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England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval

A matter of honour, says Inzamam

Exclusive by Andrew Miller

August 21, 2006

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Inzamam-ul-Haq sticks by his stance, saying it's a matter of honour © Getty Images
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Inzamam-ul-Haq has confirmed that the Pakistani stance on their forfeited Test at The Oval is a matter of honour, after the match ball was changed by umpire Darrell Hair midway through the afternoon session.

"This game is about more than winning and losing," he told Cricinfo, "it's about respect and countries come first. If someone says to me you are a cheat and Pakistan is doing wrong things, my first priority is to my country."

Play was held up for 45 minutes after tea, following Pakistan's initial refusal to take the field, but Inzamam insisted: "We were ready to play. The main issue was not whether we were going onto the field, it was whether the ball had been tampered with or not.

"We had lodged our protest and after that we came [down] to the ground as normal as if we are playing. But then the umpires were not coming. It is up to them, and we await the referee's hearing committee."

It is not the first time that Pakistan has crossed swords with the controversial figure Hair, and Inzamam was unequivocal in his stance. "This allegation is mean," he said. "He's not saying what his allegation is, he's just saying your guy is cheating. In my personal opinion, TV will show if anyone is tampering.

"It's very simple," he continued. "There are 26 cameras there [from Sky Sports] and nobody's picked anything. This hearing will not take place in the [referee's] room, it's on the front of the media, everything is on the media."

Inzamam ran through the chain of events in his on-pitch confrontation with the umpires. "They did not warn me," he said, "and then they gave five [penalty] runs. [Hair] did not talk to me, he wasn't telling me when he's changed the ball, he didn't ask me 'can we change the ball?'"

The discussion continued when Hair went up to the Pakistan dressing-room to ask if they would be taking the field. "Personally I asked him: 'why did you change the ball?'", said Inzamam, adding that Hair responded that the ball had been tampered with, but then refused to show Inzamam the ball when he was asked, saying that it was in the referee's room.

"I said it is in my rights to see the ball," he added, "to show that the ball is doing nothing. I wanted to say it's ok, the condition of the ball has not changed, but Hair says 'It's my decision.'"

When asked if Pakistan felt persecuted by Hair, Inzamam responded: "Yes definitely. It's not once [with Hair], it's lots of times, we've already sent a letter before this to the ICC, asking that he does not umpire in Pakistan games. But still he is doing it. The controversy is always there.

"It's a big disappointment for me and my team and especially for cricket, the way this game was going. But I don't think we could carry on like this. If someone like this says "cheat" then this game is not on.

"There is definitely no problem with the England team," he confirmed, after last night's joint statement had confirmed that both teams had been willing to resume the game. "We know people were coming to watch today and we are sorry the game is not on," he added. "But we are sticking on to our decision because it's not the right thing that is going on."

In Inzamam's opinion, at this moment in time the five-match one-day series is not under threat.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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