On This Day – The first forfeited Test as Pakistan cry foul over ball-tampering

The England vs Pakistan Test 14 years ago at The Oval was best remembered for Pakistan being accused of ball-tampering and Inzamam-ul-Haq refusing to take the field, thus forfeiting the Test match.

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On This Day – The first forfeited Test as Pakistan cry foul over ball-tampering
Inzamam-ul-Haq and the Pakistan team were indirectly accused of ball-tampering and cheating during the Oval Test against England in 2006 and when Pakistan refused to come out, England were awarded the match.


If one looks at cricketing rivalries, Australia vs England in the Ashes is the ultimate pinnacle followed by India vs Pakistan and Australia vs India as marquee contests. However, the England vs Pakistan rivalry has also tended to be explosive. In the 1987 tour, there was an ugly confrontation between umpire Shakoor Rana and England skipper Mike Gatting. In the 1992 series, England accused Pakistan’s bowlers of tampering with the ball. In 2006, that same accusation would go on to have dire consequences for an umpire, for a team and also for the ICC.

England had already clinched the series and Pakistan were playing for pride. England, leading the four-match series 2-0 thanks to wins in Old Trafford and Leeds, were inserted into bat and it was Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul who stole the show with four wickets apiece. England were bundled out for 173 and Pakistan responded with 504 thanks to a brilliant 128 from Mohammad Yousuf. Aided by fifties from Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat and Faisal Iqbal, Pakistan built up a big lead of 331.

England responded well in the second innings with Kevin Pietersen slamming 96 and Alastair Cook chipping in with 83 followed by Andrew Strauss who hit 54. However, on day 4, an incident sparked trouble and it became a serious matter.

Condition of the ball

Umpire Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove checked on the condition of the ball and without warning, signaled five penalty runs. The choice of changing the ball went to the batsmen, which indicated that Pakistan had deliberately altered the state of the ball.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, the skipper of the side, went into the tea break but afterwards, he and his team refused to come out. Pakistan were miffed that they were indirectly accused of cheating and they stood their ground. This resulted in a full-scale diplomatic stand-off between the UK and Pakistan. At one point in time, the Pakistan players were ready but umpire Hair refused to come out.

With the stand-off escalating, the umpires removed the bails and awarded the match to England. In the 129-year history of Test cricket, this was the first forfeiture and the recriminations were massive.

Inzamam was banned for four ODIs but there was massive criticism of umpire Darrell Hair, who was accused of wanting to retire from umpiring but in exchange of USD 500,000. Even today, there was no conclusive proof in the cameras at the ground that any Pakistan player had damaged the ball.

In 2008, the ICC changed the decision of the forfeiture to a draw and that pleased Pakistan. However, in 2009, the MCC over-ruled the ICC and changed the result back in favour of England on the grounds that not to uphold the Laws set a "very dangerous" precedent. The current series between the two sides is being played with a bit more calmness, but in the previous two decades, there was massive tension and the ball-tampering incident on August 20, 2006 was the tipping point.

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