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A Hair and a tampered ball.

Umpire's decision is final. Every cricket player knows that. If given out, no batsman indulges in a sit-in hoping that the umpire would reverse his decision.

Final. Full Stop.

At the Oval, on a Sunday afternoon, the umpires were convinced that the Pakistani players played a little too much with the ball – which means they tampered the ball to make it reverse-swing.

Pakistani skipper also removed Umar Gul from the bowling attack. Did he do the unthinkable to the cricket ball like Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Mohammed Akram did in the last few years? Not to forget the tricks of the great Imran 'bottle-cap' Khan, who says he mastered the trick in the English soil – while playing county cricket for Sussex.

Too many Champions and Winners have been caught doping in the last two months. Floyd Landis, Justin Gatlin, Marion Jones – all have turned the whole idea of participating in sport into a shameful act of winning at all costs.

But hey, Pakistan cricket team hates umpire Hair. The argument is that Hair is prejudiced against all Asian cricketers. ICC has an evaluation system for all international umpires, if found inefficient – Hair would have been drinking beer at his favourite pub in England (Darrel Hair bid adieu to Australia to enjoy the pleasures of the different seasons in England).

If a certain has a problem with a certain umpire based on racial or historial prejudices... then those players should be playing backyard cricket. It is amazing how all these experts have been accusing ICC for being ineffective. ICC is the parent organisation, which is formed by the board officials of all the international playing nations. ECB, PCB, BCCI, Cricket Australia and the rest form the ICC. To suggest that ICC is a creation of the CIA/FBI or a company that manufactures WMDs to destroy innocent Asian cricketers is way too wrong.

When Wayne Rooney tried to tamper the balls of the Portugese player (who definitely play-acted as if he had been castrated), the Argentinian referee (Remember England and Argentina have a history of hatred thanks to the Falkland War) did not hesitate to show Rooney a red card. Rooney had to go, the Argentinian's decision was final. If you wish to complicate things further, as some of the experts and officials have tried to do after Pakistan forfeited the game, what happened to Rooney can also be described as the result of a Catholic-Protestant divide.

The Argentinians hate the Brits, on top of it – It was a catholic Cristiano Ronaldo who urged the referee Horacio Elizondo, who is also a catholic, to eject the protestant Wayne Rooney.

I just cannot see any class/race prejudice in what happened at the Oval. I don't see any conspiracy on the part of umpire Hair to deny Rupert Murdoch another day of cricket telecast and advertisement revenue.

Geoff Boycott writes, “The ICC must be blind or stupid not to have realised that there is history between Darrell Hair, the umpire who accused them of changing the nature of the ball, and Pakistan.” Oh well Boycs, Fifa should have never asked an Argentinian to referee England’s game!

Why look for a conspiracy when there has been a crime? The evidence of that crime can be seen on the tampered ball.

Another crime is that the game has been tanked. From a winning position, Pakistan threw the game away. The odds for an England win was so slim that many bookies would have lost a lot of money. No one would have expected Pakistan to pull of a loss from the jaws of victory in such bizarre fashion. Inzi has done crazier things in his career, once he ‘innocently walked back on to his stumps’ after smacking a six. His dismissal triggered a bizarre collapse and South Africa won the one-day game. For the record this game was played in Morocco and it was also the last time any international game was played at that venue. ICC had enough of it.

Almost every former cricketer and even the president of Pakistan have an opinion on the current crisis: Blame Hair, save Pakistan’s skin, and screw the ball.

Jonathan Agnew is the one person who has bothered to give a sensible explanation:

The penalty is imposed by the on-field umpires, and as long as they are as sure as they can be that the ball has been tampered with, they can act without any consultation with the captain of the fielding team.

Ball-tampering is notoriously difficult to prove.

In this case, there is no evidence from television cameras to support the umpires, and it is very hard to tell the difference between an innocent scuff mark, or deliberate skulduggery.

However, the umpires are trained to detect the difference where possible, and Pakistan's claim that the ball had been damaged by being hit to the boundary - and for six - is not entirely credible.

The ball in question had not been hit for four during the previous three overs, and was never hit for six.

Nasser Hussain on the other hand, probably coached by the Murdoch spin-doctors says,
“Did Darrell Hair actually see a member of the Pakistan team tampering with a cricket ball? Has he got proof? If he hasn't then he has made a massive mistake.”
Nasser is an honourable man, so was Brutus. It is not a must that Romans had to see Brutus stabbing Caesar. Is it a must that the judge has to witness a murder to punish the murderer? Nasser Hussain, the proof is evident: there is a dead body which tells us there has been a crime; in this case the dead body is the cricket ball. Another tragedy for the game is that Hussainism has replaced Sidhuism.

Hussain goes on to say, “If I had been accused of cheating in this way then, as long as I was sure of our innocence, I would have done exactly the same thing as Pakistan.”

According to Brutus, he killed Caesar for the greater good of Rome. Clearly Brutus didn’t think he cheated Caesar!

Simon Barnes, the Chief Sports Writer of The Times came up with pathetic piece of observation.

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.

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.

… 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.

No wonder Simon Barnes is a faithful slave of the Murdoch Empire. Maybe in Barnes’s Victorian England he finds only female whores! What sort of morality is he trying to slap on the face of humanity by writing these words, “Well, there are women who are whores, but you’d better be bloody sure of your facts before making the accusation.”?

I think writers in England are more qualified to respond to Barnes accusing female prostitutes of breaking the sacred moral code of Old Blighty. I have always wondered why these sexist beasts get away by accusing women of a moral crime. Is it because she accepts money in return for a sexual favour? If prostitution is an immoral act, a crime, then the man who buys sex should be punished first.

Simon Barnes proclaims, “Well, there are women who are whores.” I really don't know what morality Barnes upholds by suggesting that Hair knew “he was calling the Pakistan players the equivalent of a whore.”

I just wish people like Barnes and all others who are crying wolf and desperately trying to save the pride of the Pakistani cricket team realise – there is a tampered ball. And that the umpire made a decision based on the tampered ball. He did not award the game to England, all he did was to change the ball and award England five runs. Hair did his job as per the rules. If a group of former and current cricketers want to play under a regime of flexible rules – of appeasing television channels and sponsors – of putting up a smiling face for more money – they are more than welcome to do it in their backyard.

If you want to play Test cricket – stick to the rules. Ian Chappell says the law is an ass – there are too many laws that are useless. That doesn’t mean captains, former captains, and TV pundits can decide on an ad-hoc basis how rules should be interpreted.

It is interesting what Pakistani international player Shahid Afridi said in February this year, “If any team tampers with the ball then I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that.” In fact, Afridi wants ICC to make ball tampering legal, “They shouldn't make it so official that teams start doing it from the 3rd or 4th over itself. I don’t think any rule can make it official. But you should be allowed to do some tampering after the 30th or 40th over. The game and its rules are changing so this should also be allowed.”

Oh well, I wouldn’t take Afridi’s words too seriously. He is a young boy, who has been stuck on seventeen for the last ten years.

The law, for now, is crystal clear. You can’t mess around with the cricket ball.

ICC has the tampered ball in their custody. The question now is not whether Simon Barnes finds a moral whore or whether Nasser Hussain will find any substantial proof to convince him in the SKY archives (Murdoch’s Fox News was the first to declare that George Bush won Florida). The big question is – does ICC have the balls to kick Pakistan for breaking the rules?


Sans said…
A brilliant piece by
Geico Caveman

Please do read.

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