Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 22 News List

ICC chief flies in to sort out Pakistan tour chaos

RESCUE MISSION Malcolm Speed was reportedly on his way to London in a bid to prevent the cancelation of Pakistan's tour following the ball-tampering dispute

AFP , LONDON

Pakistani cricket fans burn an effigy of Australian umpire Darrell Hair in Lahore, Pakistan, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed was said to be flying in to London from the governing body's Dubai headquarters to help broker a deal that could keep Pakistan's tour of England on track after the fall-out from last week's ball-tampering controversy at The Oval.

"We have an indication from our lawyers that they have information Malcolm Speed is likely to be coming," said Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan at the team's London hotel on Wednesday after meetings ended with the future of the upcoming one-day series against England still uncertain.

Officials from both boards met before Pakistan's players, who earlier in the day had taken part in a closed training session at Lord's, held a meeting amongst themselves as they too considered the fall out from the ball-tampering row which cut short last weekend's fourth and final Test.

Pakistan had threatened to boycott the five-match one-day series if captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was banned as a result of charges of ball-tampering and bringing cricket into disrepute following their forfeiture of the fourth Test against England at The Oval.

A disciplinary hearing was due to take place today in London but was postponed on Wednesday because of the unavailability of ICC chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle, who had been due to hear the case.

In a statement Speed said he thought it would be "extremely difficult" to reschedule the hearing during the one-day series proper which starts on Wednesday in Cardiff.

Later in the day England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman David Morgan met with Pakistan counterpart Shaharyar and Inzamam for more than 30 minutes with the Welshman refusing to reveal afterwards what had been discussed.

Inzamam faces the possibility of a two-match limited-overs ban for ball-tampering and an eight-match suspension for bringing the game into disrepute -- but it is the lesser charge, with its associations with cheating which is causing most anxiety to Pakistan.

Despite the delay in Madugalle's arrival, the lack of a new date for the hearing and Speed's earlier comments, Pakistan were optimistic that Inzamam's case could be considered before the one-day series.

And Shaharyar stressed Madugalle was the man they wanted in charge.

"Both England and Pakistan agree on Madugalle. We all know he is a very fair and seasoned referee," he said. "Our preference is for him. If not I am sure we can agree someone else. If Madugalle can make it a few days later it is fine. That will preferably be before the one-day series."

Some reports on Wednesday suggested Pakistan wanted former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd to stand in for Madugalle and chair a Monday hearing.

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