Pakistani cricketers arrested over drugs find on beach: West Indies tour in doubt after four held in Grenada

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The Independent Online
PAKISTAN'S cricket tour of the West Indies has been thrown into jeopardy after the arrest of four players, including the captain Wasim Akram and vice-captain Waqar Younis, on drugs charges in Grenada.

Akram, Waqar, Aqib Javed and Mushtaq Ahmed, along with two female tourists and a local man, were arrested on the beach at the team's hotel on Thursday night. They were charged with 'being in possession of a controlled drug'. Police said tests would determine the the drug, but it was thought to be marijuana.

They were released on bail and the police commissioner, Nestor Ogilvy, was unable to say when the case would be heard.

Derek Knight, a Queen's Counsel retained by the West Indies Cricket Board of Control to act for the Pakistanis, said police evidence was flimsy and his clients had no case to answer.

Representations were reportedly being made to Mr Ogilvy, the Prime Minister Nicholas Brathwaite and the director of public prosecutions to have the matter resolved speedily.

Khalid Mahmood, the Pakistan team manager, said: 'These charges are baseless. The players are very upset and in a state of shock. At the moment they are not in any state of mind to play cricket tomorrow and at this stage I don't think the tour can go on. I have been in touch with the Pakistan Board and we will go home if this is not sorted out. I'm absolutely certain the boys are innocent.'

Witnesses said the arrest was made by an off-duty policeman jogging on the beach. It appears no drugs were found on the players or anyone in their company but the substances were close by.

The Pakistan team arrived in Grenada a few hours before the incident to play a three-day match against the West Indies Under-23 XI. The first Test of a three-match series gets under way in Port of Spain on Thursday.

The island has recently increased drug penalties and the players could face fines of up to East Caribbean dollars 250,000 (USdollars 92,500).

The Test and County Cricket Board has a strongly worded clause in its code dealing with the use of drugs and may take action against the three Pakistanis under contract to county teams - Akram of Lancashire, Waqar of Surrey and Mushtaq of Somerset.