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New twist in Oval Test row as ECB sets deadline

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London:The Oval Test compensation row took a new twist when the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) set Pakistan cricket officials a deadline of the end of the month to settle the dispute.

The ECB are anxious to avoid court action - but they are equally determined to reclaim the 800,000 pounds that was lost when Pakistan were deemed to have forfeited this summer's fourth Test.

The PCB have rejected England's request for compensation, arguing the International Cricket Council are to blame and should therefore foot the bill.

But England insist, as the innocent party in an extraordinary situation, it is not their responsibility to be chasing money that is owed to them.

If there no agreement by the end of this month, the ECB will take the matter to the ICC's disputes panel.

ECB chief executive David Collier explained: "The Pakistan board have been very consistent in saying to us that England are the totally innocent party and whatever happens England should not be economically penalised on that Test match.

"The argument, particularly following the hearing at The Oval, that Pakistan have raised is that there was a causal effect to prevent the game being concluded and Pakistan's contention would be that the claim should be to the ICC rather than to the PCB.

"We've now formally gone back to Pakistan and have pointed out to Pakistan that, in our opinion, if there is a causal effect then it is up to Pakistan to take up with the third party not for England to take up. So the ball is back in Pakistan's court.

"If there isn't an obvious resolution it can be referred to the ICC's panel. That is the proper course we would take, rather than engage in any legal fight.

"We will refer it at the end of this month if we have not had a response."

The Oval match became the first in 129 years of Test cricket to be officially forfeited after Pakistan, having been accused of ball tampering by umpires Darrel Hair and Billy Doctrove, refused to take the field after tea on day four.

Pakistan captain Inzamam ul-Haq was found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute at an ICC hearing - but he was cleared of ball tampering.

It is that verdict which forms the basis of Pakistan's argument that the ICC are responsible for covering the ECB's costs.

Pakistan's director of cricket operations Saleem Altaf said last week: "We have said in our letter that the Oval Test not being completed is a case of cause and effect.

The cause was when umpire Darrell Hair accused our team of ball-tampering and the effect was our team refusing to play the match.

"The ECB should realise that we have been vindicated in our stand on ball-tampering, which led to the effect. They should contact the person responsible."

The compensation claim could have been substantially higher than 800,000 pounds had the broadcasters and sponsors sued the ECB for lost earnings.

As it is, the 800,000 pounds comprises the 40 percent refunds handed out to spectators on day four of the Test, the lost earnings from the 12,000 tickets sold for day five, plus additional costs like security." AFP

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