Cricket: Imran blames the class system

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The Independent Online
IMRAN KHAN, the former Pakistan captain, has found a new culprit in the controversy over ball-tampering. He blamed the English class system.

Oxford-educated Imran accused Ian Botham, Fred Trueman and Allan Lamb of lacking breeding after they alleged he cheated during his record-breaking international career.

For 18 months Imran has been one of a group of Pakistanis accused of cheating, with Lamb a principal accuser. The campaign was given new impetus by Imran's recent admission that he did once scratch the ball with a bottle-top in an English county game 14 years ago.

Some commentators have treated his admission with sympathy and Imran, interviewed by an Indian news magazine, India Today, said: 'The people who have taken the rational side in the controversy - Tony Lewis, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Derek Pringle - they are all educated Oxbridge types. Look at the others: Lamb, Botham, Trueman. The difference in class and upbringing makes a difference.'

Lewis, a former England captain, and Martin-Jenkins, a highly respected BBC broadcaster, both write for The Daily Telegraph. Pringle, a former England player, is the cricket correspondent of the The Independent on Sunday and wrote in The Independent in support of Imran. Botham went to a Yeovil Secondary Modern School, Trueman is from mining stock and Lamb is from South Africa. None went to university.

Imran also repeated his contention that ball-tampering was widespread and alleged that racism has contributed to the furore. 'There is a lot of racism in this society,' he said. 'Where is this hatred coming from? I can show you millions of pictures of English players picking the seam. You see Australian cricketers with suncream on their faces. They keep wiping sweat from their faces mixed with the cream and rubbing it on the ball. It is ball-tampering. Scratching the ball is no bigger crime.'