England win, Pakistan forfeit

Cricket was secondary come the end of play in a farcical day at the Oval, that concluded as England were declared winners via forfeit.

A century partnership between Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen had earlier carried England towards parity following their first-innings disaster. Andrew Strauss fell early, leg before to Danish Kaneria, before Cook (83) and Pietersen (96) enjoyed the most of the morning and afternoon sessions.

Umar Gul trapped Cook LBW, before umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove decided that the condition of the ball had been altered to such an extent that a new one was required, and penalised Pakistan five runs. Play continued until tea, with Pietersen slashing Shahid Nazir to a tumbling Kamran Akmal, and Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood taking England to 298-4 at an early, rain-induced tea.

Then the action moved off the field. At 4:35, the umpires declared the conditions suitable for play to resume, and took to the field five minutes later. The Pakistani fielders did not. Inzamam-ul-Haq and the rest of his side were still firmly entrenched behind their dressing room door, incensed and disgusted at their treatment from Hair, with whom they have a long history of disputes.

The crowd waited, uncertain and uninformed. Kamran Akmal appeared briefly to read the newspaper, before being ushered back inside as the team negotiated and debated amongst themselves. Twenty minutes after the umpires first emerged from the pavilion, at 4:55, they re-emerged, accompanied by Bell and Collingwood, the not out batsmen. Pakistan were again nowhere to be seen.

Hair and Doctrove removed the bails, signalling to many the end of the day’s play – and possibly the match. At this time David Morgan, the chief executive of the ECB, was shown in intense discussion with Shahryar Khan, the PCB chairman. The conversation appeared to have found a solution, and shortly after the Pakistan team were stepping onto the playing surface to a chorus of boos – forty-five minutes after play should have resumed.

This time, however, the umpires did not show; they had either already declared play over for the day, or awarded the game to England. Whichever was the case, what was apparent was that there would be no more cricket. The Oval crowd looked on in bemusement and confusion, and the venue where the Test match would be decided was now to be the committee rooms.

Four hours after the scheduled close, there was still little news on what the ICC verdict would be. Meetings followed conferences and rumours, and the Test was seemingly abandoned, awarded to England, and then back on. Finally, at 10:13, it was confirmed – for the first time in the history of Test cricket – that Law 21.3 had been invoked and England were the winners on account of forfeiture.

Law 21.3: Umpires awarding a match
(a) A match shall be lost by a side which
either (i) concedes defeat
or (ii) in the opinion of the umpires refuses to play and the umpires shall award the match to the other side.

What the repercussions are for Darrell Hair, Pakistani cricket, and the ODI series planned for the remainder of August remain to be seen.

England 173
Alastair Cook 40, Andrew Strauss 38
Umar Gul 4-46, Mohammad Asif 4-56

Pakistan 504
Mohammad Yousuf 128, Mohammad Hafeez 95
Steve Harmison 4-125, Matthew Hoggard 3-124

England 298-4
Kevin Pietersen 96, Alastair Cook 83
Shahid Nazir 1-26, Umar Gul 1-70

England win by forfeit

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