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Hair `guessed` at ball-tampering

29 September, 2006

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LONDON: Umpire Darrell Hair was only "guessing" when he decided to penalise Pakistan for ball-tampering, according to TV analyst Simon Hughes.

He gave evidence at the hearing in which Inzamam was cleared of altering the condition of the ball.

"The problem was Hair was guessing, using the flimsiest evidence.

"The marks on the ball were not blatant enough for the drastic measures Hair took," former Middlesex and Durham seam bowler Hughes commented.

The decision taken by Hair and fellow umpire Billy Doctrove ultimately led to the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at The Oval coming to a premature end.

The Pakistan players were so upset at a five-run penalty being imposed, they failed to take the field promptly after the tea interval and the two officials then decided to award the match to England by forfeit.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Hughes said when he examined the ball it was in "pretty good condition".

He added: "There were a number of small abrasions on the rough side, fairly typical of normal wear and tear on a deteriorating Test pitch.

"The only thing that looked slightly suspicious was a number of slightly curved striations concentrated on one area.

"I concluded that those could have been man-made scratches but there was no way I could be sure. There was no hard evidence of ball-tampering."

Although cleared of the ball-tampering charge on Thursday, Inzamam was found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute because of Pakistan`s protest and given a ban of four limited overs internationals.

Former skipper Imran Khan said Inzamam had been wrong to stop the game.

But he added: "I am delighted to see our team getting a clean sheet. Hair did all he could to implicate them in an offence they never committed."

The Pakistan Cricket Board, meanwhile, believe the whole incident could have been avoided if the ICC had accepted their request that Hair should not stand in matches involving their side.

"We told them we had a problem with his attitude, so why post him to four successive series. It was a time bomb waiting to go off and it went off," said PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan.

"When Sri Lanka had a problem with Darrell Hair in 1995, he was not posted to a Sri Lanka match for eight years.

"All the time the ICC held the position that no country has a right to say which umpire will be appointed to which match, but if you have a consistent problem with a particular umpire then I think the ICC is right - like they were with Sri Lanka - not to appoint him for many years."

End.

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