|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Player:||Inzamam-ul-Haq, DB Hair|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 22nd August 2006
(Article: The opinions expressed in the following new stories are those of the author only.)
Moral maze at the heart of one man's small judgment
By Simon Barnes, Chief Sports Writer at The Oval
IN EVERY walk of life, there are offences that are against the law and there are offences that contravene a higher morality. To be caught speeding is regarded as rotten luck, too bad, too many rotten cameras. Driving while seriously drunk is (these days) regarded as an immoral act: irresponsible to the point of wickedness. Cricket is tremendously keen on the higher morality. That is why controversies in cricket are so virulent, so far-reaching, and raise such extraordinarily high emotions. Yesterday, a small judgment about a small infringement of the laws created a day of outrage, distress and fury at the Brit Oval yesterday.
Pakistan were not accused of ball-tampering yesterday. They were judged and found guilty by the umpire, Darrell Hair, as they sought to halt England's second-innings resurgence. This is a profoundly serious business in cricketing terms. It is not like calling a woman a tease. It is like calling her a whore. Well, there are women who are whores, but you'd better be bloody sure of your facts before making the accusation. It's not the legality of her actions you are calling into question, but the morality. Pakistan were punished not for breaking the law but for - as cricketing people see it - attempting to subvert the higher morality of sport and human conduct. No wonder there is a fair amount of distress.
There is inevitably an undercurrent of racism here. Pakistan is regarded by some people in cricket as a nation addicted to ball-tampering. Pakistan players have been reprimanded and punished by fines and suspensions for the crime before. There is inevitable resentment at this. Pakistan feel hard done by: that they have been punished not on action but reputation.
For the first time in cricket history, a Test team have conceded five penalty runs to the opposition for the crime of tampering with the ball. Interestingly, five is also the number of penalty runs a fielding side concedes if the ball strikes a discarded helmet. But striking the helmet is not regarded as an immoral act, while tampering with the ball is an instant scandal. More than in any other sport, there is a requirement that cricketers act not according to the laws but to a higher morality. A fielder who falsely claims a catch is regarded as a cheat. He is not clearly breaking a law, but his action is seen as immoral. Scuffing up the pitch to help your own sideís bowlers is regarded as - well, a bit naughty. Itís done with the same intention as roughing up the ball: to give your side a bit of an edge. It is also illegal. It is less certain, and so is regarded as a venial rather than a mortal sin. But tamper with the ball and the consensus is that you are tampering with the very essence of cricket. This is a very curious and strong reaction. Cricketers play with the ball all the time: polishing one side of it, drying it, spitting on it, rubbing sweat into it, cleaning dirt from the seam. You are allowed to alter the condition of the ball in a manner unthinkable in baseball.
But cricket has carried its heavyweight moral baggage since it was regarded as essential to forming the moral characters of potential Empire-builders. That is why, when the line is crossed from cleaning and polishing the ball to picking of the seam, raising the quarter-seam and roughing up the ball, the offence is regarded as destructive not just of cricket balls but of cricket - and by extension, of morality itself. From there, it is but a short step to say that: well, the Pakistanis have never had any regard for morality. This is a particularly bad time in the context of the great world outside sport to be implying such a thing. No wonder, then, that deep offence has been taken.
One of the reasons for the deep emotional response to ball-tampering is the fact that if it is well done, by both tamperer and bowler, it is extremely effective. Yesterday, the ball had, indeed, begun to reverse swing, which is a devastating ploy when carried out by a suitably devastating bowler. But when it is achieved by illegal means, it is regarded, simply enough, as not cricket.
Not cricket! What a wealth of genuine decency, oppressive rigidity, moral confusion and out-and-out hypocrisy has been inspired by that phrase! And how curious to think that the breaking of one law of a game (but not another) is regarded not as naughty but as genuinely degenerate.
Players from all over the world, England included, have messed about with the ball since time and cricket began. Ball-tampering is part of cricket, a bad part, and therefore it needs policing. And it has indeed been policed. But because it is regarded morally - though not legally - as one of cricket's greatest possible crimes, the reaction is out of all proportion to the punishment.
All this, Hair, the umpire at the sharp end of this extraordinary incident, knew when he made his decision. He knew it was nothing like telling a batsman: look, you got a touch, you should have walked, now I'm telling you to go. He knew that it was going to cause a massive rumpus. He knew he was calling the Pakistan players the equivalent of a whore.
He also knew the scandal he would cause by refusing to come out and umpire a game when two teams and several million people were ready to carry on. Was it a taste for drama in a drama-prone man? Was it demoniacal moral rigidity? Was he standing unforgivably on his dignity? Or was he right about the decision he made?
Sky, not short of cameras or curiosity, was unable to find any footage of a guilty player doing some sneaky thing to the ball. All we have, then, is Hair's judgment:
Hair's punishment: Hair's abdication: Hair's creation of one the great periodic scandals in cricket history. All I can say is that he'd bloody well better be bloody well sure that he was bloody well right.
Outrage In Cyberspace
As a result of poor umpiring, it could mean the end of this year's tour of England. If the game is awarded to England, who knows if Pakistan would ever tour there again.
One of the main things that will happen, will be the end of Pakistan games being played with Hair being umpire. Every decision in the future that Hair gives against Pakistan will be taken by the Pakistani cricketers as unfair. pakistancricketzone.com
Why should Pakistan be subjected to the double standards that are going on? They have shown a lot more pride and dignity than the English team has ever shown under Fletcher [Duncan, the England coach] by refusing to participate in a farce.
I am sorry but this is an example of executing authority without proof. No warning was issued. No player was singled out. I am sick of Hair. If he has proof he should document it and show it to the world and then I will back him. Otherwise, if he made this assumption on a judgment call, then he should be fired as an ICC umpire. cricket-forum.net
Looking at the track record of those two umpires I have a feeling they are wrong especially as Sky have confirmed they have no footage and in Botham's words "they film everything". They have just shown some replays from the so-called tampering and there's no sign of it. Asif just cleans the ball in front of the umpire - same with all who had handled the ball. pakistancricketzone.com
Attack on Inzy's 'izzat' was the final straw
By Mihir Bose
At the heart of the crisis that hit the Oval Test are two simple factors. The first and overriding one is that the relationship between the Pakistan cricket team and the Australian umpire Darrell Hair has completely broken down. Indeed Hair is the 21st century equivalent of David Constant, the English umpire through the 1980s who so infuriated Pakistan that it led their captain at the time, Imran Khan, to call for neutral officials.
The other is that Hair's action in deciding that the Pakistanis had tampered with the ball, though without naming a player who might have been responsible, meant that for the Pakistan captain, Inzamam-ul-Huq, it was not merely a questionable decision but a slur on the entire team and therefore the whole nation.
As far as Inzaman was concerned, what Hair was doing was to call into question his own, and Pakistan's, izzat.
Izzat is an Urdu word that can be translated as 'honour', but it means much more than that, and izzat is a much prized comodity in the subcontinent. It is something that Inzamam, a quiet, deeply religious man, values highly.
Inzamam is one of those Pakistanis who passionately believes that a man can lose everything he has, including his life - but not his izzat. For him, the manner in which Hair took the decision as much as the decision itself meant that Inzamam's personal izzat, and that of his beloved Pakistan, had been besmirched.
It was in order to assert that he and his team were still honourable that the Pakistanis decided that they would delay their entry on to the field after tea for a few minutes to signify their protest and reclaim some virtue. Unfortunately, this protest backfired.
Hair took it as a sign that the Pakistanis were threatening not to play. He came off the field and, going to the Pakistani dressing room, told Inzamam that if his team did not take the field as the umpires walked out again they would forfeit the match. While this was entirely correct according to the rules of the game, the manner in which Hair delivered the ultimatum further infuriated the Pakistanis. Still recovering from being seen as men without honour, they felt further humiliated, and for some time stood shocked in their dressing room wondering what was going on.
As they did so, Hair and Billy Doctrove walked out on to the field of play - followed by the England batsmen - and then decided the Pakistanis were not coming and so took off the bails. It was only after they had returned to the pavilion that a still bewildered Inzamam started to lead his team out, only to find that the umpires had walked off and were not coming back.
In the Pakistanis eyes, if Hair's initial decision was a slur on their nation, then his subsequent warning that they would forfeit the match was hugely insensitive. All this would not have mattered had Hair got on with the Pakistanis. Imran used to say, comparing Constant with Dickie Bird, that Bird also made mistakes but unlike Constant did not rub the players up the wrong way. Players accepted his decisions even when they did not like them because they liked the man.
Not so with Hair. Pakistan and Hair have a history going back several years.
A story common in Pakistan cricket is that back in the mid-1990s, on a tour of Australia, Hair lectured the then Pakistan captain and told him: "I hope you people will not in this series carry on appealing like monkeys."
This may be an apocryphal story, but it is one that is widely believed in Pakistani cricket and, of course, has racial overtones.
Things worsened during last winter's tour of Pakistan by England, which Hair also umpired and where some of his decisions did not please the Pakistanis. They made their feelings about the matter very clear.
So the Pakistanis were most surprised when they found that Hair was to umpire in this series.
His appointment raises questions about the choice of umpires made by the cricket department of the ICC headed by former South Africa wicketkeeper David Richardson. Some Pakistanis are all too ready to see a conspiracy here. This may be fanciful, but it exposes the curious nature of inter-national cricket, where the ICC have nothing like the power that Fifa have in world football. They appoint umpires and match referees but the match is basically between the two countries and while the match referee can sanction players, it is the umpires that are supreme and whose authority cannot be questioned.
The ICC are powerless, and this match may expose that cruelly.
Woolmer: we didn't cheat
'I asked every member of the team, under oath basically, whether they had scratched the ball and to a man they said no'
Staff and agencies
Monday August 21, 2006
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer today defended his team against any accusations of cheating following the abandonment of the fourth Test against England. The tourists forfeited the match at The Oval yesterday after refusing to return to the field after tea in protest at umpires claims the ball had been tampered with.
The ball was changed during the afternoon session after being examined by umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove while England - who were awarded five penalty runs - were batting in their second innings.
"I think there was a genuine feeling that, by inference, we had been cheating," said Woolmer. I personally asked every member of the team, under oath basically, whether they had at any time scratched the ball during the innings and to a man they said 'no'. I went to ask to see the ball. I looked at the ball and came to my own conclusions. I didn't see any undue tampering with the ball - and in 38 years I have seen tampering with balls.
"It had been hit into the stands on numerous occasions by Kevin Pietersen. I didn't think there were any undue marks, but that is a personal opinion. Having asked my team I can concur with them there was probably just damage from concrete and whatever."
Woolmer insists Pakistan were intending to return to the field after making their point and had not intended for the game to be called off. By the time the Pakistan players did return to the field, however, the bails had been removed by the umpires and the officials were not prepared to come out again. Under the rules, the game was deemed over but Woolmer insists Pakistan did not learn that was the case until later in the evening.
Woolmer added: "We didn't find out out until 9.15pm that evening. If he [Hair] had forfeited the innings someone should have told us. It's a very black day for cricket. A lot of tough decisions were made on and off the field but I would like to say that I and the team are very sorry to the British public we are not playing cricket today. We still feel that to register a protest was the right thing to do at the time. We still wanted to play cricket; there was no case of us ever not wanting to do that. The whole thing could have been handled better from the word go."
Pakistan are now due to face England in a Twenty20 match and five one-day internationals, and Woolmer sees no reason why those matches should not go ahead as scheduled. "We all regret this has happened, we can't turn back the clock," he said. "But we are keen for the one-day internationals to go ahead. Let's hope, for cricket's sake, we can continue and carry and I don't see any reason why not."
A quiet word would have avoided farce
By Simon Hughes
Few people who were at the Oval in September last year would believe that the charade of the umpires strolling out on their own to remove the bails, thereby anti-climatically consigning the Ashes to England, could be exceeded. Now it has been. Yesterday's sight of Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove coming out on their own after tea, going back to the pavilion when no players joined them, then returning to the middle accompanied only by the England batsmen before finally tipping off the bails and departing the scene when the Pakistanis didn't show, caused an intriguingly poised match to descend into farce.
From examination of the laws, Hair, as the senior umpire on the field, was within his rights to assume the Pakistanis had forfeited the game once they failed to take the field. However, as a brave but inflexible official, he was applying the letter of the law rather than taking a softer line, which would have been preferable in this case. He could have popped into the Pakistan dressing room, asked what the fuss was about, established they were staging a small protest but were now happy to play, and this mess would have been avoided.
Unfortunately, that is not Hair's way. He is not one who goes in for being especially matey with the players. The law is the law, he has a tendency to be officious and has a habit of rubbing people up the wrong way.
In fact, the Pakistanis were already considering issuing a complaint against Hair before this Test. In their view he has a bit of previous, stemming back to the winter and including Salman Butt being fingered lbw the ball after being warned for running on the pitch and Inzamam given run out taking evasive action from a throw by Steve Harmison.
There were also a couple of edges the Pakistanis felt Hair should have picked up at Headingley. When he gave Kevin Pietersen not out, the batsman having got a big edge on to his pad to be caught by Kamran Akmal (a rare event in itself) Inzamam had a face like thunder. And the Pakistanis are not alone. Sri Lanka were exasperated with Hair earlier this summer for the number of possible lbws he denied Muttiah Muralitharan, the bowler he famously called twice for throwing, and a group of their supporters exhibited anti-Hair banners at Trent Bridge and enquired about making an official protest.
This debacle could have been so easily avoided with a bit of sensible on-field communication. Younger, more modern-thinking umpires make a habit of regular interaction with the players, having a quiet word with bowlers if their feet are creeping too far over the front line or straying too close to the protected area of the pitch, rather than taking immediate action. An umpire like the Australian Simon Taufel even attends the pre-match nets of the teams, and you see him running round the field before play and chatting to bowlers doing their warm-ups. He has established a rapport with the players which Hair, essentially a decent man, doesn't have. Hair is more like the traffic warden who slaps a ticket on your car the moment you've nipped into the off license.
What had the umpires seen on the ball, in any case? I studied stills of TV close-ups and could detect a couple of scars on one side of the ball. Such roughness can help bowlers get reverse swing by accentuating the drag on one side and Umar Gul had just sent down a couple of late swingers, one of which had Alastair Cook lbw.
But such damage on the ball could easily have been created by it making contact with the Oval stands Kevin Pietersen had recently larruped the ball into. And whatever the incriminating evidence, things could easily have been sorted out with a quiet word in Inzamam's ear.
(Article: compiled by the PCB. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individuals only.
Copyright © 2006 the individual writers.)