Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan cricket captain, has been charged with bringing the game into disrepute and changing the condition of the ball following his side’s forfeit of the final Test match against England at the Oval in London.
Inzamam will face a disciplinary hearing on Friday convened by the International Cricket Council, the sport’s worldwide governing body. If found guilty, he could face a suspension from future matches on the current tour and be docked his match fee.
At a news conference in London on Monday, Shaharyar Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, called for an independent inquiry into the affair and for a change in the rules for any team accused by an umpire of ball-tampering. He believed the lack of cricket on Monday was down to “miscommunication” between the umpires and his team.
“We feel the forfeit was avoidable if there had been a little bit of flexibility,” he said. “There was a miscommunication with the umpires, because once the protest had been made the team wanted to play and it was only a matter of half a minute.
“My team also deeply regret the way the ball-tampering issue was handled. We felt it was a slur on the reputation of the Pakistan team. There should definitely be a change in protocol because it is highly inflammatory for an umpire to state a team has been cheating.”
Khan added that if the Pakistan captain was banned he hoped the tour would continue, even though he harboured strong reservations about Darrell Hair umpiring his team again.
He said: “Our decision is at the moment we should continue to play on this tour. Darrell Hair is a good umpire but Pakistan team has a problem with his attitude and we’ve requested with the ICC that we don’t play under him again.”
In Islamabad on Monday, a few protesters gathered to support the country’s cricket team shouted: “Long live Pakistani cricketers!” as passions came into the open.
“Our cricketers are good people, it’s the Australian umpire who must be penalised,” yelled Siddique Jan, a teenage college student to a chorus of approval.
Imran Khan, the country’s best known cricketer, joined the debate when he openly condemned the umpire.
“It was indeed a farce most sordid. What we all witnessed at the Oval Sunday was nothing short of shameful and it had many players involved in it, with the Australian umpire Darrel Hair having a lead role,”wrote Mr Khan in a front page comment in The Nation newspaper on Monday.
But one Pakistani official said he was keen to see the country move quickly beyond the controversy. “We are a cricket-loving nation. Nobody in Pakistan wants our team or some of our best players like Inzimam to be away from cricket for too long,” he said.