PCB plays down Akhtar outburst on free-hit rule

Published: Saturday, July 14, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan on Saturday dismissed fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar's criticism of a new no-ball rule as his personal opinion, saying the change was endorsed at a high-level meeting.

"The free hit rule after a front foot no-ball in one-day cricket was endorsed at ICC (International Cricket Council) meeting and Pakistan agreed to the change in the rule," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) director of operations Zakir Khan told reporters.

Akhtar on Friday urged the ICC to reconsider the new bowling rule, which allows a free hit in case of a front foot no-ball in one-day cricket, saying it was harsh on bowlers.

The batsman cannot be dismissed on the free hit unless he is run out.

But Khan disagreed, saying the new rule had been widely tested.

"The new regulation has been used in domestic cricket in England, Australia and South Africa and has worked. The basic idea is to ensure the game is not slowed down, something that happens when bowlers bowl no-balls," said Khan, himself a former fast bowler.

The ICC's Cricket Management Committee suggested the change to make one-day cricket more attractive and it was approved by the ICC board last month. The rule will be effective from October this year.

"If less time is wasted the players' break between the innings will be the right length - 45 minutes - giving them more time for recovery and the idea has been universally popular with spectators," said Khan.

Dope tests on Twenty20 players: PCB will conduct out-of-competition dope tests on the 30 players they have named in their preliminary squad for the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in September.

A senior board official said on Saturday the dope tests would be conducted soon as part of Pakistan's zero tolerance policy against drugs in sports.

Pakistan faced a embarrassing drugs scandal last year when their fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif failed out-of-competition tests before the Champions Trophy in India in October.

The two, who tested positive for nandrolone, were initially banned but were later exonerated of all charges and had their bans lifted by an appeals panel.

"We have decided to have dope tests on all 30 of our players in the preliminary squad because we just want to avoid any more incidents and also because we remain committed to the International Cricket Council (ICC) strict anti-doping policy in the sport," Zakir Khan, director of cricket operations told reporters.

Both Shoaib and Asif have been included in the Twenty20 preliminary squad.


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