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Saturday, July 17, 1999 Published at 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK

World: South Asia

Pakistan cricket board suspended

Pakistan's supporters were left to ponder their World Cup defeat

The president of Pakistan has suspended the entire Pakistan Cricket Board following allegations that the national side deliberately lost last month's World Cup final.

President Mohammad Rafiq Tarrar, who is also patron of the cricket board, replaced the cricket board's management team with a two-member ad hoc committee.

[ image: Angry reaction: Pakistanis burned posters of Wasim Akram]
Angry reaction: Pakistanis burned posters of Wasim Akram
But suspended PCB chairman Khalid Mehmood has denied the allegations against the team.

"The team has performed very well except for one bad game. You cannot sack the whole board for it," he said.

"I always defended the players and I am ready to defend them even now. They are wonderful players and a very talented side. None of the matches in the World Cup was fixed. It is ridiculous."

The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones: "The players deny wrongdoing"
The new ad hoc committee is headed by Mujeeb-ur Rehman - a brother of Senator Saif-ur Rehman, who is chairman of the government's Accountability Bureau. This is the body which is investigating charges against players involved in last month's World Cup one-day tournament in England.

The other member of the committee is Javed Zaman, a cousin of former cricket hero Imran Khan.

Widespread protests

[ image: Match flashback: Australia's Shane Warne sees off Pakistan's Moin Khan]
Match flashback: Australia's Shane Warne sees off Pakistan's Moin Khan
Pakistan lost to Australia by eight wickets in the recent World Cup final, prompting allegations that some of the players had not only deliberately lost some matches, but also that they had been gambling and drinking late at night rather than preparing for their games.

The players vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

The heavy defeat triggered widespread protests from Pakistan cricket fans who burned effigies of skipper Wasim Akram and branded the cricketers as "traitors and gamblers".

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif - a keen cricket player who bats for a few hours each weekend - indicated that he wanted to find out exactly what happened during the tournament in London.


Khalid Mehmood: "The suspension did not come as a surprise"
Ousted chairman Mr Mehmood on Saturday expressed the fear that leading players would now become scapegoats.

"Logically, if the top hierachy believes that the match was deliberately thrown, then the players should be the next target," Mr Mehmood said.

"My perception is that the board has been suspended because of match-fixing allegations which are not only unproven but false and baseless.

"I think it will be the main issue in days to come and some of the frontline players might be made scapegoats to justify the sacking of the board," he added.

It is the second time this decade the country's cricket board has been suspended. The first occasion was in January 1994 after a change in governments.

Over the past few years, there have been many inquiries into Pakistani cricket but none has ever produced any firm conclusions about recurrent match fixing allegations.

Many Pakistanis believe that had their team won the World Cup, then the inquiries and investigations currently under way would have been forgotten.

Wasim Akram, along with batsmen Ejaz Ahmed and Salim Malik, were implicated in an interim report by the cricket board into match fixing last September.

The judicial commission headed by Lahore High Court judge, Malik Mohammad Qayyum, is expected to submit its findings by next month.

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