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PCB still undecided on Latif
- Gen. Zia-Rameez meeting scheduled for tomorrow

Calcutta: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) hasn’t yet decided whether to seek an explanation from regular captain and wicketkeeper Rashid Latif on the ‘cheating’ episode in the Multan Test versus Bangladesh.

Latif has been banned for five ODIs and will be eligible for selection only after the ongoing limited overs series. Match Referee Mike Procter, it may be recalled, booked him for unfairly claiming a catch (Alok Kapali’s off Yasir Ali) and setting a poor example as captain.

Incidentally, Latif had the right to appeal within 24 hours of the Match Referee’s verdict (on Sunday), but declined to do so. It’s not clear whether the PCB advised him not to pursue an issue which has dented his and — more important — Pakistan’s image.

The PCB, though, was quick to elevate Inzamam-ul-Haq as stand-in captain. For now, Kamran Akmal is wearing the big gloves.

“Actually, neither the chairman (Lt Gen. Tauqir Zia) nor I have had the opportunity to discuss the matter… Having said that, we will be meeting on Sunday, during the Lahore ODI, and a stand could be taken,” PCB chief executive Rameez Raja told The Telegraph late on Friday.

For his part, Rameez indicated that Latif’s “clean record” till the Multan episode — something which influenced Procter — won’t be disregarded when Gen. Zia and he deliberate at the Gaddaffi.

It’s another matter that the Match Referee should have judged the incident on merit without flipping through Latif’s CV and being reminded of his role in exposing match-fixers.

“Having played with Latif, I can vouch for his being an honest person… I’m not condoning his act but, at the same time, I’m not convinced he needs to be crucified. Of course, that’s a strictly personal view,” Rameez added.

While Bangladesh called for a Level Four punishment (as listed in the Code of Conduct), Procter chose to treat Latif’s behaviour as being worthy of a Level Three penalty.

For a Level Three offence, the punishment is being banned for between two and four Tests or between four and eight ODIs. The Level Four penalty is much stiffer: A ban of anywhere between five Tests or ten ODIs. Plus, there’s a life ban provision.

Twenty six months ago, by the way, another wicketkeeper — West Indies’ Ridley Jacobs — was banned for three ODIs after winning a dubious stumping appeal against Virender Sehwag in a tri-series in Zimbabwe.

It’s to be seen whether the PCB initiates any action, but the International Cricket Council must consider empowering the third umpire to ‘intervene’ when replays confirm that the on-field gentleman has erred.

Only the short-sighted will argue that such a move will encroach on the on-field umpire’s jurisdiction. Eleven years should really be time enough for a world body to fully embrace technology — not merely experiment with it.

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