Monday, August 21, 2006

 

A Very Bad Hair Day for Cricket

Being a cricket fan of obsessive intensity I have had to discipline myself not to write about it on the grounds that my blog is not the appropriate place to expose my summer game addiction. However, it seems events yesterday have catapulted the sport to item number one in the news; it was all over the Today Programme and the news bulletins this morning, not to mention the press. So here is my take on the vexed 'ball tampering' issue.

1. This is as much an umpiring issue as anything else. Darrel Hair has long been a bete noir of Pakistani cricketers for his supposed bias and tendency to make controversial decisions at the expense of their side. Allegedly too, his attitude to the tourists in the aftermath of their tea-break delay, was less than respectful. I would also say that a number of decisions of dubious merit went our way rather than Pakistan's during this series; I welcomed them at the time though with that guilty feeling all cricketer supporters will recognize.

2. Both umpires, led apparently by Hair, did not issue any warning to the players regarding possible ball tampering so that the problem, if any, could be nipped in the bud. Nor have they been specific regarding who might have committed a sin which at this level is seen as heinous. A cricket ball can and does get scuffed over time and the question of how the ball became so changed is crucial. As far as I could see on the TV, it looked no different from how any ball might look after a few dozen overs. The vastly experienced commentators on Sky Sports failed to spot anything suspicious and, one assumes, neither did those in charge of the broadcasts. Would it not be possible for the ball to be tested forensically for any human interference?

3. Initially it was Inzie's boys who refused to come out to play, but when both sides were prepared to do so it was the umpires who took umbrage and insisted the game had already been forfeited according to the rules. For the umpires to deny 20, 000 plus paying spectators in the ground, not to mention millions via television, the chance to view the denouement of an exciting match was shameful, especially as no explanation was given out over the tannoy and that it seemed the question at issue was merely the pride of umpires refusing to be challenged.

4.The International Cricket Council, seldom a body capable of quick and effective decisions, will now labour over the afermath but the key issue will be on what grounds Harrel Hair made his original decision. If his explanation fails to satisfy, then this vastly experienced but always controversial Australian international umpire will surely have kissed his career goodbye.

Comments:
I don't understand the game to me the umpire seemed a pompous idiot.

Sky had cameras and could see no evidence of tampering. Of course the ball will change after 60 overs.
 
Adele
Darrel Hair is scarcely pompous but, like quite a few Australians is opinionated and emphatic- hence the trouble his decisons have caused. I supect however that the ICC will back him up to shore up the rule that the umpire is alays right; this will only increase the damage caused to the game by this silly incident. Unless, the umpires produce firm evidence of the tampering...
 
I didn't mean pomnpous in the traditonal sense. I meant, seemed unwilling to listen to what anyone else was saying.
 
In that case I think you are spot on
 
Both sides (well... "sides"; Pakistan and Hair) acted pretty badly. It'd be a shame if this gets any more serious (ie; Aloo getting banned for a few games).
 
Al
I tend to think, along with Nasser Hussein, that the Pakistanis acted in a way which was understandable. Maybe Inzie could have made his protest at the time the 'offence' was punished with the 5 run penalty but some demonstration was inevitable given the lack of proof and the wounded pride of the visitors. No, the real villain was 'Big Dazza' I fear and if he dosn't produce convincing proof at Friday's ICC hearing he's toast.
 
I am quite surprised by a lot of what I have read here about this.

A few points. The umpire doesn't need absolute proof to take the action he did. No such proof would ever be available for this offence(even Atherton denied it when caught on video). The balance of probabilities is all there will ever be. We have neutral umpires and their decision is final. The behaviour of the ball after 40 overs was VERY strange, and I suspected something at the time as well. Pakistan should have shut up and got on with it after the original penalty, but England were looking dangerous in the match again from near certain defeat, and they were looking for scapegoats. Under the rules, no warning needs to be issued. In fact the rules make no allowance for any warning.

As for the abandonment of the match. The only decision. The umpires are the agents of the rules of the game. They are not supposed to consider factors like the TV audience being disappointed. Pakistan failed to show after tea and the right decision was made. They had forfeited the game. Coming out after 30 mins was just too late, and the umpires were absolutely within their rights to call the game.

The only thing coming out of the hearing should be a lengthy ban for Inzamam. A player of his experience had a responsibility to lead his team in a better way. All the protestations of innocence mean nothing. We all know Pakistan have been guilty of this in the past.

As for showing the Pakistani team a lack of respect. Well there selfish and stupid behaviour ruined the days of thousands of cricket fans. A bit of rudeness is the least they should have expected. All test matches have dubious decisions. It seems only the Pakistanis have turned this into some kind of vendetta against Hair.
 
M.O.
1.'Balance of proof' is one thing; total absence of preoof another.
2. I think it was 54 not 40 overs.
3. According to the letter of the law, the visitors should have come back out but they felt appallingly insulted at being accused of cheating: two former England captains said they would have made the same protest.
4. Sure, they may have been guilty in the past but it's the pretty distant past and no recent allegations of ball tampering have been made. Just because they have erred in the past fdoes not mean they are guilty THIS time.
5. Given the delicate situation I think hair should have been very, very careful how he addressed the Pakistani team; Hair is not best known for his tact and this was another factor in a lamentable situation in which the visitirs have been the main accused party in my view.
6. Fascetious final point: the former Pakistan captain called Hair a 'mini-Hitler' yet at 18 stone the Aussie must outweigh the Furhrer by some margin.
 
I respect all the points you have made, but you seem to admit yourself that Hair has done nothing but follow the rules. I don't expect the ICC to do anything but back him up. And so they should, his job is difficult enough without blantant rule breaking and dishonesty that has no place in cricket.

The point about Pakistan's past behaviour is relevant. They have denied in the past and we subsequently found these to be lies. Most of the Pakistan players developed in this culture of cheating and it is not impossible to think that some of them are capable of this. Just because two England captains have said they would have done the same does not make Inzamam's actions any better. Bigger fool them, I would be embarrassed if England had behvaed like this.

As for proof. Hair has reported spiral gauges in the ball. Tampering is the only way this would have occurred. The umpires regularly check the ball. They reported these spiral gauges on the ball appeared after a period when one boundary had been hit. How if not tampering? The cricket ball fairies? And then suddenly the ball starts misbehaving...after 52 overs. And the ball hitting the advertising hoarding makes a very distinctive round mark in any case.

The evidence is compelling - your defence is worthy of a better cause than this. I fear Pakistan protest too much. They look as "guilty as a puppy next to a pile of poo".
 
M.O. You have the advantage of me regarding the evidence of spiral marks on the ball. I haven't seen or heard of that so far until from you. As I said in my original post some forensic examination is needed to throw more light on what evidence already exists. I'm quite prepared to believe professional sportsmen capable of cheating- it seems to happen all the time -(except in archery says the Guardian).
 
I will bow to your greater knowledge of archery!

I have just heard that on Five Live. Was news to me as well. I think this one will be clear cut. The ball is available for scrutiny. I have played a lot of cricket, so have you. So you know that the natural wear and tear of a ball is a very predictable thing. I have never seen irregular marks on the ball. The ball tends to wear very evenly. If there are pars of the ball missing, foul play is the only explanation.

The only thing worse than being wrongly accused of lacking honour is...being shown to lack honour. I think this might shed some light on Inzamam's actions.
 
M.O.
Giving your snippet from Radio 5 Live I expected 'spiral scratches' to be all the p[apers this morning, not to mention the cricket blogospere. But not a sausage so far. Are you sure you heard it correctly?
 
Definitely heard it correctly, though I am too far away to know if it is actually true. It was the Radio Five cricket correspondent who made the claim(Pat something I think). I would have thought it was newsworthy. I heard the Chairmen of the Pakistan International Board saying some very strange things(ie. the ball was "in a rough state" because a number of sixes had been hit. Would depend what rough mean, some marks are only made by human hands).

It's been said before, the ball is the key(if you will), but til then I am inclined to believe two neutral umpires before one side in a match. And even if they are telling the truth, their protest as STILL unacceptable and they rightly lost the game.
 
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