Pakistan brims with anger at verdict

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The Independent Online

Inzamam-ul-Haq may have been smiling in London yesterday after the verdict in his International Cricket Council hearing, but there were few smiles in Pakistan. Even as Inzamam proclaimed the decision a "victory for Pakistan", his countrymen were denouncing the verdict.

There were street demonstrations in Inzamam's home town, Multan, and in Lahore. The former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram denounced the Pakistan board for not appealing. "When the ball-tampering charges have been dismissed then why the ban," he said. "Pakistan were only reacting to a false accusation of being cheats." But the real target of the anger was the other main player, Darrell Hair. "It's not Inzamam's punishment people are objecting to," said Sajjad Hafeez, deputy sports editor of The Nation. "It's the fact that Darrell Hair was not punished."

When the row first blew up, it was the accusation of ball-tampering that caused outrage in Pakistan, so many observers expected Pakistanis to be placated after the team were cleared of those charges. But ordinary Pakistanis are incensed that while Inzamam has been banned, the hearing took no action against Hair. Former Pakistan players yesterday called for him to be sacked from the elite panel of international umpires.

"The ruling of the adjudicator means that Hair was wrong in accusing the Pakistanis of ball-tampering without proper evidence," the former captain Rashid Latif said. "I think it would be advisable and sensible for the ICC to now drop Hair," Javed Miandad added.

The Pakistan cricket establishment knew Inzamam could not escape some form of punishment after the team refused to take the field in the fourth Test, says Hafeez, but ordinary fans do not see it that way. "There is a history to accusations of ball-tampering against Pakistan," he said. "In the Nineties when Waqar and Wasim were very successful, there were accusations and people here felt Pakistan's success was being undermined. Now we see this letter from Darrell Hair asking for money, and people want to know why he isn't being punished."