|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Player:||Inzamam-ul-Haq, DB Hair|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 21st August 2006
(Article: The opinions expressed in the following new stories are those of the author only.)
ICC largely to blame as game is ultimate loser
By Christopher Matin-Jenkins
Brit Oval (fourth day of five): England beat Pakistan when the umpires ruled that Pakistan had forfeited the match
NEITHER the professional pride of the umpires nor the righteous indignation of the Pakistan captain and his team were worth the consequences of yesterday's abandonment of what had become an intriguing final Test match. It was held up initially by bad weather, but sabotaged later by bad blood. The ICC's decision can lead only to prolonged recriminations at a time when cricket should be helping sensitive international relations, not adding to their intensity.
It is hard to exaggerate the cricketing significance of yesterday's events, not finally concluded until the ICC ruled that England had won the game by default at 10.15pm. No Test had previously been lost because a side refused to play since international cricket made its official start in 1877. Both the five-run penalty for interference with the ball applied by Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove, and the initial refusal of Pakistan to resume playing, are unprecedented, too.
Delays caused by intransigent umpires, notably when West Indies came close to a strike in New Zealand in 1979 in protest at the home umpire, Fred Goodall, and again when Shakoor Rana refused to stand until Mike Gatting apologised in Faisalabad in 1986, are not so rare. They blighted the game at the time and have never been forgotten. The same will inevitably be true of this game.
If the decision had been left to the two cricket boards, the umpires, rightly or wrongly, would have been overruled. Their verdict was that Pakistan should lose the match, despite their eventual willingness to continue after making what the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Shahriyar (sic) Khan, described as a protest at a "grave accusation". It had to be an ICC decision because, since the early 1990s, the game's governing body has appointed the referees and umpires. Mike Procter, as referee at the Brit Oval, and Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive in Dubai, had a devilishly difficult decision to make between supporting the umpires - and, through them, the laws of the game - and considering the wider good of the game.
Even that was not simple because by overruling umpires who believed that they were acting in good faith, it would have been setting a precedent that their decisions are not as final as they are supposed to be. The alternative was to create ill will on all sides, not least from the 24,000 who were at the Oval yesterday and the 12,000 who had booked in advance for the fifth and last day's play today.
Recent relations between the England and Pakistan boards have been excellent, and between the two teams as good as they have ever been, despite two very competitive series in the past nine months. The one-day series starting at the end of August will give the opportunity for immediate repairs to yesterday's wounds, but the repercussions will not end there.
The ICC arguably bears the prime responsibility for the chaos that ensued after the five-run penalty had been applied when England were 230 for three, not because the adjudication was right or wrong, but because of the umpire who took first responsibility for the decision. Hair has been a controversial figure for a long time in Asian cricket circles. It was insensitive and unwise to appoint him for the last two matches of this series, not least because he had twice incensed Pakistan during the Faisalabad Test in November.
Hair was only applying the law correctly as he saw it yesterday, however, when he and Doctrove agreed that there had been unfair damage to the condition of the ball, then when they ruled that Pakistan had forfeited the match by failing to return at the scheduled restarting of the game after an early tea.
Whatever might or might not have been the justice of the umpires decision to change the ball yesterday, Pakistan's was a gross overreaction. There would have been great sympathy for them had they waited for the referee's hearing that would certainly have taken place at the end of the day's play in accordance with normal procedure. After all, the television cameras had spotted no illegal interference of any kind.
Shahriyar indicated that there were "strong grounds" for Pakistan's objections to the umpires decision, partly because neither Inzamam nor the bowler, Umar Gul, had been given any indication that they had suspected any foul play. Gul had produced a fine but very late inswinging yorker to dismiss Alastair Cook.
Andrew Strauss had been more conventionally leg-before during a fine spell of leg-break bowling by Danish Kaneria in the morning. Kevin Pietersen's subsequent 96 was wonderful entertainment and the game was nicely poised when the madness ensued. He and Cook had taken England to 183 for two at lunch, 148 behind and still in trouble. They would have been in a deeper mire had Cook been given out in the first over, caught off pad and glove at silly point off Kaneria for his overnight score of 33.
In a wholly fair game, Cook would have obeyed the old-fashioned convention of walking. A batsman who does not walk when he has touched the ball in the air to a fielder is as guilty of breaking the game's spirit as a bowler who uses his fingernail to rough up a cricket ball. There remains no proof, of course, that the ball yesterday was damaged by anything other than normal cricket treatment. That was exactly what Pakistan indignantly claimed, through the far-reaching protest of their captain, was all that had happened. It would have been better had the ICC ordered the game to be continued today, if necessary with different umpires, before any further inquiry into the condition of the ball.
Pakistan no stranger to bad Hair day
By Patrick Kidd
Our correspondent on how the Australian official has often courted controversy
TO SAY that Darrell Hair is no stranger to controversy is like observing that Kevin Pietersen is on nodding terms with his bathroom mirror. It was inevitable that the 53-year-old Australian umpire should be involved in something contentious this summer; the miracle is that he stood in two Test matches between England and Sri Lanka in May and June without any hullabaloo.
Hair is a veteran of 76 Tests, the fourth-most experienced official in the history of the game, so the ICC must feel the Australian is doing something right, but he has a knack of being at the centre of storms.
Already he is unpopular with Pakistan supporters after a series of contentious decisions in the winter series against England and the third Test of this series at Headingley Carnegie, where many felt he gave too much benefit of his doubt towards the England batsmen.
So aggrieved was the Pakistan Cricket Board after Hair's display at Faisalabad and Lahore in November last year that it considered asking the ICC to replace him for their series against India in January. Two years earlier, Hair had also raised hackles by reporting Shabbir Ahmed, the Pakistan fast bowler, to the ICC for a suspect action.
Yet his judgments have sometimes benefited Pakistan. In 2003, he annoyed South Africa during their tour to such a degree that Shaun Pollock, the fast bowler, was fined his match fee for telling Hair what he thought of his decisions.
In 1994, Peter Kirsten, the South Africa opening batsman, was fined 65 per cent of his fee for what Wisden called "an animated conversation" with Hair over leg-before decisions.
Hair again attracted controversy in 2000, when he no-balled Grant Flower, the Zimbabwe left-arm spinner, three times for throwing the ball. But the most notorious of the arguments in which Hair has been involved was in the Melbourne Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in 1995, when he called Muttiah Muralitharan, the off spinner, for throwing seven times in three overs.
Arjuna Ranatunga, the Sri Lanka captain, first led his players off the field, then returned and brought Muralitharan on to bowl at the other end, where Steve Dunne was the umpire.
Dunne later pointed out that the rules at the time were that any suspect action should not be called immediately but rather be reported to the match referee, who would have the bowler filmed, and that the ICC, not the umpire, would decide on the legitimacy of the action.
Hair received death threats, compounded when he called Muralitharan's action diabolical in his autobiography and when John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, weighed into the dispute.
Muralitharan had to be subjected to laboratory analysis to prove his innocence and after being subjected to ridicule from Australia fans, threatened never to play in the country. He returned last year for a tsunami relief charity match, which was umpired by Hair. The men said before the game that they had settled their differences.
Hair stood in his first Test in 1992, between Australia and India at Adelaide, and swiftly made his mark in a 38-run victory for Australia. Wisden noted that the game was marred by controversy over leg-before decisions.
A year later at the same ground, his judgment went against Australia when, with the home team needing one run to win, he gave a marginal caught-behind decision to West Indies.
In 2003, Hair moved to England, saying that it would cut down the amount of travelling he would need to do as a member of the ICC's ten-man elite umpires panel.
"I intend to be actively involved in umpiring for the next few years, whether it be with the blessing of the ICC or village mates in Steeple Bumpstead," he said.
If that is the case, club cricketers might be excused apprehension should they arrive for a fixture next season at the North Essex club and see a portly, bespectacled man in a white coat striding out to the middle.
Oval and out as umpires signal end in 'cheat' row
By Richard Hobson
A DAY embracing confusion and anarchy ended in farce late last night when England were awarded victory in the fourth npower Test against Pakistan. Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove, the umpires, refused to back down having brought the game to an end after Pakistan declined to take the field in protest at a penalty for balltampering.
Almost four hours earlier, a capacity crowd of about 23,000 had left the Brit Oval not knowing whether an intriguing game would continue today. A statement read by David Collier, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive, said that both teams, both boards and Mike Procter, the match referee, had all offered to put the incidents behind them and play.
The matter has cost the ECB about UKP400,000 in full refunds for the 12,000 tickets sold in advance for today and a 40 per cent refund for yesterday. Pakistan are also likely to suffer as the ICC considers sanctions for becoming the first team to forfeit a Test - though not today as the International Cricket Council (ICC) offices in Dubai are closed for a religious holiday.
However, the joint statement of the ICC, the ECB and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that Procter is to review the decision of Hair and Doctrove to award England five runs for illegally altering the condition of the ball. Shahriyar Khan, the PCB chairman, said that the decision had left the side "deeply aggrieved, upset and insulted".
The ball was 56 overs old at about 2.30pm when Hair instigated the change. Pakistan remained in the dressing-room after tea at 4.40 and the umpires then left the field, returning 15 minutes later with the England batsmen. When Pakistan again stayed put, the bails were removed as if symbolising the end of the game.
Law 21 states that a match is lost if the umpires think that one of the sides is refusing to play, but then at about 5.20pm, after a series of emergency meetings involving some of the most senior figures within the ECB and the PCB, Inzamam-ul-Haq finally led his side down the steps.
But he was back indoors with his players some five minutes later as Hair and Doctrove stuck to their belief that the game was over.
Initial talks continued for more than an hour before an announcement that play would not restart. Given the lack of information over the publicaddress system, the behaviour of the crowd was exemplary.
Last night's statement noted that the umpires were correct to award the game to England, which prompted meetings lasting until after 9 o'clock. Despite being isolated in their stance, the umpires could not be persuaded to change their minds. The result means that England have won the series 3-0 with the Ashes next on the Test agenda.
Shahriyar challenged officials to produce the ball and provide evidence of cheating. He said: "One or two management staff have seen it and they are convinced it looks like a normal ball that is 55 or 56 overs old. Sixes had been hit and it struck concrete. There is no evidence whatsoever of any deliberate scuffing".
"There should have been sensitivity and deliberation. The team wanted to register a protest and we simply said we would stay indoors for a few minutes. Then Mr Hair and Mr Doctrove came and warned the boys that the match would be forfeited and so on, which led to a further delay. I feel very, very saddened that it should come to this."
The five one-day internationals and the Twenty20 international at Bristol do not appear to be in doubt. Hair is not officiating in any of them and Shahriyar emphasised that Pakistan have no grievance with England. "I don't know what is going to happen in the future," he said. "This match has not been abandoned because of the English board but because of an incident brought to the fore by the umpires."
Pakistan refuse to play under Hair
By Times Online and Agencies
The Pakistan Cricket Board have responded to yesterday's controversy by claiming they will never again play a Test match under the supervision of Darrell Hair, the umpire.
Shaharyar Khan, chairman of the PCB, said: "We are going to make it clear to the International Cricket Council that we are not going to play under the supervision of Hair in any future matches."
The final Test at the Oval was forfeited after tea on the fourth day after the umpires had awarded England five penalty runs, accusing the Pakistan players of ball-tampering. The tourists initially refused to continue in the field following the decision and discussions carried on until late in the evening before it was decided England should be awarded the match while Pakistan have been charged under the code of conduct. They now await news from the ICC to see if they face further disciplinary action.
It was the first time in 129 years of cricket history a Test match had been forfeited and the ICC confirmed: The issue of charges to be laid against Pakistan will dealt with at the earliest possible time.
"We will be issuing a separate report concerning action which may be taken." Shaharyar claimed the Pakistan team, the ICC, the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB] and the match referee wanted to resume play but Hair would not budge.
"Even the match referee, Mike Proctor, was keen that somehow the match should be held on the final day and that some flexibility was needed to be shown by the umpires. But Hair refused to listen to anyone," he said.
We were also willing to give in writing that the umpires were entitled to change the ball and they didn't act outside the law. We accepted that.
What happened on Sunday could have been avoided. There is no doubt that the law about ball tampering is very clear but it is arbitrary and regrettable. The umpires didn't even bother to ask our players what had happened.
"We know for a fact that no ball tampering took place. Several times the ball hit the concrete when [Kevin] Pietersen was batting. The ball was in a condition one would expect a ball used for 56 overs to be."
He added: "They [the Pakistan players] didn't come out because they were wronged. The decision to change the ball was pre-meditated."
Saleem Altaf, the PCB director of cricket operations, made it clear that the upcoming one-day series against England, which begins on Monday in Bristol with a Twenty20 match, would still go ahead.
He said: "The one-day series has nothing to do with the Test. As far as I know there are no plans for the team to return home early."
Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, is blaming Hair, whom Pakistan complained about during this series to the ICC, for the whole controversy and called on him never to officiate in one of their games again.
"Why does everything happen against us from the end that Darrell Hair is umpire?" he said. "We hope this umpire is not standing in our next match. It would be good to avoid any more controversy. We expect the ICC not to put him in other matches [involving Pakistan]."
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer defended his side's decision to protest. "The team felt we had to make a stand and there was no doubt that the team was right to make that stand," he said. "We felt we did not cheat and the judge and jury had made a decision before we had the chance to make our case."
Inzamam's views were echoed by Imran Khan, the former Pakistan captain, who has strongly criticised Hair in his column for the Daily Nation newspaper in Pakistan.
Khan said: "Inzi should have reacted far sooner than he did. Had I been in Inzi's place I would have taken a stand right there and then when Hair decided to change the ball and accused the Pakistanis of ball-tampering."
I would have insisted on the managers of both teams and match referee coming out to register my protest. I would never have meekly accepted Hair's judgement the way Inzamam did.
"During my career I have seen such umpires who go out of their way to make their authority felt. Such characters court controversy."
Amir Sohail, another former Pakistan captain and opening batsman, felt the protest could have been carried out in a more "civilised" way.
"Most of the people who understand the anomalies are quite perturbed by the behaviour of the officials," he said. "But it should have been done in a civilised way, they should have made a statement at tea."
There has been a tense relationship between Hair and sides from the sub-continent since he first called Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan spinner, for using an illegal bowling action in 1995.
He also upset Pakistan last November by ruling Inzamam had been run out by a throw from England's Steve Harmison back to the wicket-keeper during the Faisalabad Test, even though the batsman appeared to be taking evasive action to avoid being hit by the ball.
(Article: compiled by the PCB. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individuals only.
Copyright © 2006 the individual writers.)