Gloves on and off in cricket libel trial

The High Court is hardly the Oval, but a former England wicket-keeper yesterday took a trip down memory lane in the continuing cricket libel trial.

Bob Taylor was handed a new pair of wicket-keeping gloves by George Carman -representing Imran Khan - to illustrate exactly what he was doing in television footage from the 1982 Test match against India. "They may bring back memories for you," remarked Mr Carman, handing over the gloves. But Charles Gray - representing Ian Botham and Allan Lamb, and a legendary adversary of Mr Carman - went one better. He whipped the originals out of his bag. Mr Taylor's old fashioned gloves had been retrieved from the Long Room at Lord's especially for the occasion. "These will bring back even more memories," ceded Mr Carman as Mr Taylor slipped his hands into the very gloves he wore in 1982.

"Do you remember these gloves?"asked Mr. Justice French. "Very well," replied Mr. Taylor. "I probably wore these gloves when the incidents took place ..."

Botham and Lamb are suing Imran for libel over an "offensive personal attack" on them in the magazine India Today which called them racist, under-educated and lacking class and upbringing. Botham is also suing Imran over a story in the Sun which, he claims, accused him of ball-tampering.

Imran alleges that when Botham threw a new ball to Taylor in the 1982 Test against India at the Oval, it was a breach of the laws of cricket. But Mr Taylor said there was nothing unusual in this, despite the fact that the BBC commentator Ted Dexter remarked that Taylor was giving the ball "a thorough going-over", and he had never seen the likes of it before.

In 23 years of playing Test and county cricket with and against Botham, Mr Taylor said he had never seen him tamper with the ball. As for himself, he illustrated what he had been doing back in 1982. "Is that it?" asked Mr Carman. "Tossing it from one glove to the other."