Saturday, August 26, 2006


Should Hair 'Ransom Demand' Mean Ball Tampering Issue is Forgotten?

It now seems as if the controversy over ball tampering is over, given that Darrell Hair has compromised himself by suggesting half a million bucks would rid the ICC of this troublesome umpire. The Pakistanis feel jubilantly vindicated and the one day matches will take place, saving cricket up to £10 million. But I'm not so sure that the fracas is truly fully over and can see some reason to continue with the enquiry into the ball tampering accusation. Two questions:

1. Was Hair holding the ICC to ransom? One school of thought suggests he deliberately staged the affair with a cash pay-off in mind. I'm sure this was not the case. He has recently spoken of continuing to umpire until the end of his contract in 2008 and setting up such a 'scam' would not be in any way consistent with his behaviour to date. More likely it was the action of a man, despite his outward impression of calm resolution, who was shaken by the consequences of his own decision. Whatever the motive, it proved to be a monumental misjudgement as it makes him appear, fatally, as venal and touched by corruption. His career was already in doubt before his emails were sent but after they was made public it has gone for good, at least at the international level.

2. Will the ball tampering accusation fade away by default? At present it looks like it will. But if there was good reason to suspect the Pakistan team then surely the case should be proceeded? In his Times piece today CMJ says that Hair 'became suspicious that the ball was swinging unusually' and that when he inspected the ball he concluded the 'marks on one side of the ball were the result of dleiberate scratching and lifting by the fingers or thumbnail by one of the Pakistan players.'

Surely Hair's original suspicions should not be left on the table uninvestigated? If there is evidence of something amiss, it should be thoroughly looked into for the sake of the game's future. If Hair has ruined his own distinguished career then the original cause should not be allowed to drift or be swept under any carpet.

1. Hair was just wanting to get out of a mess. He chatted with an ICC board member(presumably about a severance package), and then submitted the letter. If he was going to stand down, such a payment would be a formality. Very harmless and not material to the Pakistan case.

2. I think the ICC will follow this up regardless. They haven't abandoned Hair. The ICC have just got scared that they could get caught in the crossfire - I think they got bad legal advice, but I can see why they followed it. But Inzamam will still get rapped for refusing to play(guilty without doubt or mitigation). As we have said the ball tampering will depend on evidence.

This whole affair gets stranger by the day, and the attitude and comments of Pakistan and their board members are not helping one little bit.
I agree with Michael on this one. Offering to stand down for a severance package as compensation to assist everyone in getting out of a difficult position, is hardly 'holding to ransom'. As soon as he realised the situation had escalated he unilaterally withdrew the offer. Nor should Hair be dropped for this reason. Having said that, his judgement has been decidedly 'iffy' over this series and it must be questionable as to whether he can umpire at that level for much longer anyway.
No-one comes out of this scandal looking very good. Darrell Hair's e-mail does give credence to people’s portrayal of him as arrogant and the notion that such a payment could ever be kept quiet is rather impossible.
But he has revoked it, so I have to question the ICC's motives in deciding to publish a private e-mail between employer and employee. Malcolm Speed’s insistence that it might seem a like a cover-up if it came to be leaked is rather strange. Is it of public interest if Hair revoked the demand on the same day and declared it himself to be inappropriate? And it doesn’t say much about the ICC’s confidence in the confidentiality and security of their e-mails. The other reason they gave was that it impacts on Inzamam-ul-Haq’s hearing. How does it in any way alter the charges against Pakistan of ball tampering and bringing the game into disrepute? That is why the Pakistan team and other people’s assertion that this vindicates their actions seem presumptuous.
I don't see that Hair made a ransom demand. He had a contract with the ICC, and was asking to have that contract bought out. And it seems that discussions had been going on in the days before the released email.

If any party in this has acted out of greed, it is the ICC and there desire to get the money out of the one day series.... and they seem determined to get that cash whatever the cost for the integrity of cricket.
I think the 'ransom' metaphor was used by supporters of the Pakistan team who felt Hair was saying to the ICC something like: 'If you don't pay me off, I'm going to be part of the problem for some time'. I agree this was and is nonsense.
MM I agree the ICC's publication of the emails hung Hair out to dry in effect. But their legal advice was that it would be a disaster if this approach came out of any enquiry into the incident. Darrell should have left it as a spoken word communication: the emails seems damning.
I don't see why the ICC should not be worried about lost finance and it's about time the interests of the spectator was taken into account. If I'd been at the Oval last Sunday I would have ben furious, wouldn't you?
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