October 5, 2006

Hairy Oval Mess Continues ....

October 05, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
When the hearing of Inzamam's ball tampering charges and bringing the game of cricket into disrepute was finally over, ICC had managed to somehow wash it's hands off the entire controversy. Who remained utterly confused were the cricket fans . The ball tampering charges levelled against Inzi were cleared off him, but he was given the bare minimum penalty of a 4 ODI ban, in lieu of the fact that the ODI's would be the most recent cricket form to take effect through the course of the Champions' Trophy. So essentially, the action which Darrel Hair had taken, or what he thought was ball tampering ,was cleared. It didn't help Darrell, that the evidence he had, to prove the tampering charges were as few as the hair left on his head.

It's funny, that Hair whose head is precisely the same shape as the ground in which this controversy took place (i.e.The Oval,exaggeration intended), wasn't awarded any penalty at all ! Quite surprising ,since it was his immature action which led to the controversial forfeiture. Of course, the England team were never involved in this whole incident. But what did come to light a couple of days after this incident, was that some of the English players including the coach Duncan Fletcher had suspicions, that Pakistan team was indulging in ball tampering. This they cited to the umpires themselves, and Hair, who always loves the big stage, was always on the lookout for any kind of misbehaviour of the cricket ball.

When Umar Gul bowled an absolute peach of a yorker to trap Alastair Cook plumb in front of the stumps, with a ball which reverse swung quite a lot, Darrel Hair's hair must have stood up. And very soon, he discovered the sixth sense in him which would tell him that the condition of the ball has indeed been changed through unnatural means. And Inzi, for whatever reason, did not protest then and there, when the penalty 5 runs were awarded to England and the ball too was changed. Inzi's mistake was that he took up a protest regarding this action, post tea, which would prove to be the deciding factor in the cricket match.

As things stand, Darrel Hair has been asked not to officiate in the Champion's trophy, after BCCI sent a letter stating it's discomfort for the burly umpire, and PCB very soon made a public announcement that it did not want Hair to officiate in any of it's future games. The problem with the whole judgement carried out by Ranjan Madugalle, ICC appointed referee is that, it's ruling essentially means, that the Umpire has made a wrong decision. Because, 25 cameras at the Oval could not find any sort of ball tampering by the Pakistani team. So, all in all, while the players were satisfied that the right ruling was made, it was a slap on the face of the umpiring panel, who have the responsibility of carrying on the game, and making on field decisions with respect to the game.

That the umpires' ruling was made a mockery of, cannot be buried under the carpet just because Hair went unpunished. If his charges were wrong, which were proved to be, he deserved to be punished. On the other hand, he went by the rule books, and having had the right to make on field decisions as far players' behaviour is concerned, Hair seemed well within his right to do it. But, he needed to prove it with evidence, atleast on the field to Inzamam, which Inzi till date says, Hair never did.

The funny part is, the reason which led to the forfeiture of the match has been cleared. So, what happens to the match itself ? Will the match still stand as forfeited ? If that is the case, it would mean, that the ICC disrespects the ball tampering issue that Hair brought up, but very much considers his ruling of the game being forfeited as right as per rules. This is a huge contradiction and shows the ICC in very poor light. So, the authority of the umpires on the cricket field has taken a severe beating thanks to the ICC's prompt response(sarcasm intended).

Once the game was declared as forfeited, the ECB had to refund the tickets to the paying public, money worth 800,000 pounds. Now, ECB is asking PCB, it's Pakistani counterpart for compensation for the forfeited match. PCB has bluntly refused compensating for the same. And why would PCB want to pay ? It's support for Inzi's cause has been vindicated. So, PCB and Pakistan cricket team from it's point of view has done nothing wrong at all. But, if the game still stands forfeited, it's because Inzi did not come out post tea on to the field to resume the game. This was what led to Hair forfeiting the game in England's favour. And since Inzi has not disputed the charges of bringing the game into disrepute, PCB should be ideally paying up the ECB for the loss on the last day of the Oval Test. All said and done, quite a mess this, and Hair, for all you know may have received the 500,000 dollars he had asked for in return for his resignation. Maybe that money can be used to minimise the ECB's losses.