ball tampering is a Level 2 offence. So is sledging. Both rules are to be interpreted by the Match Referee. In the West Indies, recently it was proved beyond doubt that there was a just and undeniable case of a Level 2 offence regarding sledging, involving Glenn McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan. Surprisingly, no action was taken either by the umpires or the Match Referee."

In case of Shoaib Akhtar, the Match Referee had relied heavily on TV pictures whereas McGrath/Sarwan case with TV evidence of a misdemeanor was deemed not fit for reporting as Level 2 offence.

Rameez further clarified the position of Shoaib Akhtar with regard to speculations that he was caught for tampering with the ball, "Ball tampering is an offence which invokes certain actions which are: a) change of the ball immediately, b) five penalty runs to the opponent. In case of Shoaib Akhtar, neither one of these actions were invoked. In fact, the ball was changed in the 43rd over whereas the report was made in the 29th over. The change in the ball was because it was discoloured. Shoaib's action of scratching/cleaning the ball was considered an attempt of changing the condition of the ball by the Match Referee. Hence, it should be understood that there is a wide difference between actually doing something and attempting to do something which is relatively a lesser crime. Still, I do not wish to defend the act of Shoaib. My only attempt is to put the record straight."

Elaborating on the different sets of standards Rameez stated: "Sledging and ball tampering are bracketed under Level 2 offence. Thereby, the seriousness of each is equal. It seems strange that while one offence is pursued so seriously (Shoaib Akhtar) that the 3rd umpire also gets involved, the other offence (McGrath/Sarwan) goes unnoticed. If TV is considered a fact-finding mission, then it has to be universally followed as part of the standard playing conditions applicable universally."

Rameez Raja further argued that in case of Shoaib Akhtar, the match referee had relied heavily on television pictures although the law states that the umpires were duty-bound to check the ball after every over or during the course of the over.

Rameez further mentioned that this matter will be discussed at the ICC meetings in London next month.

Samiul Hasan
General Manager - Media
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26 May 2003