Melbourne: Pakistan may have the dubious record of being involved in most of the ball tampering scandals so far, but a former Match Referee has sensationally disclosed that South Africa, too, resorted to such methods during Bob Woolmer’s stint as coach.
Woolmer, the current Pakistan coach who has been in the news following the ball tampering row in the fourth Test against England, was the South African coach when the tampering incident is alleged to have taken place during a ODI match against India in 1997.
The latest disclosure about ball tampering by former Australia Test captain and Match Referee Barry Jarman could shake the concept of fair play in the gentleman’s game.
Jarman has brought out a severely tampered ball which he claimed was used by the South African team during that match.
“The ball is only 16 overs old, yet one side has been tampered with and you can see where they have run their thumbnails down the seam which opens up,” Jarman, who had kept it a secret before producing the ball in his possession till date, was quoted as saying by a newspaper on Friday.
“The open seam (which caught the sweat) meant one side was heavier than the other,” he added.
During the match, Jarman claimed that he noticed the ball was being scratched by a couple of fielders, who later lifted their shirts and rubbed sweat into one side of the ball to make it a bit out of shape resulting in a different kind of swing.
Jarman said he immediately told the umpires to replace the ball which led to an altercation with Woolmer. “They all went berserk, including Bob Woolmer, who raced into my office and said ‘what’s going on'’ ” Jarman said.
“I said ‘your guys are stuffing around with the ball, mate’. I told him who it was and he went out with his tail between his legs.
“I said to him ‘if you really want to make something of it I can give it to the press and we’ll see what happens then, but I will just give you a warning to cut it out’.
“The two players later came up to my hotel room and apologised.”
Jarman said he was happy with his action as the players stopped tampering the ball. “I was happy to handle it the way I did because they stopped it and that was what I was trying to do. I felt the more low-key I could keep it, the better it would be for the game.”
Jarman, who refused to name the South African players involved in ball tampering, said the fact the ball went to two particular players sowed the seeds of doubt in his mind.
“I picked up the binoculars and started watching closer. Even when the bowler fielded the ball, he threw it to players specifically designated to mess around with the ball. “I saw Allan Donald (who Jarman insisted was not one of the players tampering with the ball) all of a sudden start swinging the ball everywhere on the television.
“I thought ‘hello, what’s going on here'’ I said to the umpire ‘grab the ball because I think they are messing around with it’. Once he looked at it, he said, ‘yes boss, they have, the seam is lifted’. So I told him to run a box of balls out and we would change it immediately.
“I kept the ball by mistake because the game finished and it was just sitting there so I took it back to the hotel,” Jarman said.
On the present controversy, Jarman admired umpire Darrell Hair for his stance on the issue involving Pakistan in The Oval Test.
“But I really admire Darrell Hair for what he has done in England. He is a guy who tells the truth and is suffering for it. He is one of the best, an umpire who can lie straight in bed.” (PTI)