Cricket: Wasim chosen as Pakistan captain

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WASIM AKRAM and Waqar Younis, the fast bowlers at the centre of last summer's ball-tampering row in England, will take charge of Pakistan following Javed Miandad's removal as captain.

Wasim has been appointed captain and Waqar vice-captain in the wake of the team's indifferent tour of Australasia. They beat New Zealand in a solitary Test but fared badly in two one-day tournaments, losing 2-1 to the Kiwis and finishing behind Australia and West Indies in the World Series Cup.

Mediocre form may be only part of the reason for Javed's removal, however, as Pakistan's behaviour on the field under his captaincy has been criticised. Two players were disciplined during the series in England and, in New Zealand last month, Aqib Javed became the first player to be suspended for flouting cricket's new code of conduct by swearing at an umpire.

In an intriguing statement, a Pakistan Board spokesman said: 'The decision was taken in the greater interest of the country and the nation.' The spokesman added that the change was also in line with the Board's policy of 'selecting a captain who could serve the nation for a longer period.'

At 26, Wasim is nine years younger than Javed, who took up the captaincy 10 months ago when Imran Khan retired after Pakistan's triumph in the World Cup.

Wasim and Waqar, who were accused of ball-tampering by the England batsman Allan Lamb last summer, take up their roles during the one-day tournaments in Sharjah and South Africa. Their first real challenge, though, will come with Pakistan's tour of West Indies, which begins in March. Meanwhile, there is no suggestion that Javed's place as a batsman in the team is in jeopardy.