28 August 2006

A Bad Hair Day

Waaaah! Waaaah!
As anyone who's even remotely interested in international cricket will be aware, there has been a bit of hoo-hah surrounding a recent test match in England, where the course of events went something like this:

1. Umpire Darrell Hair suspects Pakistan of ball tampering, so calls for a ball change and penalises Pakistan five runs

2. Pakistan refuses to return to the field of play after tea, as a protest

3. After waiting half an hour or so, Hair declares that Pakistan has effectively forfeited the match, and knocks the bales off the stumps, signalling the end of the game.

4. It's still to be determined whether or not Pakistan is guilty of ball tampering and/or bringing the game into disrepute.

Firstly, I love the fact that this happened while Sydney is still in the swing of footy season. To me, footy season is just a few long months thinking about the return of cricket season.

Secondly, I'm quite surprised to see the number of comments by journalists and letters-to-editors that criticise Umpire Hair and blame him for the whole affair. I gather from many reports that he's a fairly stubborn, pig-headed and attention-seeking umpire, but that doesn't mean that the Pakistanis were justified in locking themselves up in the dressing room for half an hour because somebody suggested they might not play nicely.

Sure, no proof has come to hand yet (as far as the media are concerned) whether or not the ball actually was tampered with. And Pakistan has every right to protest if the players think they've been treated unfairly. But it's not Hair's fault if they choose not to settle the matter with dignity, but instead perform the sporting equivalent of a two-year-old's tanty. The question of evidence is beside the point - Hair did his job in raising suspicion based on the condition of the ball, and the rest is up to the tribunal process, whatever that may be.

In summary, the Pakistanis did not forfeit the match because Hair accused them of ball tampering. They forfeited the match because they behaved like spoilt children.

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