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Hughes' official verdict.

Test umpire Darrell Hair was "guessing" when he punished Pakistan for ball-tampering, according to a key witness at captain Inzamam-ul-Haq's disciplinary hearing.

Inzamam was cleared of a charge of ball-tampering at an ICC hearing at The Oval.

He led a protest after Hair penalised his side on suspicion the condition of the ball had been altered during the fourth Test against England last month, which was subsequently forfeited.

Channel Five summariser Simon Hughes, who was asked to analyse the ball during the hearing in London, claimed Hair did not have firm evidence of anything untoward.

He said: "It surprised me. After 56 overs on a dry, fourth-day Oval pitch, it was in pretty good condition.

"There were a number of small abrasions on the rough side fairly typical of normal wear-and-tear on a deteriorating Test pitch.

"The only thing that looked slightly suspicious was a number of slightly curved striations concentrated on one area.

"I concluded those could have been man-made scratches but there was no way I could be sure. There was no hard evidence of ball-tampering.

"The problem was Hair was guessing, using the flimsiest evidence.

"The marks on the ball were not blatant enough for the drastic measures Hair took."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2006
Words:203
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