|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 22nd August 2006
The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said accusations that Pakistan players had tampered with the ball was a "slur" against the team and the country.
Shaharyar Khan told a London news conference that the sensational forfeiture of the fourth and final Test against hosts England on Sunday at The Oval here following the accusations was "unwarranted and unavoidable".
He said the Pakistan team were "deeply indignant" and felt there had been a "slur to the reputation of the Pakistan team and a slur to Pakistan itself".
He insisted that no Pakistan player had tampered with the ball and said the spirit of the game had been damaged by the allegations.
Khan said the PCB had lodged a protest with the International Cricket Council (ICC) on both the ball-tampering allegations and the forfeiture of the match.
He said the PCB had requested that the ICC hold an independent inquiry and said that they did not want to see Australian umpire Darrell Hair appointed to any further Pakistan matches following his involvement in the ball-tampering allegations at The Oval.
"Darrell Hair is not a bad umpire he is a good umpire, it is his attitude that has upset our players before and again upset them in the Test match," he said. "The team has lost confidence in him."
Khan stressed that Pakistan were happy to continue their tour of England and play in the five One-Day Internationals which start next week.
"We feel that the spirit of the game was harmed and with a little bit of flexibility we could have overcome this hitch.
"We deeply regret this because the public at the Oval, millions of television watchers, yesterday (Sunday) and today (Monday) have been deprived of an excellent series, albeit won by England already.
"The fact this flexibility was not shown by the umpires was a matter of grave concern to us."
He added that himself, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman David Morgan, ECB chief executive David Collier, England captain Andrew Strauss, Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan team manager Zaheer Abbas and match referee Mike Procter had met for several hours from 7pm local time and that there was unanimous agreement that all wanted to play the match.
He added that ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed had been contacted twice in a bid to help end the impasse but that the umpires had "remained intransigent".
The incident that sparked the unprecedented scene of a Test match being forfeited happened at the end of the 56th over of England's second innings, bowled by paceman Umar Gul, when Hair signalled to the scorers that five penalty runs were being awarded.
Shaharyar stressed the tour would go ahead. "We would like to continue with this tour and we intend to continue with it."
"In these days of tension outside the cricket ground, what a wonderful sight it is to see cricket between a Muslim country (Pakistan) and England, where the majority are Christians, with both sides being cheered, both sides being really appreciated. This is the spirit of cricket.
"Cricket offers a bridge of peace, why destroy this bridge over a technicality?
"We were ready to go out, having made our protest. Inzamam and his boys were going out when the umpires had taken the bails off.
"It was a matter of a few seconds. If we'd gone out half a minute earlier this point might not have been reached.
As captain of the team, Inzamam was charged by the ICC on Monday with "changing the condition of the ball and "bringing the game into disrepute".
Asked if the team would still play without Inzamam if he was found guilty, Khan replied: "We'll cross those bridges when we come to them but we have played several times without Inzamam."
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)