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No Hair peace as Pakistan fumes over cricket chaos
by AFP


Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Player:DB Hair
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 21st August 2006

 

Pakistani protesters burned pictures of cricket umpire Darrell Hair and chanted "You are a mini Hitler" Monday as anger grew at the ball-tampering row that wrecked the fourth Test against England.

 

Sporting legends and newspapers also pilloried the veteran Australian official, who is already unpopular in this cricket-crazy country following a string of earlier controversies involving Pakistan.

 

Young cricketers and dozens of activists from Pakistan cricket legend Imran Khan's political party, Tehreek-e-Insaaf, gathered in the northern city of Rawalpindi adjoining Islamabad.

 

"We took out a rally from the Rawalpindi Press club and we have condemned the biased attitude of Hair against Pakistan," party official Syed Zahid Hussain Kazmi told AFP.

 

"He has disgraced the game of cricket, he has disgraced a nation and he has no right to wear the white coat," Kazmi told the crowd

 

Around 50 teenagers from local schools gathered at an Islamabad cricket ground and shouted "We want justice from ICC (International Cricket Council)" and "Shame, shame", witnesses said.

 

They torched newspaper photographs which showed Hair removing the bails at The Oval on Sunday, after Pakistan stayed in the pavilion in protest at his decision to penalise them five runs for alleged tampering.

 

Pakistan were later judged to have forfeited the game, handing England a 3-0 win in the four-match series.

 

"The students wanted to express their sentiments against Hair's decision," said Islamabad Cricket Association president Shakil Sheikh.

 

Protesters at both rallies chanted references to Hitler, apparently inspired by Khan's newspaper column in which he wrote: "Hair is one of those characters, when he wears the white umpire's coat, he metamorphoses into a mini Hitler."

 

"Pakistan captain Imzamam-ul-Haq and the team were in their right to protest. The pride of an entire people has been tarnished by his ludicrous and highly insensitive decision," Khan said in the Nation.

 

Former captain Rameez Raja said that Hair -- who called Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for "chucking" in Melbourne in 1995/6 -- is seemingly biased against players from the subcontinent.

 

"His arbitrary and insensitive style of judgement sparked an absolutely needless controversy that has put the Test match in serious jeopardy and brought infamy to the game," he wrote in the same newspaper.

 

Former Pakistani Test batsman Shafqat Rana said Hair's role in the "biased" decision on Sunday made it look "as if the Australian was looking to settle a score with Pakistan."

 

A dissenting voice came from former test cricketer Sarfraz Nawaz -- known as the "Sultan of Reverse Swing" for pioneering the technique -- who blamed the Pakistan Cricket Board for managing the affair badly.

 

"I think the PCB chairman, the coach and other officials instigated the captain to register the protest and ultimately spoiled a match which Pakistan had almost won," he told AFP.

 

Inzamam himself said he kept his team off the field to defend his country's pride. Ball-tampering is a sensitive issue here as the Pakistani team has faced similar accusations in the past.

 

The normally laid-back batting master, 36, was animated as he added that the ICC should not let Hair take charge of any more matches involving Pakistan, who have complained about his umpiring previously.

 

"Why does everything happen against us from the end that Darrell Hair is umpiring?" Inzamam told Pakistan's GEO television. "We expect the ICC not to put him in other matches (involving Pakistan)."

 

He added: "The pride of the nation has been hurt, we have been unfairly labelled as cheats."

 

Pakistan blamed Hair for what they said were a series of unfair decisions in the Third Test at Headingley which they felt cost them the match.

 

Last November Hair also upset Pakistan by ruling that Inzamam had been run out by a throw from England bowler Stephen Harmison back to the wicket-keeper during the Faisalabad Test, even though the batsman appeared to be taking evasive action.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)



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