A match shall be lost by a side which
(i) in the opinion of the umpires refuses to play, and the umpires shall award the match to the other side.
(ii) If an umpire considers that an action by any player or players might constitute a refusal by either side to play then the umpires together shall ascertain the cause of the action. If they then decide together that this action does constitute a refusal to play by one side, they shall so inform the captain of that side. If the captain persists in the action the umpires shall award the match in accordance with (a)(ii) above.
- At approximately 17.25, the Pakistan team went onto the field of play. The Umpires did not emerge. They considered that the match had ended when they took off the bails, and they were not prepared to revive it. After 5 minutes or so, the Pakistan team returned to the dressing room.
- At about 17.45, a meeting was held, chaired by Mr Procter and attended by the Umpires, and the captains, coaches and managers of the two teams. This failed to resolve matters. At 18.10, play was called off for the day.
- Attempts were made that evening to resolve matters. The England team and the Pakistan team wanted play to continue on the fifth day. Mr Procter was understandably keen to find a solution. But the Umpires stated that the match had ended and could not be restarted.
Paragraph 2.9 of the Code of Conduct specifies a disciplinary offence :
"Changing the condition of the ball in breach of Law 42.3 ...".
Law 42.3 states:
(a) Any fielder may
(i) polish the ball provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time,
(ii) remove mud from the ball under the supervision of the umpire,
(iii) dry a wet ball on a towel.
(b) It is unfair for anyone to rub the ball on the ground for any reason, interfere with any of the seams or the surface of the ball, use any implement, or take any other action, whatsoever which is likely to alter the condition of the ball, except as permitted in (a) above.
(c) The umpires shall make frequent and irregular inspections of the ball.
(d) In the event of any fielder changing the condition of the ball unfairly, as set out in (b) above, the umpires after consultation shall
(i) change the ball forthwith. ...
(ii) inform the batsmen that the ball has been changed.
(iii) award five penalty runs to the batting side. ...
(iv) inform the captain of the fielding side that the reason for the action was the unfair interference with the ball.
Paragraph E7 of the Code states:
"In the event of an alleged breach of paragraph 2.9, where it is not possible to identify the Particular Player(s) who has breached the Code of Conduct the Captain may be the person charged and, if appropriate, sanctioned".
None of the four Umpires, nor the Match Referee, saw any tampering with the ball. Nor is there any video footage or other photographic evidence, which shows any such conduct. The witnesses do not suggest that the way the ball was playing establishes ball-tampering. This charge is based on the physical condition of the ball at the 56th over.
The ICC contend that
(a) As a matter of construction of the Laws of the Game, I should only overturn the judgment of the Umpires if I am satisfied that their decision as to ball-tampering was perverse, or involved bad faith, or was the result of a misinterpretation of the Laws. I should mention that Mr Gay, on behalf of Mr ul-Haq, confirmed that it is no part of his defence to these charges to suggest that any of Mr Hair's decisions were taken in bad faith or dishonestly.
(b) In any event, the ICC contend, the judgment of the Umpires as to ball-tampering was correct and I should agree with their conclusions.
The ICC's submission on my role is based on the Laws of the Game, in particular Law 42.2:
"The umpires shall be the sole judges of fair and unfair play. ...".
I cannot accept the ICC's legal submission. My function is to form my own view of whether there was ball-tampering in breach of the Laws of the Game. I so conclude because:
(a) There is nothing in the Code of Conduct which confines my role in the manner suggested by the ICC. On the contrary, paragraph D8(c) of the Code says that it is the role of the Referee to "investigate and adjudicate upon alleged breaches of the Rules of Conduct notified to him". See similarly D9.
(b) There is, in my view, a distinction between the Umpires being sole judges of events on the field of play (so that the Referee and an Adjudicator cannot revoke a decision to change the ball, or to award penalty runs) and the hearing of a disciplinary charge. If such a charge is brought, my role is to determine the facts and decide accordingly.
(c) Indeed, it would be very odd indeed, and very unfair to a player, were I obliged to find guilty a player who is the subject of a serious disciplinary charge and then punish him, even if I am satisfied on all the evidence that he is not guilty, but where I cannot say the umpires were perverse.
(d) The ICC were unable to draw to my attention any previous decision in which the role of a Referee or an Adjudicator was limited in the way the ICC suggest.
- I turn, then, to my findings as to the alleged ball-tampering.
- Mr Hair, Mr Doctrove, Mr Jesty, Mr Cowie, Mr Procter, and Peter Hartley (the third umpire who gave written evidence and was available for cross-examination) all told me that the marks which are visible on the ball meant that it had been interfered with by a fielder.
- Three witnesses gave evidence on behalf of Mr ul-Haq on this point: Geoffrey Boycott, Simon Hughes and John Hampshire. They told me that the ball was in good condition, given that it had been used for more than 50 overs, especially having regard to the state of the Oval pitch. The abrasions could have been man-made, but they could also have been the result of normal contact with the pitch, for example bowling into the rough or contact with cricket equipment.
- Having regard to the seriousness of the allegation of ball-tampering (it is an allegation of cheating), I am not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there is sufficiently cogent evidence that the fielding team had changed the condition of the ball. In my judgment, the marks were as consistent with normal wear and tear, and with the ball being pitched into the rough and contact with cricket equipment, as they are with deliberate human intervention. Furthermore, although of course paragraph E7 recognises that there can be cases where no specific fielder can be identified as having altered the condition of the ball, it is striking that with all the technology available for modern-day coverage of a Test Match, there is no evidence of any fielder acting in any suspicious manner. If, as the Umpires told us, the ball was in an acceptable condition after the 52nd over, it is, in my view, highly unlikely that the condition of the ball could have been changed so substantially thereafter by human action within a short period of play without some suspicious conduct by a fielder being noticed by an umpire, television camera, or third party. Mr Saini submitted that I should not reject the views of the experienced ICC witnesses. I have considered their evidence, honestly and fairly given, very carefully. But my duty is to form and give my own judgment.
- Given that the physical state of the ball did not justify a conclusion that a fielder had altered its condition, and neither of the umpires had seen a fielder tampering with the ball, there was no breach of Law 42.3. The course of action which I would have expected from Umpires concerned that, there may be ball-tampering would have been for the Umpires to draw Mr ul-Haq's attention to the marks and to tell him that they intended to keep a close eye on the ball after each over.
- The charge of ball-tampering is therefore dismissed.
Paragraph C2 of the Code states:
"Players and/or Team Officials shall at no time engage in conduct unbecoming to their status which could bring them or the game of cricket into disrepute ...".
- As Mr Saini explained, the ICC allege that Mr ul-Haq refused to play in that he deliberately refused to bring his team onto the field of play on two occasions. It is not alleged in these proceedings (see paragraph 1(2) above) that Mr ul-Haq wished to end the match. Mr Gay suggested that the way the case was being put on behalf of the ICC did not fall within the original charge. I do not agree; the ICC is alleging that Mr ul-Haq refused to play on two specific occasions.
- The evidence given by and on behalf of Mr ul-Haq was that he and the team had not come onto the field of play at 16.45 (stipulated time for the team, which ought to be present at that time) as a short protest because the Pakistan team was aggrieved at the Umpires' decision to find ball-tampering and to award five penalty runs to England. Mr ul-Haq told me in his written evidence:
"We decided on a short protest, which would take the form of our staying in the dressing room for a few minutes after the tea interval".
He confirmed this in his oral evidence. It was also confirmed by the evidence of Mr Khan and Mr Woolmer.
- The team did not come onto the field of play for a second time at 16.53 because, Mr ul-Haq told us, they were further aggrieved by what Mr ul-Haq and his team considered to be the rude and aggressive tone adopted by Mr Hair when he visited their dressing-room. Again, Mr ul-Haq and the team intended a short protest, after which they had intended to return to the field of play.
(a) Mr ul-Haq led deliberate protests against the Umpires, which involved refusals, for short periods of time, to come onto the field of player.
(b) Mr ul-Haq's conduct undermined one of the fundamental principles of cricket: that players, led by their captain, must abide by the decisions of the Umpires, however much they may disagree with them, and whether or not they have good reason for disagreeing with them. See, for example, the Preamble to the Laws of Cricket and Law 42.18. For a captain publicly to rebel against the decision of the Umpire to change the ball and award five penalty runs for ball tampering, and further to rebel against what the captain considered to be the offensive manner of an Umpire, plainly brought himself and the game into disrepute.
(c) This was a particularly serious example of bringing the game into disrepute because Mr ul-Haq's conduct prevented the continuation of the game, at least in the short term. By interrupting play, the protests were more than mere expressions of dissent.
- Whether or not the grievances of Mr ul-Haq and the Pakistan team were justified cannot provide a defence to this charge. Mr ul-Haq and Pakistan were entitled to take up their complaints with the Match Referee and with the ICC. But a grievance about an umpiring decision, even if justified, could not and does not excuse a deliberate interruption to play. Players cannot decide which umpiring decisions they accept and which they reject. As Mr Khan and Mr Woolmer very properly accepted in their oral evidence, the correct course for the Pakistan team to have taken would have been to play on as normal and to register any protest by legitimate means through the ICC. Indeed, witnesses called on behalf of Mr ul-Haq - that is Mr Boycott, Mr Hughes and Mr Hampshire - agreed that it is contrary to the laws and the spirit of the game to protest against the umpires as Mr ul-Haq did. They agreed, rightly in my view, that the circumstances may mitigate the sanction to be applied for a breach of the rules but cannot avoid the conclusion that there was conduct by Mr ul-Haq which brought the game into disrepute.
- I therefore find the disrepute charge proved on the basis that Mr ul-Haq led two protests in which the Pakistan team deliberately delayed coming onto the field of play.
- I turn to the sanction to be imposed after the finding of guilt on the disrepute charge.
- Paragraph 5.1 of the Code states that where the facts of, or the gravity or seriousness of, the alleged incident are not adequately or clearly covered by any of the offences specified in the Code, the person laying the charge may allege a breach of Rule C2 - conduct that brings the game into disrepute. Paragraph 5.1 states that the person laying the charge must specify the level of breach. Here the persons bringing the charge, the Umpires, specified Level 3.
- I agree with the Umpires that this is a Level 3 matter. A deliberate refusal to bring the team onto the field of play as a protest against the Umpires is a serious matter, for the reasons set out at paragraphs 40-41 above.
- The Code states that the penalty for a Level 3 Offence shall be a ban for the Player of between 2 and 4 Test matches or between 4 and 8 One Day International Matches.
- Paragraph 5.2 requires me to take into account Mr ul-Haq's prior disciplinary record. I have done so.
- I also take into account Mr ul-Haq's expression to me of regret and apology.
- There are two particular mitigating factors in the circumstances of this case:
(a) As a result of the match being forfeited, Pakistan has already been punished by the loss of a Test Match, a very severe penalty for a team.
In all the circumstances, I conclude that the appropriate penalty is a ban of 4 One Day International Matches. Such a ban, rather than a Test match ban, will have more immediate effect.
I therefore conclude:
(a) Mr ul-Haq is not guilty of the charge of ball-tampering.
(b) Mr ul-Haq is guilty of the charge that contrary to paragraph C2 of the Code of Conduct, he engaged in conduct unbecoming to his status which could bring him or the game into disrepute in that he failed to bring his team back onto the field of play on two occasions as a deliberate protest against the Umpires. The appropriate penalty is a ban of 4 One Day International Matches.
Finally, I should comment on one final matter. The witnesses agreed in evidence that player-management and effective communication is an important aspect of umpiring at international level. In my judgment, a difficult and sensitive situation such as that which arose in the present case (a finding of ball-tampering causing a substantial sense of grievance in, and protests from, the Pakistan team) requires handling with tactful diplomacy (as well as firm adherence to the Laws). This was an unprecedented situation. If (one hopes not) such a situation were to recur in international cricket, I would hope and expect:
(a) The Umpires would do everything possible to try to defuse tensions in the dressing room by explaining that a team is entitled to raise any grievance through the ICC but that it is not in their interests, or in the interests of the game, for the team to interrupt play.
(b) The Umpires and other officials should do everything possible to ensure the resumption of play. And they should not return to the field of play and then declare the match to be forfeited unless and until they are absolutely sure that the team is refusing to play the rest of the match. All other options should first be exhausted, involving discussions with the team captains and management.