Karachi: Pakistani cricket officials and players on November 8 rallied behind fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar after his bowling action was again questioned by an international referee.
"I don't know why this issue is raised time and again when a report by experts has cleared Akhtar," Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia said."Sri Lankan spinner Muthiah Muralitharan was cleared from the same research centre as Akhtar and we have sent a report of that to the International Cricket Council," he said.The ICC said on Wednesday that ICC match referee Denis Lindsay and umpires Rudi Koertzen of South Africa and George Sharp of England had cast doubt on Akhtar's bowling action after the Champions Trophy in Sharjah that Pakistan won last week.Akhtar, 26, playing for Pakistan for the first time since June, took three wickets in the final against Sri Lanka.ICC referee John Reid of New Zealand first reported Akhtar's action in December 1999.After he was cleared in March 2000, New Zealand umpires Doug Cowie and Steve Dunn reported Akhtar's action in March 2001 during Pakistan's 2-3 loss in a One-day series."It's mind boggling, when Akhtar is cleared once, why raise heaven time and again," said fellow fast bowler Wasim Akram."Let him play cricket freely because he is exciting and people want to watch him."Akhtar and Australian Brett Lee, whose bowling action was also cleared last year, are regarded as the fastest in the world at present.Both have approached speeds of 99 miles (158 kilometres) an hour and could be the first to breach the 100mph (160kph) barrier."I am bound by the ICC code, otherwise I can say that there are a number of bowlers currently playing international cricket who have more doubtful actions," Akram said.Experts at the Australian Institute of Human Resources, Human Movement Department in Perth helped Akhtar correct his action in April and then cleared him, saying in a report that his bowling arm was deformed at birth giving an illusion of throwing."The match referee did not say anything to me in Sharjah except he said he wanted the ICC to have another look at Akhtar's action," Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed said."These allegations will be rejected on the basis of the experts' report," he said.Former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam said the law of illegal delivery needed revising."This means every other spinner chucks," Alam said. "The ICC is putting needless pressure on a youngster who is very exciting to watch, they have frustrated him time and again."Akhtar will now face the second phase of the ICC process on illegal delivery.An expert named by the ICC will work on Akhtar's action. If reported again within 12 months of the expert's work, an ICC review panel could ban the bowler for a year if they still find the action illegal.