|ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed
Mumbai: In a belated admission, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday said that Mike Procter — Match Referee for The Oval Test — could have prevented the situation from snowballing into a major crisis by dealing with the matter on the field.
Although the ICC has been stoutly defending its officials in the entire ball-tampering row involving Pakistan, chief executive Malcolm Speed put part of the blame on the Match Referee for the forfeited match without naming him.
“As per the laws of the game, the umpires should be the sole judges of fair and unfair play. The issue is too simple and should have been dealt with by the Match Referee on the field itself,” Speed said at a press conference here on Thursday.
“The Referee, generally a former cricketer, deals with the problems on the field of action at the end of the day’s play by calling the concerned players, the captains and the umpires for a hearing (in his room),” Speed said.
The ICC chief, who was here to launch the official website for the Champions Trophy, also formally announced September 27 and 28 as the dates for the hearing of Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq in London.
Speed said even if no video proofs for or against the alleged code violations by Inzamam were available, there were other ways to deal with the charges.
“The ball (alleged to have been tampered with) is an evidence. The evidence from the umpires and people who have seen the ball (are there),” he said. “There are other evidences. It will all unfold at the hearing,” he said.
However, Speed refused to specify whether any forensic evidence would be looked into to resolve the issue.
“The lawyers of the Pakistan Cricket Board and the ICC are on the job. I don’t know whether forensic evidence will be there,” he said.
“This is a simple issue. It would not get into the top-10 crises that has affected the game like the chucking issue, Bodyline, World Series Cricket and corruption. These were serious issues,” he said.
Speed also said that if the PCB was unhappy with the verdict, it had the right to appeal.
“We at the ICC want the hearing to be impartial and entirely transparent and in conformity with the principles of natural justice.”
Meanwhile, after getting embroiled twice in ball tampering controversies inside a month, Pakistan team management has asked its bowlers, especially speedster Shoaib Akhtar, to be extra careful during the remaining two matches of the current one-day series against England, adds another report from Karachi.
Team manager Zaheer Abbas said that although they were convinced their players had not been involved in ball tampering, the caution had been sounded in the wake of the two controversies.
“We are sure that our players have done nothing wrong,” Zaheer was quoted as saying by a Pakistan daily on Thursday.
“But the fact is that our players have been placed under a microscope since The Oval Test and there is no other way for us than to be very careful,” he added.
On Shoaib’s name coming up in ball tampering during the third one-dayer at Southampton, Zaheer said the Rawalpindi Express’ was only trying to clean the ball.
“Shoaib was just trying to clear some dust from the seam. The cameras seemed to portray a different story and everybody was talking about it. It was unnecessary,” Zaheer said.
The manager said as an extra-caution, the players have been asked go to the umpire when they need to clean the ball. “It is better to consult the umpires whenever such a problem arises,” he said.
The PCB, meanwhile, on Thursday said it would not hesitate to seek support from other countries such as India and the West Indies to back their case if the ball tampering issue was given a political twist.
“We don’t want to make it a political issue. We feel it should be decided as purely a cricket matter. But if it is made political then obviously we could seek the support of other countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies to back our case,” PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said on Thursday.
Shaharyar said he had already received calls of support from the Asian bloc but had held no further talks with them after that.