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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Afridi ban fitting end to disastrous series

"Ok if you are going to do it, do it properly," could have been one of the crazy thoughts going through Shahid Afridi's mind when he bit the ball during the final one-day international against Australia.

Watching the match live I was stunned when the TV replays caught Afridi in the act. This was no discreet altering of the ball with a bottle top, or something akin to Michael Atherton's infamous dirt in the pocket incident. No, this was Afridi biting the ball on several occasions before handing it back to the bowler and then acting surprised when the umpires picked up on it.

His excuse is even better - "I was trying to smell it and how it was feeling," he told an Australian TV reporter. Later he was full of remorse when he realised the TV company had pictures of his teeth scuffing the ball. He is a supremely talented player with over more than 200 matches under his belt, but it was an astonishingly irresponsible act from a man who should be an example to others.
It is not the first time the Pakistan side has come under fire for ball-tampering.  Their furious reaction to Darrell Hair's decision to award penalty runs for alleged ball tampering in a 2006 test with England suggested they were being unfairly targeted and had a unjust reputation for illegally altering the ball, but Afridi's bite has brought the issue to the fore again.
An immediate two match suspension has been handed down for Afridi's actions.
After they were whitewashed in the test series, a 5-0 one-day series defeat saw Pakistan chief of selectors Iqbal Qasim quit. He was the third chief of selectors to leave in 12 months. The side will surely be relieved that only a Twenty/20 match remains before they can pack up and go home to lick their wounds.
However, Australia's Twenty/20 cricket odds suggest that Pakistan will be returning home without a win.
In horse racing news, trial races for the Cheltenham Festival 2010 have been taking place recently and this has had a dramatic impact on the betting for the event.

Guest post by Tom Mallows

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