August 21, 2006


August 21, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
The title of this post epitomises what the ICC or the International Cricket Council is all about, that they don't have balls ! Well, Pakistan and England had to end what was quite a well conducted and well contested test series on a controversial and sad note, with Pakistan having to forfeit the final test, even when the match was still in favour of Pakistan to win it. The ball tampering controversy came back to haunt Pakistan after the incidents in the late eighties involving Imran at the helm. Only this time, the umpire involved in "accusing" Pakistan so to speak has had other controversial involvements in the game. The name is Hair, Darrel Hair !

The 4 match series was already pocketed by England 2-0, and this the 4th at the Brit Oval was the last test match and was a mere formality. When Darrel Hair, before the tea break got hold of the ball and believed that it's condition had been changed by means other than cricketing ones, he wouldn't have known the ramifications of such a decision. That he took the ball in his hand and then enforced penalty 5 runs on Pakistan, and then also replaced the ball, was indication of the fact that Darrel did believe that the ball had been illegally tampered with. It was obvious that the Pakistani captain and team alike were quite disappointed and aggrieved that this had to happen, eventhough they were in a commanding position, and when there was no evidence whatsoever to justify such an action by the experienced Hair, whose sense of common sense seems to be disappearing as fast as the hair on his head has too.

Post tea, after these events took place, Pakistan wanted to register a protest with the cricket officials that they felt they had been hard done by and were being wrongly accused of ball tampering. This is what the version was of the PCB head Shahryar Kahn. They wanted to delay coming on to the field of play as part of the protest even as Billy Doctrove and Darrel Hair walked out with the 2 English batsmen at the crease, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell. After having waited for a few minutes, and not having seen the Pakistani team come out on the field, the most controversial action of all happened, with the umpires removing the bails of the stumps, implying that in their view, Pakistan by not taking the field had forfeited the match. The drama had just begun.

ICC referee Mike Procter, it seemed was unaware of anything which was happening around. As part of the unfolding drama,Pakistan team was absolutely unwilling to take the field, and for reasons justified too ! They felt they had been wrongly accused and considering the match situation they had no reason whatsoever to do such an act. More importantly there was no evidence whatsoever of any ball tampering which the cameras could find out ! What Hair say, only Hair knows!For me it almost seemed he wanted to get into the thick of things, after having infamously called Muralitharan for no ball, because he believed he was chucking and his bowling action was illegal.

All this while, ICC seemed intent on keeping mum and watching the drama unfold instead of stepping in and resolving matters. It was the ECB head and the PCB head who had gone into conversation after the bails had been removed and then they walked into the Pakistani dressing room. It seemed some kind of a compromise had been arrived at and the PCB head Shahryar immediately clarified saying that it was a protest the Pakistan team had carried out and they were only too keen to continue with the match. All this while, no one had a clue what the umpires had meant by removing the bails. The gravity of that action was only about to unfold.

Pakistan stepped onto the field, led by skipper Inzamam, but that was all that happened. The umpires never turned up and if so, why would the England batsmen want to ? In retrospect it looks funny. The batsmen and umpires came first and left and then the fielding team came on to the field. It seemed there would be a virtual match, but with the protagonists coming and going at different times ! Whatever had happened, left everyone bewildered. Bewildered would be an understatement I guess, since, there was no communication whatsoever between the ICC officials the respective boards and the Pakistan team. Miscommunication would have been better since that would have meant some communication would have happened. But in this case there was no communication at all !!

ICC was still chilling out it seemed, looking at how a tri series got reduced to a bilateral series and then the Rain Gods intervened to reduce the bilateral series scheduled in the Emerald Isle to a non-event in every sense of the word. Cricket had come to a complete halt it seemed. The umpires by now did not want to step into the field of play at the Brit Oval while the Pakistani team was so to speak embarrassingly on the field, expecting play to begin. What on earth was happening was what all and anyone watching the proceedings thought !! Here were 2 teams,
willing to play, one of which was marking a protest which was thought of as a refusal to play and hence thought to be as a forfeiture of the match !

And then, the final word during telecast of the match was that the ECB, PCB, the umpires would sit and discuss as to whether there would be anymore play on the final day viz today. And the news that broke after several hours was that the match had been forfeited by Pakistan. The dilemma that the ICC had brought upon itself due to it's impotency at taking actions was that, the umpires had gone by the rule books and said, that since Pakistan didn’t turn up, the match had been forfeited. But on the other hand, the Pakistan team itself was ready to play. If the ICC had to force umpires to continue with the match for keeping the spirit of the game, the Umpires' panel would be deeply anguished, and would have been up in arms since what Hair did according to the rules were correct. And there could also have been an embarrassing possibility that the umpires might not even agree to take the field. Eitherways things had become so messy, that any decision was bound to be quite unfortunate and unwarranted.

Hair's reputation of being in the thick of controversies emerged yet again. Though he did his job, I can't but think of him as e nuisance and a liability to the umpires' panel and the cricketers alike. That he was impudent enough to make allegations against a whole Pakistan team without any sort of clear evidence speaks badly of his character. I strongly feel such umpires who have no common sense and no respect for the spirit of the game should be stripped naked and paraded in public. When you accuse a team, when you charge a player with chucking when all the rest of the world thinks not, and even goes ahead to say that he will continue to no-ball Muralitharan, how much of respect will any team have for such an umpire ? Umpires like these should be stripped of their official duty and the fact that he is in ICC's "ELITE" panel of umpires speaks even worse of the state of affairs of the ICC itself.

Head Back Home


F e r r a r i said...

Pakistan has guts. Its the reputation at stake. Unlike the cheeky BCCI, PCB is with its players!