CRICKET CONSPIRACY THEORIES….I don’t know if you’ve been following the great England-Pakistan cricket debacle, but to make a long story short it revolves around charges of ball tampering against the Pakistani team. The umpire in Sunday’s game accused Pakistan’s captain of fiddling with the ball (spitballs are OK in cricket, it turns out, but messing about with the seam isn’t) and ordered up a replacement ball after penalizing the Pakistani team five runs.

This is all a bit incomprehensible to those of us raised on baseball, where balls are replaced at the merest sign of a scuff mark, but whatever. The thing that’s really fascinating about this kerfuffle is that (a) the umpire declined to explain to the Pakistani captain exactly what kind of ball tampering he suspected them of, and (b) he still hasn’t produced the ball so that fans and the press can see what the problem was. All very weird. But a story in the Guardian puts it all in perspective:

During Pakistan’s tour of England in 1992, the ball was changed during a one-day international at Lord’s amid allegations that the change had taken place because of tampering by the Pakistani bowlers. But subsequent attempts to track down the ball proved fruitless and it is believed to remain under lock and key.

Seriously? This is like the Area 51 of English cricket. Nobody was ever allowed to see the notorious ball from the 1992 match and “it is believed” to remain under lock and key. Presumably in some James Bond-like vault deep in the basement of the English sporting equivalent of MI6.