|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Player:||DB Hair, Inzamam-ul-Haq|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 28th August 2006
Legendary West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding wants Pakistan absolved of ball tampering charges, saying "first world hypocrisy" was to blame for cricket's present crisis.
"I have absolute and all sympathy with (Pakistan captain) Inzamam-ul-Haq. If you label someone a cheat, please arrive with the evidence," Holding wrote in the latest issue of the respected 'India Today' weekly magazine.
Inzamam stands accused of bringing the game into disrepute after his team refused to take the field in the recent Oval Test match against England in protest at umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove reporting them for ball tampering.
The umpires later awarded the match to England, the first instance in the 129-year history of Test cricket that a game was forfeited, triggering the biggest upheaval in the sport since the match-fixing row in 2000.
Holding, now a popular and respected television pundit, wrote it was "insensitive" of the umpires, Hair in particular, to penalise Pakistan for ball tampering.
"Most other umpires would have said something to the captain, given the offending team a warning of some kind. Then if the tampering continued, they would have been totally justified in taking action," Holding wrote.
"There is a double standard at work in cricket and this episode has only highlighted it.
"When England used reverse swing to beat the Australians in the 2005 Ashes, everyone said it was great skill. When Pakistan does it, the opposite happens, no one thinks it is great skill. Everyone associates it with skullduggery.
"When bombs go off in Karachi and Colombo everyone wants to go home. When bombs go off in London, no one says anything.
"That is first world hypocrisy and we have to live with it."
Holding said he was astonished that both teams and match referee Mike Procter were willing to resume play on the final day, but the umpires cited rules and insisted the game was already over.
"Being the senior umpire, Hair was probably leading the way in that decision," wrote Holding.
"Today, Hair is being defended in Australia but that is just a matter of friends sticking together, the Aussies defending an Australian umpire.
"Everyone now citing the cricketing law as the absolute and final truth is talking absolute rubbish. Every law has room for flexibility.
"I read a prime example recently in the British press. It said that by law, you can be fined for parking within the yellow lines in England. If you do that to run into a chemist to buy emergency medicines, a sensible policeman would more than likely tell you about the law but it's unlikely a ticket would be forthcoming."
The International Cricket Council's powerful Executive Board, comprising the heads of all 10 Test-playing nations, is due to meet in Dubai on Saturday to discuss the crisis.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)