I can~~t live with racist branding, says exonerated Latif

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has cleared Pakistan wicket- keeper Rashid Latif of the charge of alleged racial abuse at Australia's Adam Gilchrist, Pakistan manager Shaharyar Khan said on Wednesday. The Australians reported to the ICC that during their World Cup encounter at the Wanderers on Tuesday, batsman Latif turned around to Gilchrist and allegedly shouted an obscene racial remark. After the match, ICC match referee Clive Lloyd summoned the two players and the respective managers, Steve Bernard of Australia and Khan for a hearing. A subsequent hearing ordered by Lloyd on Wednesday cleared Latif of any wrongdoing. "We are very happy that the matter has been resolved," Khan, a former diplomat, said. "We were always behind Latif and convinced that he would never have been involved in such things. It was a very disturbing time for our entire World Cup squad and for Latif especially." Khan stressed he did not have anything against the Australians since the Pakistanis "were here not only to win cricket matches but win hearts as well." The soft-spoken Latif said he was relieved to be cleared of the charges. "I can't tell you how relieved and happy I am," he said. "Can you imagine living the rest of my life branded a racist. I am not that kind of a person and will never be. "I have not hard feelings against Gilchrist or any one. I just want to concentrate on doing well at the World Cup." The manager said Latif will not be speaking on the subject. The ICC was still to issue an official statement on the incident, nor was there any comment from the Australians. Lloyd was also the match referee who handed Australia's Darren Lehmann a five-match suspension for a racial remark against Sri Lanka last month. If Lloyd had found Latif guilty, and handed him a five-match suspension as he did in Lehmann's case, Pakistan would have been without a specialist wicket-keeper for the key matches ahead against England and India. The Australian complaint came a few hours after Pakistani captain Waqar Younis was ordered out of the attack for sending down a vicious beamer at Australia's century- maker Andrew Symonds. Amidst a heated exchange between the two players, angry English umpire David Shepherd ordered Waqar out of the attack while spinner Shahid Afridi sent down the remaining three deliveries. Waqar apologised for the beamer at a media conference after the match. There were also reports of an altercation between Pakistan quick Shoaib Akhtar and Australia batsman Matthew Hayden after the match which the World Champion Australia won by 82 runs.

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