Lamb goes on front foot over ball-tampering: Lawyer attacks cricket administrators after libel case ends amid claims of cover-up

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The Independent Online
ALLAN LAMB'S legal adviser yesterday accused cricket administrators at Lord's of blocking attempts to get at the truth in the dispute over ball-tampering.

Mr Lamb, the former England batsman, called a news conference to proclaim his High Court libel case 'victory' over the former Pakistani fast bowler, Sarfraz Nawaz.

But his legal adviser insisted that officials of the Test and County Cricket Board did all they could to withhold key evidence and prevent star witnesses from attending.

Mr Sarfraz had sued for libel following a newspaper article last year in which Mr Lamb claimed the the fast bowler showed him how to 'doctor' a ball while they were team-mates at Northamptonshire in the late 1970s.

Inevitably however, the case re- opens Mr Lamb's more sensational allegations that Pakistan's world-beating fast bowlers, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, were guilty of ball- tampering during their team's victorious tour of England the summer before last.

Mr Lamb 'blew the whistle' on Javed Miandad's side in a Daily Mirror article following a one-day international at Lord's during which the ball used by Pakistan was changed. But neither the Lord's ball nor the reports of the umpires, Ken Palmer and John Hampshire, were produced in court before the trial ended dramatically on Thursday when the action was withdrawn. Alan Herd, Mr Lamb's solicitor, said: 'It would have been helpful if the ball had been seen, but every conceivable effort was made to ensure we didn't see it.'

'We subpoenaed the TCCB to see the ball and the umpires' reports, but they simply didn't want to do it. The world will never know what is in those reports . . . The board are very concerned about the image of cricket. That phrase occured a lot in my dealings with them. I said to them that it might be better for the game's image if any form of cheating is revealed.'

Robin Smith, a current England batsman, was among those players who gave evidence in court on Lamb's behalf. Yesterday, Mr Lamb said that Mr Smith's action had shown 'guts'.

But according to Mr Herd, several other players and officials were reluctant to volunteer written statements for fear they might be in breach of their TCCB contracts. 'Even David Gower and Graham Gooch who were subpoenaed by Mr Sarfraz, sought board advice and asked 'What should we do?',' he alleged.

'The board made every effort to make sure the right people didn't come forward. Several people were served with subpoenas. I know great efforts were made to get those subpoenas removed.'

Yesterday, David Richards, chief executive of the ICC, said: 'We have taken legal advice and are making no comment.' The TCCB chief executive, Alan Smith, issued a bland four-paragraph statement.

Mr Lamb said: 'I would have liked a little bit more support from the TCCB.' His wife, Lindsay, was blunt: 'I think the TCCB owe Allan an apology. They should clear out the lot of them and put in someone stronger who will clean up the game.'

Martin Johnson, page 27

(Photograph omitted)