September 6, 2006

Pakistan in England

Shoaib and Sky under the spotlight

Martin Williamson
The lead story in the sports section of <I>The Daily Telegraph</I>
 © Daily Telegraph
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While the spectre of ball-tampering briefly resurfaced at The Rose Bowl, it was Sky Sports’ coverage which came in for criticism in the media.

The BBC’s veteran Pat Murphy accused Sky of having “power without responsibility" for the way they presented and commented on the footage of Shoaib Akhtar working on the ball.

And Derek Pringle in The Daily Telegraph was equally critical:

“In a mischievous piece of commentary, Sky failed to draw their own conclusions, leaving it for viewers to email in their thoughts. Nasser Hussain's trenchant thoughts after England's innings — that Shoaib, was "very silly to do it in the current climate" as it would be "all over the morning paper" — was ironic given Sky's instigative role.”

Pringle also noted:

“The pictures, shown in slow motion, mostly looked innocent (you are allowed to clean the ball under the umpire's supervision). Yet when a bowler uses his thumb to lightly pick at something out of their line of sight, there is always room for other interpretations especially when you've been punished for ball-tampering before, as Shoaib was in 2003.”

In The Guardian, David Hopps wrote:

“Anyone who contends that the pictures shown constitute evidence of ball-tampering would find identical incidents taking place every day that first-class cricket is played. The nub of Pakistan resentment is less that they are being accused of cheating than that they are the ones who are being singled out.”

Richard Hobson in The Times said that: “the sequence was suspicious but inconclusive, because at no stage was it certain that his nail dug into the ball.”

You can see a video of the incident at The Corridor

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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