Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Huge victory" claimed over Hair's letter

Warning: This blog contains idle and unfounded speculation. There's a surprise.

The Pakistani Cricket team manager Zaheer Abbas has claimed a "huge victory" after the revelation of Darren Hair's letter to the ICC when he offered to resign for a $500,000 pay-off.

I am delighted that Mr Abbas thinks this and that, with the postponement of the ICC hearing into the cases against Inzamam-ul-Haq, it has been confirmed that the Pakistani team will be playing the one-day series against England.

The test series has consisted largely of very entertaining and excellent cricket. It is right that the due processes of the ICC are carried out very thoroughly and in a calm way. Giving plenty of time for both sides of the cases to be prepared is absolutely right and a huge relief. One of the saving graces of the current dispute is that relations between the England and Pakistan teams have remained very good (with the possible exception of the question mark over Duncan Fletcher's attempt to talk to the match referee last Sunday morning).

All the pressure has been on Hair, but we are yet to hear from Billy Doctrove, the other umpire at last weekend's match, who also took the decision to change the ball.

For what it is worth, I would guess that Pakistan will be found not guilty of ball tampering but guilty of "bringing the game into disrepute" by failing to emerge from the dressing room after tea.

There is a sort of justice and internal logic to that dual outcome. Umpire's are quite right to make "on the spot" decisions which, with the benefit of time, can turn out to have been wrong. The Umpire who is always right has never been born. I suspect this will be the case in this instance.

However, failing to emerge after tea (complicated as it was by the various comings and goings to and from the field of play) is a definite no-no and I suspect that Pakistan will be found guilty of this charge (which is far graver in terms of the possible consequences than the ball tampering charge).

From what I have read, the Pakistan team will be happy with this. I am delighted by that - it could be a just outcome all round.

I have to give great credit to Inzamam-ul-Haq. It has been said that his team "love" him like a father. This is remarkable and one might suggest, unique. However, one feels that the support and public relations work from the chair of the Pakistan Cricket Board and their manager, has not been as consistently excellent as it should have been.

One final point of idle speculation: I borrow the words of Dominic Lawson in the Independent.

In 2003, Darrell Hair moved to the UK and was quoted as saying:

“I intend to be actively involved in umpiring for the next few years, whether it be with the blessing of the ICC or village mates in Steeple Bumpstead,”

As Dominic Lawson wrote earlier this week:

"Steeple Bumpstead it is, then".

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