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Thatscricket - News - Cricket: ICC spikes PCB plea on Akhtar action

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday confirmed that it would not treat the reporting of Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar as a special case, according to an official press release.[an error occurred while processing this directive]In replying to a personal letter from Brigadier Munawar Rana of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which has been made public on the Board's Website, Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed said, "Having discussed your request with the ICC president, I am unable to agree to treat this as a special case outside the carefully established process to deal with matters of this kind."Speed's letter also highlights the fact that the original ICC process for dealing with bowlers with suspect actions was changed, largely in response to the PCB's unhappiness with it, following the first reporting and suspension of Shoaib Akhtar in Australia in 1999. The new three-stage process was introduced in December 2000, with the full support of all members, including the PCB. "Having expressed concern over the old process and supported the change to the new regime, it is very disappointing to find that the PCB is now querying the implementation of Stage 2 with regard to Shoaib Akhtar," Malcolm Speed said. The letter from the PCB refers extensively to the findings of a report compiled in Western Australia when the bowler was in Stage 1 of the new system. This was accepted and endorsed by the PCB as evidence of the legality of Shoaib's action. Commenting on the report Malcolm Speed said, "It is self evident that a finding by the PCB in April 2001 that its bowler's action is not illegal, does not guarantee that it will always be so. Clearly, the ICC and other Boards are not bound by the internal decisions of the PCB."Adding emphasis to this point he added, "A positive finding under Stage 1 of the process is not a licence to throw. Every bowler's action is open to continual scrutiny and review and this is clearly catered for by Stages 2 and 3 of the process". The ICC letter confirms that although Michael Holding has been appointed to work with and advice Akhtar, it cannot and would not seek to force thebowler to undergo counselling. If the PCB formally declines to comply with the Stage 2 process, the ICC would notify all umpires and referees of that decision. This would effectively conclude Stage 2 and Shoaib could continue to play, having forfeited the opportunity to work with one of the world's greatest and most knowledgeable fast bowlers."The reporting or calling of bowlers has historically been a highly charged and sensitive issue. One of the major objectives of the new system is to take a much less confrontational approach to the matter and to maximise the chances of a player alleged to have an illegal action to be rehabilitated and stay in the game. "The ICC also has a wider duty to protect the interests of the game and the players. This extends to players alleged to have an illegal action as well as those who have to bat against bowlers with allegedly illegal actions," Malcolm Speed concluded. Discussions are continuing between the ICC and PCB to resolve the issue.

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