|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Player:||N Hussain, Inzamam-ul-Haq|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 21st August 2006
Former England captain Nasser Hussain said he sympathised with Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq for refusing to play in the fourth Test after the tourists were accused of ball-tampering at The Oval.
Pakistan forfeited the match, which still had a day to run, as a consequence.
Umpire Darrell Hair, the man at the centre of the controversy, said Monday: "I have nothing to say."
And while the veteran Australian official maintained his silence, and with it any evidence of wrongdoing, Hussain told the Daily Mail: "Did Darrell Hair actually see a member of the Pakistan team tampering with a cricket ball? Has he got proof?
"If he hasn't then he has made a massive mistake," Hussain added: "If I had been accused of cheating in this way then, as long as I was sure of our innocence, I would have done exactly the same thing as Pakistan.
"I wouldn't have come out after tea, either. People have said that Pakistan should have waited until the close of play and then gone down the right channels, but they wouldn't have seen it that way.
"To Pakistan, if they had carried on playing, they would have been admitting their guilt."
Former England captain Mike Gatting told Sky Sports that the International Cricket Council (ICC), the global governing body, had erred in selecting Hair for Test matches involving Pakistan.
"Perhaps the ICC might have been more understanding. It might have been they had the wrong man with Hair there.
"Because of his previous run-in with Pakistan it might have added a little difficulty. The idea of neutral umpires was meant to stop this."
But in a seperate interview with the BBC, Gatting said once Pakistan had refused to come on to the field the officials had no choice.
"It was very difficult once, unfortunately, Pakistan didn't come out, When the umpires got out to the middle they couldn't really do much else."
Gatting was asked whether the incident compared with the one he was involved in during the third day of the second Test in Faisalabad in 1987.
Then, umpire Shakoor Rana suggested Gatting was cheating by moving a fielder behind the batsman's back while Eddie Hemmings was running into bowl, leading to unseemly finger-pointing between the England skipper and the official.
"I understand how much it hurts and how aggrieved you feel, but at the same time we never stopped our match in Faisalabad and I don't think I would ever have thought about stopping a match`... ," he said.
"I would have hoped that there were some wiser heads in the dressing room to be able to calm things down and say, 'Look, boys, you've got to go out but we can sort this out at the end of the day'."
Former Test umpire Dickie Bird said he would done everything possible to keep the match going.
"I think they should have finished the Test match," Bird told BBC Radio Five Live. "Pakistan have been badly hurt (by the accusations) but the people who have to suffer are the fans.
"I would have tried to keep it going for the sake of public, they have paid the money.
"After the match you all get round the table and thrash this out."
Speaking about the umpires, the Englishman added on BBC Breakfast News:
"They went by the letter of the law, yes, but with a cricket ball it is very, very difficult in this day and age because there are so many advertising boards around the ground and a ball can easily get scuffed when it hits one of the boards or hits any concrete.
"It's very, very difficult to make a decision on that...and you've got to be 100 percent certain if you think someone is scuffing the ball."
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)