Inzamam got away easy, feels Richie Benaud

Published: Monday, October 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Inzamam-ul Haq has got away lightly for bringing the game into disrepute and the Pakistan captain deserved a Test ban instead of the four-ODI ban for his ''crass and unbecoming'' behaviour in the forfeited Oval Test, feels former Australian Test captain Richie Benaud.

''Yes. Why didn't he get a Test ban? His proven offence of 'bringing the game into disrepute' was committed in a Test. Instead, he got the minimum One-day ban of four matches when the minimum Test ban was 10 days of cricket,'' Benaud told the News of the World in reply to a query whether the ICC has given a light punishment to Inzamam.

''The reasoning -- it would have a more immediate effect in the Champions Trophy -- is lame. He could still captain Pakistan in the final,'' the former Australian Test star added.

Benaud said the Inzamam and Pakistan's behaviour in the infamous Test match were unacceptable and their protest against umpires' decision brought the game into disrepute.''A crass and unbecoming (behaviour). To protest against umpires' decisions and refuse to bring your team on to the field certainly brought the game of cricket into disrepute,'' he said.

Benaud refused to blame umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove for the forfeiture of the match following the ball-tampering row and said Pakistan were solely responsible for the fiasco.''The Test would have continued if Pakistan had resumed play,'' he argued.

The Aussie said the controversy has eroded umpires' power and felt the ICC would do no good by allowing countries to choose match officials.''Undoubtedly. And it will be eroded even more if countries try to pick and choose which umpires are allowed to officiate in their matches,'' he said.

Benaud said Hair had not acted alone in the match but has been blamed entirely and expressed doubts over his compatriot's future as an international umpire.

''If fairness is part of the criteria, he and Billy Doctrove will umpire again in international matches. But it depends on the degree of 'if'. There are two men with stilettos between their shoulders -- the Pakistan manager, Zaheer Abbas, who has now been sacked and Hair, the ICC umpire. But at no point in any of this has Hair acted alone,'' he pointed out.

The former spinner said the ICC verdict, which acquitted Inzamam of ball-tampering charges, will have a negative impact on other umpires, who may not act with authority.

''More to the point, will all (or any) umpires in future have the courage to officiate according to the laws after this hearing,'' he responded when asked about the future of umpires after the ICC hearing.

Describing ball-tampering a serious offence, Benaud said demands to scrap the law against the menace should not be considered as it will be unfair to the batsmen. Benaud said the law needs to be strenghthened further by introdusing a clause which allows only bowlers to change the condition of the ball.''Some people believe ball-tampering should now be permitted in the game.They forget the ball belongs to the players in both teams.But if scuffing the ball becomes legal for bowlers, why can't batsmen belt the shine off it with their bats when they come out,'' he said.

''You can stop ball-tampering instantly by introducing a law that says: Only the bowler shall be permitted to polish the ball. It wouldn't be too hard to identify the culprits,'' he added.

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