Ball-tampering charge dogs Surrey

Surrey 217 & 220-6 v Nottinghamshire 692-7
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The Independent Online

Surrey's season was bad enough before they were caught tampering with the ball in Nottinghamshire's first innings. Now there is every chance things will get a lot worse, if what their chief executive Paul Sheldon said yesterday is anything to go by.

Surrey's season was bad enough before they were caught tampering with the ball in Nottinghamshire's first innings. Now there is every chance things will get a lot worse, if what their chief executive Paul Sheldon said yesterday is anything to go by.

Sheldon confirmed that the county had launched an internal investigation, led by their cricket chairman Micky Stewart, and that the findings would be submitted "within a few days" to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Sheldon promised severe punitive action. "I am sure we will agree, the ECB and ourselves, what that action should be, but it must be tough and set an example."

The umpires, Mervyn Kitchen and Nigel Llong, had warned Surrey after 35 overs of the Nottinghamshire innings about changing the condition of the ball, but by the close they realised that further tampering had taken place, in this case raising the quarter seam. Five runs were added to the Nottinghamshire total and the incident was reported.

Under Law 42.3 (fair and unfair play) the "governing body responsible for the match... shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain and team concerned".

Alan Fordham, the ECB's cricket operations manager, said yesterday: "There is no set tariff of punishments."

Last season Mohammad Akram, who is playing in this match for Surrey, was given three disciplinary points when he was found guilty of ball-tampering while playing for Sussex.

If no individual culprit is revealed Surrey could be fined, as they were in 1992 when they were found guilty of one act of ball tampering against Leicestershire and asked for three other offences to be taken into consideration - against Gloucestershire (twice) and Yorkshire in 1990 and 1991 - which cost them a £1,000 fine suspended for two years.

Sheldon added: "We will do everything we can to find out who did it and why they did it. It is a dent in our reputation."

It is not as grave as the damage that has been inflicted on their playing reputation. They offered little resistance second time around, after Nottinghamshire captain Stephen Fleming declared 475 runs ahead, having recorded the fourth highest total by any side against Surrey.

Only the acting captain Mark Ramprakash put up any kind of a fight, but the deficit is still 255 runs.

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