Umpires knew of ball-tampering

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLISH cricket authorities discovered illegal ball-tampering by Pakistani players during last summer's series, but decided to remain silent, one of the umpires involved said yesterday.

The High Court libel action between the former Pakistan international Sarfraz Nawaz and Allan Lamb, a former England player, was dramatically halted yesterday after evidence given by Donald Oslear, reserve umpire during a one- day international at Lords last August. Mr Lamb had said in a Daily Mirror article that the ball had been tampered with in that match, and said that Mr Nawaz had taught other Pakistanis how to tamper with a ball to make it move in the air and deceive batsmen.

After four hours of negotiations, lawyers for both sides agreed to drop the action. Mr Lamb stood by his account, while Mr Narwaz said he was satisfied that he had been cleared of cheating by Mr Lamb's evidence. Each will pay his own portion of costs estimated at pounds 100,000. It is understood that the Mirror will pay Mr Lamb's costs.

Mr Oslear said the ball was changed at lunchtime, after Pakistan had been bowling. He described how the match referee, and the two officiating umpires, had looked at the ball and decided it had been interfered with illegally. Mr Oslear said grooves had been made on one side. The Pakistan manager, Intikhab Alam, told of their findings, had not disagreed.

The chief executive of the Test and County Cricket Board, Alan Smith, and the three umpires had discussed whether to make a statement. Although both teams were told, no statement was made.

Mr Oslear's account was suppressed until yesterday because, like all first-class umpires, he is forbidden by his contract with the TCCB from speaking publicly. He was made to give evidence under subpoena.

Intikhab Alam said publicly at the time that the ball had been changed because it had gone soft, then that it had been damaged accidentally. The International Cricket Conference, the governing body of world cricket, said only that the ball had been changed, but gave no reason.

The judge was told the TCCB had refused to make the ball available to the court.