Cricket: Gower's book angers Indians

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The Independent Online
DAVID GOWER'S new book provoked further controversy yesterday when Indian cricket officials reacted angrily to its allegation that Indian bowlers illegally tampered with the ball in a Test match at the Oval in 1990.

Gower wrote that India's efforts to make the ball 'wobble around did not preclude some surreptitious scuffing-up on one side of the ball. This was quickly snuffed out by umpire Nigel Plews.' The incident is not elaborated on.

'We strongly deny the malicious charge,' Chandappa Nagaraj, secretary of the Board of Control of Cricket in India, said yesterday. 'It is unfortunate that Gower has made such a grave charge without any basis two years after the series was played in the best traditions of the game.

'I am shocked that the Test and County Cricket Board has allowed this malicious statement to go through its scrutiny before the book's publication. We shall lodge a strong protest against the infringing statement.

'The allegation, coming on the eve of England's tour of India, is in extremely poor taste. The Indian cricket board will discuss the sorry state of affairs kicked up by this statement and decide upon the course of action.'

The manager of India's 1990 cricket team, Madhav Mantri, said: 'I cannot believe this charge. I met the umpires after every match of the tour and they had only good things to say of the players. I met umpire Nigel Plews during the Test and his views were the same as the other umpires to who I spoke during the tour.'

In the context of this controversy and that which generated acrimony last week when it was alleged that the Pakistanis had tampered with the ball before the umpires changed it during lunch in the fourth Texaco one-day international against England, Sir Colin Cowdrey, the chairman of the International Cricket Conference, speaking from Colombo, Sri Lanka said that all Test-playing countries must agree on a solution to the problem.

'I am not worried about the ICC losing credibility over this issue,' he said. 'The ICC comprises nine Test-playing countries and it is up to them to come up with an agreed solution to the problem.

'Tampering with the ball has been going on for three or four years. Next week, when I go back to London, I will be looking at all the umpires' reports, talking to the umpires who stood during the season, looking at match referees' reports and writing to each of the Test-playing countries saying this is what has happened this summer and requesting them to study the report and suggest solutions to stop this.'

Scyld Berry and Simon Hughes, page 26

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