back icon


Pakistan forfeit The Oval Test following ball-tampering allegations

article_imageON THIS DAY
Last updated on 20 Aug 2023 | 07:44 AM
Google News IconFollow Us
Pakistan forfeit The Oval Test following ball-tampering allegations

On this day in 2006, Inzamam-ul-Haq-led Pakistan refused to continue play after his side was slapped with a five-run penalty

While it is with neighbours India that Pakistan shared a bitter rivalry, the Men in Green surprisingly have multiple instances of bad blood with England - be it be Mike Gatting’s altercation with umpire Shakoor Rana in 1987, the ball-tampering instance against the Men in Green in 1992 or the pitch invasions in 2001.  

However, none of the above instances resulted in the game being forfeited - a historical incident that happened on August 20, 2006. The then 129-year-old sport of cricket had overseen 1,814 official Tests until then, but under no circumstances were the match officials forced to take this call.

It is highly unusual for on-field umpires to call a game off unaffected by weather conditions, given that most matches are sold out, with crowds planning their entire week based on their respective match-day tickets. But umpire Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove had taken this tainted call after the Pakistan cricket team had refused to take the field at the Oval.

With England leading the four-match series 2-0, the last Test was a dead rubber, and Pakistan were actually dominating proceedings. Opting to bowl first, Pakistan had bundled England for 173 runs before posting a mammoth 504 in their first innings to take a massive lead.

England were slowly making a comeback in the game, with skipper Andrew Strauss’ 53-run knock setting up the stage. Alastair Cook (83) and Kevin Pietersen (96) had provided the perfect springboard for Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell to soar high, and England were just 33 runs short of cutting the lead when the incident happened.

At precisely 2:30 PM, the on-field umpires had inspected the ball and concluded that it was tampered with. However, instead of warning or discussing it with the Pakistan team, they had decided to impose five penalty runs on the visitors - a move that didn’t sit well with them. Hence, after the bad light forced an early Tea, the Pakistan team had decided to remain in their dressing room as a sign of protest.

"From our point of view, the boys were extremely upset at the slur of ball-tampering, and as a result, they wanted to register a protest with the match referee," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahriyar Khan had explained.

Both the English batters Bell and Collingwood waited at the crease for five minutes before Hair went on to have a 10-minute chat with the Pakistan team. The officials would then return to the crease, but Inzmam-ul-Haq and his boys did not. Not only was The Oval jampacked on the fourth day, but 12,000 tickets were sold for the final day as well.

"Once we had done that, we were ready to go out there and play, but there is now a question of the umpires not being prepared to go out. We said we would stay in the dressing room for a few minutes and then go out and play, but the umpires came and warned the boys what would happen if certain things continued and we would forfeit the match," Khan would later explain.

Umpire Hair and Doctrove remained true to their words and called off the game on the fourth day itself, thereby handing a win to England, who won the series 3-0.

The meeting between ECB chairman David Morgan and Shahriyar Khan had run way past the day end’s time of 6:15 PM but to no avail.  It was the first time in cricket history that a team was penalised with runs for suspected ball tampering, and a Test match was forfeited.

With no evidence found against Pakistan for tampering with the ball, the ICC cleared the team soon, although captain Inzamam was suspended for the upcoming ODI series. Two years later, the ICC had even turned the result into a draw from an England win, but MCC had overturned it again in England’s favour.

Speaking about the incident years later on his YouTube channel “Inzamam-ul-Haq – The Match Winner”, the former Pakistan skipper had said, “As per ICC rule, the umpire informs a player if he’s guilty before awarding those five runs. However, I was not informed.

“Then I decided that I cannot lead a team like this and waited 15-20 minutes to show everyone the entire team protested against the decision. Hair, too, refused to come out in the field and continue with the match.

“I feel that if Hair refused, the third umpire should have continued with the match from there. But the umpires are selected by ICC for their events, so ICC backed him,” Inzamam had stated.

Related Article