|Player:||Inzamam-ul-Haq, Wasim Akram|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 28th September 2006
Cricket captain Inzamam-ul-Haq must automatically be cleared of bringing the game into disrepute if charges of ball tampering do not stick, Pakistan legend Wasim Akram said Thursday.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) will act unfairly if it bans Inzamam just to protect the players' code of conduct, former fast bowler Akram said of a two-day hearing which started in London on Wednesday.
"I strongly feel that the ICC and the umpires will not be able to prove ball-tampering charges against the Pakistan team and since Pakistan's protest was linked to the accusation of tampering they should not ban Inzamam," Akram told AFP.
"I think the ICC will try to have the upper hand and would ban Inzamam to safeguard their code of conduct, but it would be hugely unfair."
Inzamam, 36, is answering disciplinary charges of ball tampering and bringing the game into disrepute after Pakistan refused to take the field in the fourth Test against England at the Oval last month.
Pakistan protested after umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove penalised them five runs for ball tampering. The team was judged to have forfeited the game, the first such case in Test history.
Inzamam faces a big fine and a ban of several matches.
Wasim, 40, said that an unfavourable verdict would be "debatable and one that could be taken to a court of law."
"I would not have waited and would have taken the ICC and umpire Hair to court," he said, adding that his Birmingham-based lawyers were in contact with Inzamam for such an action.
Wasim said a ban on Inzamam would spoil Pakistan's chances of winning the ICC Champions Trophy in India, where the competition begins next month.
"Under Inzamam the team has shown great unity and it's bad to miss your most inspirational figure," he said.
"It would be a huge loss for Pakistan and I hope the Pakistan Cricket Board have done their homework in case Inzamam is banned. They should take a stay order and let the ban be enforced after the trophy," said Wasim.
The former paceman, with 414 Test and a world record 502 one-day wickets, reiterated that controversial Australian Hair should also be penalised for his role in the saga.
Wasim said he feared that it would not be the last time that Pakistan had to defend themselves against tampering charges.
"When Pakistan is involved, everyone sees it as a big issue. We have been accused of tampering since 1992 and this Oval incident won't be the last time," said Wasim, who along with Waqar Younis was accused of tampering on Pakistan's tour of England in 1992 -- the first time tampering charges attained publicity.
"I sincerely hope Pakistan come out clean," he said.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)