|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 20th August 2006
Pakistan were penalised five runs for altering the condition of the match ball unfairly on the fourth day of the fourth and final Test against England at The Oval here Sunday.
At the end of the 56th over, pace bowler Umar Gul's 14th over, with England 230 for three the umpires inspected the match ball.
Veteran Australian umpire Darrell Hair, standing with West Indian official Billy Doctrove, then signalled to the scorers that five penalty runs were to be added to England's total, taking it up to 235.
This was the first time such a penalty had been imposed in Test cricket, an International Cricket Council (ICC) spokesman said.
There then followed several minutes delay while the England batsmen chose a replacement ball.
Cricket's Law 42.3 states that in "the event of any fielder changing the condition of the ball unfairly .. the umpires shall award five penalty runs to the batting side."
The Law explains that it is "unfair for anyone to run the ball on the ground for any reason, interfere with any of the seams on the surface of the ball, use any implement, or take any other action whatsoever which is likely to alter the condition of the ball."
The only exceptions to this rule are polishing the ball, removing mud from it and drying a wet ball on a towel.
Playing regulation 42.1.2 (b) for this series also says: "In the event that a ball has been interfered with and requires replacement the batsman at the wicket shall choose the replacement ball from a selection of six other balls of various degrees of usage (including a new ball) and of the same brand as in use prior to the contravention."
Television pictures showed the ball was scuffed around the seam but there did not appear to have been any obvious sign of tampering by a member of the Pakistan fielding side.
After the penalty was imposed Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, the former England all-rounder, went to see match referee Mike Procter.
If found guilty of ball-tampering players can be fined 50 percent of their match fee and be banned from international cricket.
Pakistan's 1992 tour of England was blighted by allegations of ball-tampering with pace great Waqar Younis, now Pakistan's bowling coach, coming under intense scrutiny.
And in 2000 Waqar himself received a one-match ban for ball tampering following a one-day international against South Africa in Sri Lanka while Azhar Mahmood was fined for "abetting" the infringment in the same match.
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, ruled out of the current series with England because of an ankle injury, received a suspended two-match ban in Novemeber 2002 for the same offence after a Test match against Zimbabwe in Harare.
And the following year, in May, Shoaib was given a two-match ban for ball tampering after a one-day international against New Zealand in Dambulla.
But high-profile players from other countries have been banned for similar offences with India batting great Sachin Tendulkar receiving a one-game ban in November 2001 after a Test match against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.
England have an unbeatable lead at 2-0 up in this four-Test series.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)