Cricket: Wasim returns to captaincy ahead of report

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The Independent Online
WASIM AKRAM has been re-appointed captain of Pakistan, despite the fact that the Pakistani government inquiry's verdict on match-fixing has yet to be announced.

Wasim says he is set to take legal action against those who accused him of taking bribes. He looks certain to be cleared of all charges against him but will have to wait a further 48 hours before he knows the full verdict. However, he has been cleared to take charge of Pakistan on their mini-series against the West Indies in Toronto.

"If my lawyers tell me that it is the right thing to do then I will be taking some kind of action," Wasim said at the Pakistan High Commission in London yesterday. "If it is a positive thing to do then I will do it. They have said nothing that is true and it has been very damaging to Pakistan cricket."

Wasim dismissed suggestions there would be a problem when his side tours Australia at the end of the year. "There won't be any kind of problem with the Australian team. My name did not come up with Mark Waugh and Shane Warne. I don't have anything against them and I think things will be just fine."

Wasim also backed the Pakistan Cricket Board for the way it handled the affair despite his suspension which forced him out of cricket for three months. The PCB decided it should fully investigate the matter before it allowed its World Cup captain to return to the international fold.

"They have done the right things in my opinion. Now the matter is over and Pakistan can go forward," he said. "For the last three years there has been discussion all the time over this and now it has been brought to a finish. Now, if we lose, people can't say that the game was fixed."

"We do not know what is in the report at the moment," said the PCB chairman, Mujib ur Rehman Khan. "However Wasim is allowed to play for Pakistan again." He then criticised those who have brought the allegations claiming that if they were proved false, they would be dealt with severely.

Wasim flies to Toronto today to join up with a squad which includes Aamir Sohail, one of those who gave evidence to the inquiry. Aamir retracted his original statements that match-fixing had happened.

Wasim claims it will not affect team spirit. "I have not got a problem with Aamir. We may not be friends away from the pitch but when it comes to captaining Pakistan, I will be neutral and get the team to be the best they can."