Vol. 5 Num 557 Tue. December 20, 2005  

Shabbir banned for a year

Pakistan fast bowler Shabbir Ahmed has been banned from bowling for one year, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said Monday.

Shabbir is the first bowler to be banned from bowling in international cricket for 12 months after an independent assessment by the University of Western Australia (UWA) confirmed he bowled with an illegal action.

The finding comes after Shabbir was reported for the second time under the revised ICC bowling review regulations by the on-field umpires Simon Taufel and Billy Bowden and TV umpire Asad Rauf during the first Test against England in Multan in November.

He was first reported and suspended earlier this year but returned to international cricket following remedial work on his action and a full bio-mechanical analysis that demonstrated that he had made the necessary adjustments to his bowling style.

Having been reported and assessed as bowling illegally for a second time within two years of the first period of suspension, Shabbir has received a mandatory one-year ban.

Shabbir said he was disappointed but vowed to continue the game.

"I am heart-broken. This is like an attempt to end my career," Shabbir told AFP from his hometown of Khanewal in eastern Pakistan.

"I know my captain Inzamamul Haq is behind me, my coach Bob Woolmer is there for support, my teammates are there," he said.

"My cricket board and my countrymen are also there for support, so they will keep me going," he said.

Shabbir, when reported last month, said he had nearly decided to quit the game but support from captain and coach changed his mind.

ICC chief executive officer Malcolm Speed said Shabbir's suspension was an appropriate step.

"While it is regrettable that any player is suspended from international cricket, the suspension is an appropriate step on this occasion," he said.

"It is clear that Shabbir has the capacity to bowl with a legal action but it would seem that on occasion he has the tendency to revert to old habits.

"Having had the opportunity to remedy this flaw but not being able to do so consistently, a suspension for 12 months provides him with the opportunity to permanently address the concerns that have been identified.

"At the same time, it indicates the ICC's seriousness in tackling this issue."

The current process contrasts with previous eras where once a bowler was called for throwing or was suspected of having an illegal action there was often no way back to international cricket.

"I hope that Shabbir will be able to use his time out of the game at international level to get the consistency needed in his action to ensure a successful return to the game," said Speed.

The latest assessment of Shabbir's action was based on examination of footage from the Multan Test in comparison with a University of Western Australia (UWA) laboratory assessment which he underwent in September.

The ICC and the PCB agreed to this as an alternative to submitting Shabbir to another assessment.

Shabbir can appeal to the ICC's specialist Bowling Review Group to seek to overturn the ban. He must lodge a request for such a hearing within 14 days of the PCB's receipt of the assessment of his action.