Cricketers clash in court: Former Pakistan star sues over report that he could doctor ball

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The Independent Online
THE FORMER Pakistan cricket star, Sarfraz Nawaz, yesterday sued the England batsman, Allan Lamb, over an allegation that he taught him how to cheat by doctoring the ball.

The 44-year-old medium-pace bowler, who represented Pakistan 55 times and was Mr Lamb's colleague at Northamptonshire between 1978 and 1982, is seeking damages for an article that appeared in the Daily Mirror in August 1992 under Mr Lamb's name.

Jonathan Crystal, for Mr Nawaz, of Chelsea, south-west London, told the jury at the High Court that his client had been the victim of an 'appalling' libel. The piece, which appeared after the one-day international at Leeds when Pakistan swept to victory after the ball was changed, was the culmination of a summer of speculation about whether Pakistan were cheating.

It quoted 39-year-old Lamb, the Northamptonshire captain, as saying that Mr Nawaz had taught him how to make an old ball swing by gouging it with his nails and smearing it with sweat.

It claimed Mr Nawaz had passed on the technique to others and it had gone down the line to the stars of the Pakistan Test side, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Mr Lamb denies libel and says Mr Nawaz did show him how to cheat.

The court was told that the Daily Mirror paid pounds 5,000 to a charity for the story. The newspaper also paid Mr Lamb's fines when he was disciplined over the story by the Test and County Cricket Board and it had agreed to indemnify him against any claims for damages. Giving evidence, Mr Nawaz said he was very hurt by the article. 'I was called the godfather of cheating by some people . . . I never cheated in all my 15-year career in cricket.'

He said he never discussed bowling with Mr Lamb, as he was a batsman. He had no 'trick' to pass on but he had developed a legal technique, called reverse swing, which relied on polishing one side of the ball, bowling into the wind, and dry conditions.

The case continues today.