Umpires suspicious of no-balls
Wellington - New Zealand umpire Tony Hill suspected Pakistan bowlers were deliberately sending down no-balls against England last month but did not link the tactic to corruption, a report said Thursday.
Hill and compatriot Billy Bowden officiated in the Test at Lord's, which is at the centre of newspaper allegations of a betting scam in which no-balls were deliberately bowled.
The claims, published in the British News of the World newspaper, led to the suspension of bowler Mohammad Aamer, along with captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Hill told Wellington's Dominion Post newspaper that during the match he and Bowden discussed the possibility that Aamer and Asif were bowling no-balls on purpose by overstepping the crease.
But he said they thought it was simply a tactic to unsettle in-form England batsman Jonathan Trott, rather than anything to do with betting.
"We never suspected a thing," Hill told the newspaper in his first comments on the issue.
"There had been the big overstep in particular and in our minds that was more a deliberate overstep to have a go at Trott, who had been batting so well.
"Billy and I chatted about that and thought it seemed deliberate, especially as it was dropped in short. But it all seemed to be one of those things that fast bowlers have been known to do to get an advantage."
The International Cricket Council has suspended Aamer and Asif, along with Pakistan captain Salman Butt.
Hill said the scandal had tainted his first experience of umpiring a Test at Lord's, regarded as the spiritual home of cricket.