England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval, 4th day August 20, 2006

Pakistan deny charges of ball-tampering

The umpires consult after the decision was made to change the ball © Getty Images

Pakistan have strongly denied that there was any tampering of the ball during the fourth Test at the Oval, accusations of which eventually led to the forfeiture of the game by Pakistan.

Umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove changed the ball in the 56th over of England's second innings on the fourth day and punished Pakistan with a five-run penalty as a result. Pakistan protested after the tea break by refusing to come out, a decision which eventually led the umpires to forfeit the match in England's favour.

But a Pakistan official told Cricinfo, having inspected the ball, that there was no evidence of tampering. "There was no evidence of any tampering on the ball I saw. It was a 55-overs old ball and one that had been hit into the stands on a couple of occasions by Kevin Pietersen. I can honestly say that it had not been scratched to gain any reverse swing."

The official also questioned the approach of the umpires to the entire incident. "Most umpires would give some sort of prior warning, just have a word with the captain and may be give a warning before taking action. They don't have to but they do. Nothing was said to Inzamam by either umpire until the ball was changed." The official also confirmed that no individual had been named by the umpires and no specific incident was highlighted either.

Sky TV commentators repeatedly pointed out that none of the 26 cameras at the ground had picked up any images which suggested the ball might have been tampered with. On past occasions when players have been charged with ball tampering, ICC match referees have been able to take into account images captured on television cameras. In light of what Sky's commentary team said, it seems unlikely such evidence can be provided.

Ultimately, this is a moot point in any case as the decision on whether the ball has been tampered is down to the umpires. The ICC match referee for the Test, Mike Proctor, is now reviewing the case and his report will be considered by the ICC in the aftermath of this Test. According to an ICC press release, Pakistan has been charged under Level two of the Code of Conduct, 2.10, which relates to changing the condition of the match ball.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo