England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval August 21, 2006

Pakistan back at a deserted Oval

Cricinfo staff

Bob Woolmer: 'Everyone regrets what happened but we can't bring it back and we had to take a stand' © Getty Images
Pakistan arrived at an almost deserted Oval this morning to collect their kit while the debate over the events of yesterday afternoon raged on.

The Pakistan players smiled at well-wishers but did not stop to speak, and Sky Sports reported that they had been advised not to talk to anyone. They left after less than half-an-hour. A formal press conference on behalf of the team was scheduled for north London later in the day.

Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, did issue a brief statement. "The team feel the whole incident could have been better handled from the word go. We had a Test to win but the right to do what we did. We are here to collect our kit and wait. Everyone regrets what happened but we can't bring it back and we had to take a stand.

"No doubt we were right to take that stand," Woolmer continued. "We are very sorry to the British public. We wanted to play and were asked to play by a variety of people, but that hasn't occurred."

He later added that every single one of his players has denied altering the ball. "I think there was a genuine feeling that, by inference, we had been cheating," he told Sky Sports. "I personally asked every member of the team, under oath basically, whether they had at any time scratched the ball during the innings and to a man they said no. I looked at the ball and came to my own conclusions. I didn't see any undue tampering with the ball.

"It had been hit into the stands on numerous occasions by Kevin Pietersen. I didn't think there were any undue marks, but that is a personal opinion. Having asked my team I can concur with them there was probably just damage from concrete and whatever."

Last night's cancellation came too late for many of the concessions inside the ground. Many fast food and coffee bars were open for business, but only a handful of spectators had not heard that the game was off. Their scant consolation was that food and drink was discounted.

Woolmer later told Cricinfo that he was keen for the one-day series to go ahead. "We are keen and in fact desperate to stay on for the ODIs. We need to stay on for our preparation for the World Cup in the West Indies next year. At the moment the team is waiting and relaxing. We can't do much else other than that."

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