Aug 23 - 29, 2010

Since Pakistan began playing cricket with England about half a century ago the test series between the two teams have seldom been controversy-free. The ongoing tour of Pakistan first under captain Shahid Afridi and now Salman Butt has so far been free from any major tiff between the players or with the umpires. Except for one minor incident when Pakistan's new wicket keeper Zulqarnain Haider was hit by a throw from an upset English bowler Stuart Broad in the second test, everything has been quite on Pakistan-England front.

However, with Pakistani confidence on its lowest ebb and pressure building up back home for better performance one could not count out the possibility of a batsman or the bowler losing his patience or falling prey to the intimidatory tactics of the Englishmen who would go for a white wash of the tourist after taking 2-0 lead in the four test series.

A small insignificant event may trigger an incident which would reinforce the theory that Pakistan/England series could not be without a controversy. Almost in all the controversies that engulfed Pakistan and England during the last fifty years umpires have been the villains.

The first umpire to attract the attention of the media was Pakistan PWD's umpire Idrees Beg. He created a huge furor in an unofficial test in Peshawar in the February of 1955 against the visiting MCC under Donald Carr. Pakistan won the test by seven wickets with AH Kardar taking 6/40 in first and 5/25 in second and Fazal Mahmood chipping in with 5/65 in second innings.

Unsettled by the finger happy Idrees Beg, the Englishmen tried to teach a lesson to the haughty Pakistani and in what considered a good humored incident the visiting cricketers drenched the local umpire pouring a bucket of cold water in Peshawari winter. There was huge controversy Idrees Beg accusing the Englishmen for taking him forcibly to the hotel while the visitors said Beg came on his own to their hotel. The incident almost created a serious diplomatic row between the former colonial master and an independent new nation of Pakistan. This was the beginning of the growing mistrust between the two teams. The second incident involving another Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana occurred almost 33 years later in 1987 in Faisalabad test. It all happened because of the poor understanding of English language by the Pakistani umpire who used the word "cheating" in a routine manner to describe England captain Mike Gatting's action to move a fielding as ball was to be bowled.

Mike Gatting took exception to the use of the word. It started an unprecedented row that brought the test to a halt with Shakoor Rana demanding an apology and Mike Gatting refusing it. The entire third day play was lost and the tour was nearly called off.

The most infamous of all the incidents involving an umpire occurred in 2006 where Darrell Hair fined Pakistan team led by Inzazamul Haq five runs for ball tempering. Incensed by Hair's uncalled for action Inzamamul Haq in protest refused to take up the field after tea on the fourth day. All came to a stand still at the Oval and his partner Billy Doctrove declared that the test had been forfeited in favour of host England. This was the first time in 129 years of history that a test has been awarded through forfeiture. The incident also ended the umpiring career of Hair who was ousted from ICC elite panel of umpires.

Another English umpire Roy Palmer was caught in a controversy with Pakistan team touring England under Javed Miandad in 1992. It all happened with a misunderstanding but there such a shortage of trust that even an ordinary mistake erupted in Javed Miandad openly protesting against Roy Palmer who allegedly rudely handed over the sweater to bowler Aaquib Javed after he had completed his spell. This had happened shortly after Palmer had warned Aaquib Javed of intimidatory bowling at an English player at old Trafford.

Javed Miandad found Palmers behaviour as insulting and disrespectful. About a decade earlier in 19982 umpire David Constant was embroiled in a controversy involving Sikander Bakht whom he had given caught off the pad which cost Pakistan the test at Healingly. When England toured England in 1987 Imran Khan asked that Constant was not given the duty to supervise but the then TCCB (now ECB) refused the request. Manager of Pakistan team Haseeb Ahsan even went to describe the umpire as disgrace.

Ian Botham's comment describing Pakistan as a place to send one mother in law after a tour of Pakistan in 1983 also triggered controversy. The mistrust of Pakistan and England against their umpire was such that even a minor mistake was interpreted as intentional.

Such thing happened when a Pakistani umpire Shakeel Khan gave Chris Broad caught behind off pads. Broad refused to leave the crease until batsman at the other end Graham Gooch persuaded him to go.

Allegations of ball tempering also stoked the fire of mistrust. Pakistan's pace duo Wasim Akram and Waqar Younus had the natural ability to reverse swing the ball some thing no other pacer could do. But the English umpires felt the two could not do it without interfering with the red cherry. Rumors were awash that the pacers were using bottle tops, finger nails for ball tempering. The genius of Wasim and Waqar pinned the English batting order on the mat.

Ignorance of rules cost Pakistan defeat its first at the National Stadium when umpire Steve Bucknor took the right decision of giving a chance to England to go for victory target. Moin Khan was not aware about the rule and intentionally advised his bowlers to go slow. It was no excuse for Pakistani skipper Moin Khan at Karachi test in 2000 at the National Stadium where Pakistan has never lost a test but things were to change. Unaware of the simple rule Moin Khan used delaying tactics as England inched towards victory. Moin thought that umpires Steve Bucknor would be forced to call off the test as the light became too dull to continue the match. Bucknor who had noticed slow bowling from Pakistan kept the match on even in near darkness until England won. In another bizarre incident Pakistan's Shahid Afridi in 2005-06 was caught spiking the good length spot in the second test. He was caught on a camera and was suspended for one test and two one dayers.