England coaching staff used binoculars to monitor Pakistani cricket players they suspected of ball tampering during last year's forfeited Test at the Oval, former coach Duncan Fletcher has revealed.
In extracts from his autobiography, published on Tuesday by the Dail Mail newspaper, Fletcher also expresses sympathy for Darrell Hair, the Australian umpire who penalised the Pakistanis for allegedly changing the condition of the ball.
The decision saw Pakistan forfeiting the match after they refused to come out to field after tea on the fourth day, but Hair also ended up a loser after being stripped of his status as a Test umpire in the highly-charged aftermath of the match.
According to Fletcher, the England coaching staff were "interested in what the Pakistanis were doing with the ball".
He added: "We could not understand how they were able to get it to reverse swing so early in the innings. With the lush outfields, it had been a problem for us all series.
"Using binoculars, we began examining the Pakistanis closely in the field because we thought we had picked something up."
Fletcher went on to argue that Hair had been treated unfairly over a decision that had been jointly taken with his fellow umpire, the West Indian Billy Doctrove.
He writes: "Amid everything that happened on the day Pakistan refused to continue playing, I especially recall attending a meeting with Andrew Strauss, David Morgan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Zaheer Abbas (Pakistan's manager) and Shaharyar Khan (PCB chairman). Interestingly, Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach, was not there.
"At this meeting Hair completely lost his temper. Inzamam, the Pakistan captain, asked him why his side were being accused. 'You know what was going on out there,' said Hair sternly and got up and left.
"Doctrove backed him to the hilt but it was Hair who copped all the flak. That was unfair and doubtless it will mean that from now on umpires will not want to make the big decisions.
"That is not good for the game."
Hair was barred from officiating in Test matches in the aftermath of the Oval Test and subsequently took the International Cricket Council (ICC) to an employment tribunal, arguing that he had been discriminated against on racial grounds.
During a hearing in London earlier this month, the umpire dropped his claim and he has since begun work on a "rehabilitation" programme which could see him return to top-level umpiring next year, subject to clearance from the ICC.
Pakistan's Cricket Board, however, have made it clear that they will oppose any ICC decision to sanction Hair's return to centre stage. They maintain that the Australian umpire made a fundamental error of judgement at the Oval by effectively accusing the Pakistan players of cheating.