Latif apologises for raising match-fixing fears

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Rashid Latif has apologised for making renewed calls to the International Cricket Council to stop match-fixing. His contrition for writing an open letter urging the ICC "to take immediate practical steps" may just save his job as Pakistan's captain.

The Pakistan Cricket Board were embarrassed when Latif's letter was published on a website last week. Officials had no idea that he was writing it, and accused him of digging up an issue that was "dead and buried". The ICC were also caught unawares by Latif's demands over what he described as "fancy fixing", and will respond this week.

Samiul Hasan of the PCB said: "Rashid has told the board how much he regrets writing as he did, and has assured us he will be making no further comments on the matter. We now have to wait to see whether we will be taking disciplinary action against him, and are waiting for advice from the ICC."

Rashid's comments had to be taken seriously because of his noble stance over match- fixing in the Nineties, when, it is now believed, the practice was rife in the Pakistan team. He retired from international cricket for several seasons but has been made captain of a new Pakistan team who have shed several famous names.

It had been generally supposed that the ICC had tackled the scandal with the establishment of their Anti-Corruption Unit headed by Lord Condon, and the appointment of five worldwide security officers attached to international teams.

But Rashid insisted that while the results of matches were no longer being rigged, the ICC had an obligation to eliminate "fancy fixing". At first, it seemed that Rashid might have opened yet another can of worms. The PCB reacted harshly, and it was clear they were minded to sack their captain.

But Rashid has probably got it wrong. "Fancy fixing" was recognised, by another name, in Condon's original draft report two years ago. He described corrupt incidents in a match as "occurrence fixing" and listed nine specific aspects, from the outcome of the toss to the number of wides being bowled in a designated over.

The ICC are insistent they have not dropped their guard. Latif is especially concerned about run-scoring in the first 15 overs, when he claims that the fielding restrictions give opening batsmen the opportunity to score fewer runs than expected. He urges the ICC to keep fielding restrictions (four fielders within the 30-yard circle) throughout a one-day match.

When they received Rashid's letter, the ICC were dumbfounded. Their response is likely to remind him that he can express his concerns and offer his solution at the international captains' meeting in September.

Hasan said: "There are two angles. We recognise how sensitive Rashid is about this issue and what a man of integrity he is. But we also have to find out if he has breached the regulations."

The apology will probably suffice. Rashid is known to be passionate. After a spat with Adam Gilchrist in the World Cup, in which the Australian was accused and cleared of making a racial remark, Rashid said he would sue. The next day, he withdrew the threat.

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