Wasim swings ball-tampering row to racism

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The Independent Online
WASIM AKRAM has suggested racism and enduring British colonial attitudes as possible reasons for accusations of ball-tampering against him and his fellow Pakistan strike bowler, Waqar Younis, which followed the tourists' summer success against England's cricketers, writes Mark Burton.

'I ought to be happy for winning the Test series against England, but I don't feel happy, I feel offended,' Wasim was quoted as saying by the Amsterdam evening newspaper Het Parool. 'The English are either racists or bad losers, or maybe both.'

The Pakistan touring party stopped over in the Netherlands for a one-day match on their way home after beating England 2-1 in the Test series. Wasim and Waqar have developed a knack of bowling fast deliveries that swing very late, unusual when the ball is old. They took 43 wickets between them in the five Tests at an average of 21.8 runs each.

'There was a certain amount of fair rivalry on the English side building up with every match they lost, but the fact of our being a former British colony certainly added to the racist feelings against us. At least that was the way I felt it,' he added.

Wasim and Waqar are alleged to have scratched the ball's surface during matches, a device their accusers claim alters its aerodynamics and produces late swing. Scientific tests have failed to establish conclusively why a cricket ball swings.

'We have worked very hard to get where we are, and now we are made out to be first-class frauds,' he said. His view of the allegations gained support from India, where there is anger that the former England captain, David Gower, suggested Indian bowlers tampered with the ball during a Test match in 1990.

Bishen Bedi, the former left- arm bowler who was India's team manager on that tour, dismissed Gower's charge as 'absolute rubbish', and also came to the Pakistanis' defence, saying they are 'simply very good'. 'It is the 'sun never sets over the empire' syndrome that the English are finding hard to get rid of,' he said.

Sport, pages 31-34

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