Barry Jarman, the former ICC match referee, has made a startling revelation that he once confiscated a ball from the South African team, which was being coached by Bob Woolmer, because he suspected that it had been tampered with. The incident happened during a one-day international against India in 1997.
Woolmer, the current Pakistan coach, was a part of the controversy at The Oval Test against England recently, when Pakistan forfeited the match after umpire Darrell Hair accused them of ball tampering.
Jarman said he noticed that the ball was being scratched by two fielders who would rub sweat into one side of it, and as a result generate plenty of swing with a ball which was just 16 overs old. His suspicions grew when he noticed the ball being thrown to the same fielders regularly, though he preferred not to reveal their names.
"The ball is only 16 overs old yet one side has been tampered with and you can see where they have run their thumbails down the seam which opens up," Jarman told The Courier-Mail. "The open seam (which caught the sweat) meant one side was heavier than the other.
"I saw Allan Donald (who he insisted was not one of the players tampering with the ball) all of a sudden start swinging the baIl everywhere on the television and I thought 'hullo, what's going on here?'"
Jarman took action immediately and instructed the umpires to replace the ball, much to the displeasure of Woolmer, who stormed into Jarman's room to demand an explanation. "I said 'your guys are stuffing around with the ball, mate'. I told him who it was and he went out with his tail between his legs. I said to him 'if you really want to make something of it I can give it to the press and we'll see what happens then but I will just give you a warning to cut it out'. The two players later came up to my hotel room and apologised."
Jarman confiscated the ball and has kept it with him ever since, producing it yesterday to prove his statements. "I kept the ball by mistake because the game finished and it was just sitting there so I took it back to the hotel."
He also backed Hair's firm stance at The Oval and admired the honest manner in which he had conducted himself in the past. "I really admire Darrell Hair for what he's done in England," Jarman said. "He is a guy who tells the truth and is suffering for it. He is one of the best, an umpire who can lie straight in bed."