Controversial 2006 cricket match a win after all

February 11, 2009


The result of the controversial 2006 Oval Test between England and Pakistan has been switched back to an England win by the game’s world governing body. The match was originally awarded to England by forfeit when the Pakistan team delayed play after being accused of ball-tampering by the umpires. Last July, the International Cricket Council changed the result to a draw, but the ICC board decided to reverse that decision at a meeting in Perth, Australia on Sunday. It means that the series result will once again appear as a 3-0 England victory in the record books.

ICC Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat, said the decision ensured “the integrity of the game”. He added: “After reconsidering that match, taking into account the views of the MCC,  and some of the legal opinions we’ve got, the board was pretty unanimous in upholding the original umpires’ decision.

The original incident occurred on the fourth day of the match in August 2006 when on-field umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove awarded England five penalty runs after ruling that the Pakistan team had tampered with the ball to help it swing. Pakistan initially refused to resume play after tea and by the time captain Inzamam-ul-Haq led his players out of the dressing room, the umpires had already called the game off and awarded it to England, the first time a Test has ever been won by forfeit. Inzamam was subsequently cleared of the ball-tampering charge by an ICC tribunal, but banned for four matches for bringing the game into disrepute by refusing to resume play. Pakistan, meanwhile, blamed Hair for the whole affair and he was dropped from the ICC’s elite umpiring panel in November 2006. He responded by taking the ICC to an industrial tribunal, alleging racial discrimination, but withdrew the allegation after a week of evidence and the case collapsed. Pakistan later agreed to play a Twenty20 match in England in 2012 and waive their fee for that match by way of compensation for the loss of the final day’s play of the Oval Test. Hair was restored to the ICC panel in July last summer but only stood in two Tests before announcing his retirement in order to take up the post of executive officer of the New South Wales Umpires and Scorers Association.

The ICC’s original decision to change the result of the game to a draw was condemned at the time by the MCC, the guardians of the laws of cricket, who accused the governing body of setting a “very dangerous precedent”.


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About Kris

Associate Professor in Sports Law, Staffordshire University; British Gymnastics Senior Coach

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