PCB advises fast bowlers to be more cautious

Published: Thursday, September 7, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore: From meeting lawyers in the Inzamam-ul Haq ball-tampering case to advising its bowlers, particularly Shoaib Akhtar, to be careful while handling the ball, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is making an extra effort to make sure that the team steers clear of any controversy in the remainder of its tour of England.

The advisory to be careful with the ball comes after cameras showed Shoaib scuffing the ball's seam in the Rose Bowl ODI sparking a fresh controversy on ball-tampering. The speedster was suspected of messing with the ball but was cleared after it came out that he was only trying to remove the dirt on the seam.

''We are sure that our players have done nothing wrong. But the fact is that our players have been placed under a microscope since The Oval Test and there is no other way for us than to be very careful,'' team manager Zaheer Abbas told The News.

''Shoaib was just trying to clear some dust from the seam of the ball. The cameras seemed to portray a different story and everybody was talking about it. It was so unnecessary,'' he added.

Zaheer advised the Pakistani players to go straight to the umpires in case of any problem with the ball and desist from doing anything which may raise doubts.

''It is better to consult the umpires whenever such a problem arises,'' he said.

The two-month long tour has been marred in controversy ever since the forfeited Oval Test, in which the Pakistani team was accused of tampering with the ball. The Inzamam-led side refused to come out after tea in protest and umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove decided to forfeit the match in England's favour.

Inzamam is now facing an ICC hearing on charges of ball-tampering and bringing the game into disrepute and may be banned for eight ODIs or four Tests if found guilty.

Zaheer said he doesn't want any further controversy to be attached to the team.

''We have been playing really well since the start of the (ODI) series and would want to keep our focus on cricket rather than controversy,'' Zaheer said.

Meanwhile, Inzamam, Zaheer, spinner Danish Kaneria, pacer Umer Gul and met the lawyers hired by the PCB to defend the Pakistan skipper and discussed ways to get the Multan-player cleared of the charges.

''It was a routine meeting. The lawyers want to probe every aspect of the picture in a bid to put up a strong case when the time comes,'' Zaheer said.

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