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Umpire Hair Was Acting Typical Ozzi

By Orin Davidson

Thankfully, the limited overs series seem safe.

After all the acrimony created over the Daryl Hair-Gate affair, it is a relief the powers that- be- in England have figured out a way to stop the bleeding by postponing the ball tampering hearing involving Pakistan captain Inzamam –Ul- Haq.

The embattled captain may also be sighing much relief, because he knows any suspension of him by the International Cricket Council (ICC) would’ve resulted in the quashing of the five England versus Pakistan ODI’s, thus prolonging the agony for him at the center of a storm that could go on forever.

Having already lost the Test series, Pakistan had positioned themselves well for a consolation win at the Oval although being one of the dead rubber type, when umpire Hair put an end to the former team’s happiness, with his ball tampering charge.

So far Hair has been verbally crucified in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but hailed at home in Australia, for his actions which culminated in the historic defaulting of Pakistan from the Test they seemed so close to winning, with England minus 33 runs ahead in the second innings with six wickets remaining and almost a day and a half left.

The reality is this controversy revolves around the cricket laws and the stake holders who act on them, who do not act on them and those who understand them.

In Hair’s case, his decision to award the game to England appears obnoxious by today’s circumstances.

But the laws are there and if one was to follow them to the letter, Hair cannot be blamed for disqualifying Pakistan and awarding the game to England, simply because the former team failed to take the field after tea.

Pakistan said they were protesting but it was haphazardly done. For one thing no one knew of it outside of the team circles as captain Inzamam told no one, not even Hair when he returned to the pavilion to inquire on their absence from the field.

If Inzamam had told the umpire before or during the interval, the rule might’ve been applied differently.

When Hair confronted Inzamam and got no answer to his question on whether they were returning to the field or not, he was given no choice but to act.

It can be argued that Hair could’ve been less rushed in applying the law, and be more sensitive to the needs of the crowd, but you cannot blame him at the same time.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) provides the officials with the rules and some like Hair apply them to the letter.

Again, when Hair ruled Pakistan had tampered with the ball, which precipitated the entire fracas, his decision seemed unnecessarily harsh, but then again, the rules are the rules and he interpreted them his way.

There is lots of talk of him not having proof of the ball being tampered, but does the rule require him to find irrefutable proof? That is quite clearly not the case.

Thus the aggrieved parties can complain all they want about Sky Television not having anything on none of its cameras of any player defacing the ball, the reality is Hair needed none of that.

Like most of the umpires’ decision making, it’s all subjective.

Although a ball tampering charge is a serious one, that borders on cheating, Hair’s decision making process is no different to any contentious lbw, catch, run out or stumping decision.

Again, Inzamam blundered by not taking action at the time he was made aware of the charge and a decision was made to change the ball. Former captain Imran Khan correctly pointed out that lapse, stating that he would’ve taken his team off there and then.

One does not have to be cerebrally proficient as Imran to make your team’s feelings clearer in a better way as it is a common practice of protest for captains to lead their teams off, at the time of incident. Arjuna Ranatunga was the last to so do, in reaction to an umpiring decision some time ago in Australia.

Had Inzamam done the same, the repercussions might have been different.

Of course no one could’ve anticipated Hair’s defaulting act, but one would’ve thought that winning a Test match was more important to Inzamam and his team than being charged for ball tampering, by none other than umpire Hair, given his contentious relationship with Asian teams in the past.

Inzamam was quoted as saying “This game is more about winning and losing, it’s about respect and countries come first.” One can understand the emotional patriotism seeping into his retorts to the media, but this “its not about winning and losing” mantra is one of the most over used in sport. These are the days when people have allowed money to control sport, and winning is everything among professionals.

Also, Pakistan is not the first team to be charged for ball tampering. Ex England captain Mike Gatting, Indian megastar Sachin Tendulkar and in fact one of Pakistan’s most famous fast bowlers, Waqar Younis were all implicated in the past. Significantly, Pakistan teams over the years have been penalized for other types of undesirable acts including fielding an over aged player in junior competition and marijuana use on tour.

So this show of saintly ideals, will not wash with many people.

Another effective form of protest for Pakistan suggested by another ex captain Javed Miandad, would’ve been to play the game under protest, win the Test and allow the administrators to take on the fight with Hair and ICC in the Boardrooms.

Not too long ago, the West Indies successfully achieved some measure of justice over a slew of demoralizing one-sided umpiring decisions in Australia last winter, by officially complaining to the ICC after the series. It was an unprecedented move but it had its desired effects.

In their very next series overseas in New Zealand, it was very obvious that the same umpires who made life difficult for the Caribbean side in Australia, went at length to make better decisions.

It is safe to conclude that Hair’s umpiring career is at the crossroads as no one will ever convince the Pakistanis and Sri Lankans, he is not biased against Asian teams or is not racist.

But when everything is taken into consideration, Hair is being none other than an abrasive Australian, and in his case an extreme one, who uses his knowledge of the cricket laws to express his personality.

To the majority of Caucasians, any other race is black and Hair has not at any time acted biased towards West Indians.

One of his most talked about decisions was giving out fellow Australian Craig McDermott caught behind to hand West Indies victory with his home country two runs from glory, in 1993.

That was the time when accusations of hometown decisions were rampant, and before the ICC implemented neutral umpires to ensure objectivity.

The West Indies had no reason to feel slighted then because of the color of their skin, or at any other time since, under Hair’s watch.

Apart from Hair’s latest contentious ruling against Pakistan and others including the treatment of Sri Lanka’s Mutthia Muralitharan, Hair’s behavior mirrors other abuses perpetuated by Australians on others in the cricket world.

It was Dennis Lillee who kicked one Pakistani some time back, it was another Aussie Darren Lehmann who sprouted racist abuse at some Sri Lankans years after, it was another one Glen McGrath who insulted West Indian Ramnaresh Sarwan with homosexual innuendo, it was Aussie Dean Jones who referred to South African Hashim Amla as a terrorist, it was an Australian newspaper which reported West Indies captain Clive Lloyd fixed a game during the Packer series, it was ex Australia captain Ian Chappell who bared his butt on the field …… and the list goes on and on.

So don’t don’t read too much into Daryl Hair’s behavior.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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