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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 August 2006, 19:19 GMT 20:19 UK
Jonathan Agnew column
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Umpire Hair shows Inzamam the damage done to the ball
Pakistan were stunned by the umpires' decision over the ball
While I do have some sympathy for Pakistan, staging a sit-in was not the right way to register their protest.

They clearly feel most aggrieved at having been found guilty of ball-tampering without being able to defend themselves.

But a better, more sensible approach would surely have been to issue a strong denial at tea-time, in which they also promised to appeal, and get on with the game.

There is a tried and tested system for appealing to the match referee in these circumstances, and this takes place at the close of play.

Instead, what they tried to do was effectively blackmail the officials into overturning the umpires' decision.

This could have set a very dangerous precedent.

Ball-tampering is notoriously difficult to prove

But my sympathy for their situation is founded on the implementation of the law which leaves a team in Pakistan's position with no opportunity immediately to defend itself against an allegation of cheating.

The penalty is imposed by the on-field umpires, and as long as they are as sure as they can be that the ball has been tampered with, they can act without any consultation with the captain of the fielding team.

Ball-tampering is notoriously difficult to prove.

In this case, there is no evidence from television cameras to support the umpires, and it is very hard to tell the difference between an innocent scuff mark, or deliberate skulduggery.

However, the umpires are trained to detect the difference where possible, and Pakistan's claim that the ball had been damaged by being hit to the boundary - and for six - is not entirely credible.

The ball in question had not been hit for four during the previous three overs, and was never hit for six.


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