Spot-fixing allegations September 16, 2010

Umpires thought Amir no-ball was tactical

ESPNcricinfo staff

The umpires Tony Hill and Billy Bowden suspected one of Mohammad Amir's colossal no-balls in the Lord's Test was deliberate, but only as a means to intimidate the batsman Jonathan Trott. The major overstep from the third ball of the 19th over was a central part of the spot-fixing allegations against Amir first published in the News of the World.

It was a short delivery that troubled Trott, who was on 21 at the time and went on to finish with 184. Hill said he and his fellow New Zealander Bowden had no inkling about any possible spot-fixing, but the extent of the no-ball raised questions in their minds about whether it was intentional.

"We never suspected a thing," Hill told the Dominion Post. "There had been the big overstep in particular and in our minds that was more a deliberate overstep to have a go at Trott, who had been batting so well.

"Billy and I chatted about that and thought it seemed deliberate, especially as it was dropped in short. But it all seemed to be one of those things that fast bowlers have been known to do to get an advantage."

Hill was the man who called another no-ball from Mohammad Asif, which was also mentioned in the original News of the World allegations. He said the Asif delivery was much less of a concern as he stepped over by only a narrow margin.

"The one at my end from Asif was not a helluva lot over," Hill said. "He is generally pretty accurate [with his front foot]. It is the Glenn McGrath type thing where the foot comes down always in the same spot. When it alters slightly you think it is unusual but like McGrath, or anyone when they try harder, can occasionally go over."

Hill said he and Bowden were kept up to date on the allegations after the third day's play and it turned into a later night than usual for the officials. He described as "eerie" the feeling out in the middle on the morning of the fourth day, as England wrapped up the match quickly.

"It was very quiet out there," he said. "Both teams were very quiet. You always expected something to be said out there but it wasn't. They just got on with playing the game.

"From our point of view it was a matter of trying to concentrate like hell so we weren't caught up in the moment. I was expecting a few verbals, but thankfully both sides concentrated on the cricket side of things. It was almost quiet."