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It's just not cricket -

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It's just not cricket

The World Today - Thursday, 3 July , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Simon Santow

ELEANOR HALL: International cricket officials have thrown the sport once regarded as a gentleman's
game into controversy once again by declaring that they plan to change the result of a test match
two years after the game was played.

That match between England and Pakistan was declared a win for the home side, England, when the
visitors locked themselves in their dressing room in protest at a decision by the umpires.

The International Cricket Council now says it will declare the match a draw, but commentators are
warning this could encourage other teams to thumb their noses at match referees.

Simon Santow has our report.

(Crowd cheering)

CRICKET COMMENTATOR: What a good ball! Yes! Got him! First duck! A jaffa!

SIMON SANTOW: On the back of some sharp fast bowling, Pakistan looked on the way to a big win over
England in their test match at the Oval in London two years ago.

CRICKET COMMENTATOR: In Mohammad Asif, Pakistan have something special. This is why Inzamam wanted
to bowl first.

(Sound of ball being hit)

Oh, look at that. You might say...

SIMON SANTOW: But the umpires, Darrell Hair from Australia and West Indian Billy Doctrove had their
suspicions the cricket ball had been tampered with.

Ball tampering is one of the most serious offences in cricket but it's also notoriously hard to
prove, so when the umpires ordered the ball be replaced and imposed a five run penalty, the
Pakistani team walked off the ground in protest.

SHAHRIYAR KHAN: It's very sad that we should come to this pass because of a lack of sensitivity and
consultation.

Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shahriyar Khan expressed his frustration in an interview that day.

SHAHRIYAR KHAN: The team felt deeply aggrieved, upset, insulted by the implication that they been
cheating. This is what a deliberate scuffing of the ball implies. And they felt that this was not
the case.

They felt also that the umpires had not consulted them. They don't have to, they don't have to, but
no-one was consulted and no-one was informed that there was something going wrong with the ball,
which is normally what takes place. And suddenly, unilaterally a decision was taken.

They came back and they felt deeply aggrieved for their own team and of course for the country with
all the fans watching.

SIMON SANTOW: England may have been awarded the match but the controversy didn't die there.
Australian umpire Darrell Hair was banished from umpiring test cricket by the International Cricket
Council.

And now the ICC is poised to turn the forfeit into a draw.

ABC commentator Jim Maxwell:

JIM MAXWELL: I mean we can examine that decision as much as we like. The fact is that it happened
and Pakistan were clearly liable to a large degree for it occurring by not coming out and playing
and carrying the game on as they should.

But if they're going to overturn that decision, it makes you wonder what kind of judgements can
take place in the future when teams decide through a fit of pique, some kind of truculence, to take
their bat and ball and stay in the room.

SIMON SANTOW: Is there a real danger that in the future if the result is not going the right way
over a five day test, that the team that's not doing well might just decide to stay in their
dressing room and play out for a draw.

JIM MAXWELL: Well one would hope not. You'd like to believe that the spirit amongst the men that
play this game, that carries it on and that we will never, ever see that kind of thing happen again
in the history of test match cricket.

But more than likely the way things are going in the world we live in and the games that have been
played off the field as much as on the field that something will blow up again in the future. So if
they overturn this result it sets a precedent whereby it can happen.

SIMON SANTOW: Former test cricketer Greg Matthews is also fearful about the message now sent to the
game's players, the world over.

GREG MATTHEWS: Well we saw in the last test in Sydney how the Indians were unhappy with a few of
the decisions made and consequently an umpire gets sort of side-kicked down to the second tier, if
you want, of umpiring and doing the unimportant games.

And you know they might go back there in a couple of years' time and say, hey hang on a minute,
this wasn't out, this wasn't out - we should have a draw.

The inference is that the game is no longer in the, the umpires are not there to make the decisions
any more. The umpires are only there as stooges.

SIMON SANTOW: Greg Matthews say the ICC's about turn is also compelling proof about the shift in
power away from England and Australia and towards the money and the masses on the subcontinent and
in Asia.

GREG MATTHEWS: What people have to understand is: sport is a mirror of the community and society
that we live in and the world is changing. It's a much faster paced place now. The almighty dollar
has a much bigger say. Is it a really sport any more or has business usurped that?

You look at the IPL where billions of dollars were changing hands in the space of six weeks. And
you cannot stop the almighty dollar because money is power and when people get power, it corrupts.

And unfortunately we're going to see a lot of corruption of the purity of our game.

ELEANOR HALL: That's former test cricketer Greg Matthews speaking to Simon Santow.