|Player:||DB Hair, Inzamam-ul-Haq, BR Doctrove, G Boycott, RS Madugalle, RA Woolmer, Waqar Younis|
DateLine: 28th September 2006
The crucial two-day disciplinary hearing of Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul Haq began in London on Wednesday behind closed doors at the Oval, the very scene of the high drama that followed the ball tampering charge being laid against his side. A verdict will be out not before 24 hours of the hearing coming to an end and till then the fate of the Pakistan captain will continue to hang in the balance.
The hearing will see Inzamam defend himself against the two charges laid by umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove relating to ball tampering and bringing the game into disrepute during the fourth Test against England at the Oval last month. The Pakistani side is fielding three expert witnesses -- Geoffrey Boycott, Simon Hughes and John Hampshire, the former Test cricketer turned umpire. All three have examined various photographs of the Oval ball and their statements could have a huge bearing on the verdict to be announced by ICC Chief Match Referee and arbitrator Ranjan Madugalle.
Coach Bob Woolmer and Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shaharyar Khan are also present to assist Inzamam besides a top-notch legal team.
The media frenzy over the controversy was gaining heat with reports on the hearing featured prominently across the two leading dailies 'The Times' and 'The Guardian'. Under the headline "ICC facing recipe for anarchy as Inzamam awaits fate", 'The Times' said although the heat had gone out of the issue, from the ICC's viewpoint it was important to establish that the authority of the umpire could not be undermined. "...If a precedent is set that a Test captain can disregard the umpires without penalty, it would be a recipe for anarchy," it said.
The report also said the outcome of the hearing will have a bearing on the future of Hair. "The other matter that may depend on the outcome concerns the future of Hair.... Whether or not to appoint Hair -- a strong, fair, but in the view of many sub-continental cricketers, overbearing official -- is delicate in the extreme."
'The Guardian' said evidence had emerged strongly suggesting that Inzamam was persuaded by others to protest against ball-tampering. Quoting a dressing room source, it said Inzamam came off the field indignant and apparently still uncertain why the ball had been changed. "The refusal to take the field may not have been his idea but that of Waqar Younis, the touring team's bowling coach or one of the other senior figures in or around the dressing room at the time," it said.