Wasim faces threat of ban under ICC ruling

On the eve of England's first tour of Pakistan in 13 years, Wasim Akram, the all-rounder and former captain of the country, could be further penalised for his alleged role in match-fixing. Under new guidelines laid down last June, Wasim could be looking at anything from a two-year to life ban, the penalty imposed on Hansie Cronje just two days ago.

On the eve of England's first tour of Pakistan in 13 years, Wasim Akram, the all-rounder and former captain of the country, could be further penalised for his alleged role in match-fixing. Under new guidelines laid down last June, Wasim could be looking at anything from a two-year to life ban, the penalty imposed on Hansie Cronje just two days ago.

The move though, would only come if the International Cricket Council's Code of Conduct Commission, set up under Lord Griffiths in January 1999, recommends such action to the ICC at next week's executive board meeting here. As yet there are no whispers that such a course will be taken, though neither are there any clues that it will not.

Wasim, who has been playing here for Pakistan in the ICC Knockout tournament, was fined £5,000 by Justice Malik Qayyum when his report was first made public last May. Since then, Lord Griffiths and his panel of nine have been reviewing the findings. With powers to advise the ICC to either endorse, change, or ask the board of the country involved to re-investigate the matter, their decision should be known next Tuesday.

Other Pakistan Test players fined by Qayyum, such as Mushtaq Ahmed (£3,500), Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saeed Anwar (all £3,000 for non-co-operation), could also be affected. And yet, whatever the recommendations made by the CCC, they are unlikely to be met in time to affect England's tour which begins next week.

The most likely action, providing the CCC feels the punishments were too lenient, is to ask the Pakistan Cricket Board to look into the matter again.

Match-fixing is a sensitive matter and it would come as no great surprise if the PCB claimed that the Qayyum report was an exhaustive and definitive document on the matter and refused to comply.

If that was the case the ICC could expel Pakistan. More likely is that the PCB will be asked to place any loose ends accruing from the Qayyum report under the umbrella of a new investigation, due to be carried out into allegations that two of Pakistan's matches in last year's World Cup - against Bangladesh at Northampton and India at Old Trafford - were fixed.

Providing that did happen, the ICC's anti-corruption unit, now up and running under Sir Paul Condon, the former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, would be on hand to help that investigation, as well as any others going on elsewhere.

So far the ICC has set aside $4m (£2.7m) for the unit, to be manned and operated by what the ICC is calling "people with high calibre skills and contacts around the world". It is a big commitment and one the ICC president, Malcolm Gray, feels will be worth the investment.

"We at the ICC are serious about corruption," he said at a forum here yesterday. "Any allegations with substance will be investigated by the unit, which will be independent and without interference."

The unit, which will report its findings to Lord Griffiths and the CCC, is dealing with what Gray refers to as "past events". Even more important, he feels, will be the future.

To begin securing that, the players will be given a one-page declaration, stating whether or not they have ever been involved in corruption, and an envelope, which will be addressed to Condon.

"We need to ensure that the next cricketer doesn't get involved," Gray added. "There is big money in the game and the world is corrupt. We need to be able to counsel and educate young cricketers to avoid that.

"We also need to put in place processes that recognise that first approach and deal with it."

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