Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Oval Test Match..... what really happened during the inquiry?

Simon Hughes on Cricinfo
Boycott on the controversy

Ranjan Madugalle did not conclude that Pakistan did not tamper the ball during the Oval Test Match. He merely concluded that there wasnt enough evidence to conclusively prove that the damage to the ball was caused by ball tampering and not by natural wear and tear.

Now, Simon Hughes, an expert witness for Inzamam Ul Haq during the enquiry, suggests that he had his doubts about the ball. His point seems to be - "Whats wrong with a bit of cheating, it just makes things more interesting".

That is besides the point.

A large motive behind the ICC's actions has been to defuse tensions. That is why the ICC did not invite expert witnesses to counter Geoffrey Boycott. They could have lined up anybody they wanted to counter Boycott's opinion - former Umpires, other elite panel umpires, current referees, past referees, past cricketing greats.

However, they didn't. I suspect it was because they wanted to end the issue - the defuse the controversy. That in itself is a very brave and farsighted position to take. This is because - this is not the last time Pakistan or any other team will have allegedly tampered the ball. There will be other occasions with much better evidence.

As it happens, Madugalle has made his points brilliantly in a precisely worded statement. Pakistan however, continue with their pre-inquiry gloating.

The point here is not to malign Pakistan. They are the one cricket team apart from Australia that i would pay money to watch. The point here is to keep the facts of the matter in focus, as against the perception created by Pakistan. They have sought to play this out in the public arena. It is a cricketing problem, and their attitude has been quite contemptible in my view.

If Rahul Dravid had walked out, and if BCCI had made the same kind of noises, ending in Dravid getting a 4 match ban, i would have wanted the resignations of Chappell and the BCCI chief.

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