Cricket: Imran claims reach Richards

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The Independent Online
THERE is always a pile of unwanted post when you get back from holiday and for David Richards, chief executive of the International Cricket Council, yesterday was no exception.

At his Lord's office was a letter from the former Pakistan batsman, Younis Ahmed, alleging all manner of ball-tampering by Imran Khan. Expected was a letter from the all-rounder himself enclosing his resignation as Pakistan's representative on the ICC's cricket committee.

Imran points out his resignation is not related to Younis's allegation, made in a Sunday newspaper, that he saw Imran use a bottle top to scratch the ball in a Test against India in Jaipur in 1987. Younis also claims Imran told him previously in detail how he had used Vaseline and a mini-screwdriver to increase the ball's movement.

The allegations, said Imran, are 'complete fabrication' and 'concocted nonsense'. He said he intends to take legal action.

Richards said he had yet to hear from Imran, but regarded his resignation as 'an entirely appropriate action'. He could not comment on Younis's letter until he had spoken to Clyde Walcott, the committee chairman. Uncorroborated, Younis's request for a special inquiry is likely to be rejected.

However, since one of the committee's special subjects is ball- tampering, Imran, who said he resigned because it would be inappropriate to remain after admitting a solitary case of ball- tampering, may be called as an expert witness. Yesterday he re-iterated his claim that lifting the seam was widespread. .

Imran added that his admission was made to end the maligning of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. He points out that, for decades, seam lifting has been accepted in practice, if not in the laws, while using substances to increase swing has been almost as common.

The affair has now been rumbling on for two years with only Allan Lamb penalised - and that for talking out of turn. If it is to stop, a firm lead from the ICC is needed. There is little point in retrospective action, but closer scrutiny from umpires - with the extension of the English practice of ball-inspections every over - and ferocious punishing of future transgressors should be instituted.