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Ball tampering row in spotlight

Ted Corbett

Day's play abandoned, discussions on regarding the next step

LONDON: A dispute between the Pakistan players and the umpires resulted in the final Test of the summer at the Oval being abandoned for the day after an allegation that there had been ball tampering during the England second innings.

The match was due to end on Monday but late on Sunday night the Match Referee and umpires were still discussing their next step.

The whole affair began, according to tales sweeping the Oval ground, when an England and Wales Cricket Board official went to the umpires' dressing room in the morning and asked them to watch out for ball tampering by the Pakistan players.

Pakistan annoyed

This action annoyed the Pakistan party and that blew up when the ball was changed half way through the England second innings after the umpires alleged the condition had been changed.

Four hours later the Pakistan team claimed it was willing to play but the umpires, led by the experienced Australian Darrell Hair, insisted that the Pakistanis had refused to play and that the match should be awarded to England under Law 21.3.

A brilliant innings by Kevin Pietersen promised to change the course of the game which seemed sure to end in a Pakistan victory but which could now be drawn in the present unsettled weather.

Timetable of events

The bizarre timetable of events goes like this:

2.20 — At the end of an over by Umar Gul, the umpires showed the ball to the Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and summoned the fourth umpire to bring out a box of six balls so that the match ball could be changed.

Inzamam was heard to say: "What proof do you have that we have tampered with the ball?" The ball was changed and the match continued until bad light stopped play just before tea with England 298 for four, still 33 behind.

4.40 — Play was due to restart but when the umpires walked out there was so sign of the Pakistan side. "The team were aggrieved that they had been accused of cheating. They felt they wanted to mount a protest.

"They were ready to come out and then the umpires decided to leave the field. It is very sad we should to come to this at the end of a happy tour. Then we were ready to come but now the umpires are not ready to come out," said Shahryar Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board.

4.50 — The umpires and the England batsmen Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell walked off. Negotiations began which seemed to result in an agreement with the Pakistan players to continue the match. But when the Pakistanis walked out there was no sign of the umpires.

It is understood they were annoyed because they felt the game should be awarded to England under Law 21.3. This Law states that a match shall be lost if either side concedes defeat or if in the opinion of the umpires refuses to play.

That is quite clearly what has happened here and in a technical sense it is right for the umpires to insist that the match should be awarded to England.

The consequences are so great that every diplomatic move will be used to persuade the umpires to continue the match.

5.20 — The umpires were reluctant to continue and began a meeting with the Match Referee Mike Procter from South Africa. (Incidentally, for much of this time the light was probably too bad for play anyway.)

6.00 — Fourth umpire tells the players "no further play today (Sunday)."

The dispute was a reminder that there has been bad blood between England and Pakistan for the last quarter of a century.

* * *

Focus on Law 21.3

The bizarre scenes following a ball-tampering row at the Oval brought into focus the interpretation of Law 21.3.

The law deals with the circumstances that can lead to the umpires awarding a match.

It states: "A match shall be lost by a side which either (i) concedes defeat or (ii) in the opinion of the umpires refuses to play and the umpires shall award the match to the other side."

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