The Pakistan Ball Tampering Scandal

   21 August 2006, early evening

Whenever I go back to Scarborough I get to watch Cricket. This weekend the Pakistan-England test series was coming to a close. Pakistan looked like they would win the last game in the series after some excellent bowling, and even more brilliant batting. That was until Darrell Hair charged the Pakistani team with ball tampering.

In Cricket, you play with the same ball for much of the game. (For example, unlike in Baseball, when the ball is batted into the stands the fans are expected to throw it back on to the pitch.) As the ball gets rougher over the course of a game, the effectiveness of your spin-bowlers increases. The wear and tear on the ball will effect how it will spin in the air. This is why there is an incentive to tamper with the ball. Natural wear and tear on the ball is to be expected, but it is illegal to tamper with the ball by scratching it with your finger nails or other objects. When Hair accused Pakistan’s team of ball tampering, he was calling them cheaters. This is not the first time Pakistan has been accused of ball tampering, which is why I suspect the captain felt obliged to take a stand.

Hair is well known for being an overly harsh and stubborn umpire, particularly when dealing with South-Asian cricketers. In fact, Pakistan had objected to his being an umpire during this series. Hair gained a lot of notoriety for declaring Muralitharan’s bowling action illegal 7 times during an Australia-Sri Lanka game back in 1995. (Muralitharan is probably one of the greatest bowlers ever, and his action has been defended by some of crickets greatest players, including Australian Bradman.)

This is the first time ever that a Test has been decided by a forfeit. Over the next few days I expect more information to come to light as to what Hair saw (or did not see).



  1. Actually its seems that behind the scenes it was the English coach who complained to the match referee who informed the umpires. And that’s why Hair was keeping an eye on the Pakistanis. So until the hearing (in a couple of days) let’s not just try to lay it on Hair.

    Opinions and facts on Murali: personally the most lethal spinner I have ever seen. But there is one delivery in his arsenal – the doosra – that does look dodgy. Regardless, the natural overextension of his arm and because of the deformity in his elbow since birth, it has been proven that its really an optical illusion. Hence, cricket laws have actually been changed in accordance with new video / technical evidence. Murali is not the only bowler who has benefitted from this. Harbhajan Singh’s doosra has been validated as well. When Hair no-balled Murali in 1994-95 he was just going by what he saw and he called it right according to then existing laws. And frankly given the circumstances in the forfeited test match, I think Hair was within the cricket laws to call it off.

    Players have to understand the cricket is bigger than themselves. Funnily, its always the Asian players who forget that.

  2. I think Pakistan should have come out when everyone else took the pitch, since their protest was clear. They then could have beat the British and bitched afterwards about being labeled cheats. They were playing so well. I like their young fast-bowler Mohammad Asif.

    Pakistan always has such kick-ass bowlers. I wonder why that is.

  3. Exactly. They should have lodged the protest, but continued the match. Then the onus would be on Hair to prove his allegations.

    Pakistan always produces great fast bowlers. My dad always jokes about how India produces the batsmen and Pakistan the bowlers. I personally think its mostly dietary—you need to eat meat to be a fast bowler! Umar Gul and Asif look promising and I bet there are probably 20 others in Pakistan raring to go. Check out this kid for instance. He completely destroyed India in the U-19 World Cup Final!

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