Not all Aussie papers are writing in his favour though...
SO NOW we know it. Officials are more important than players, laws are more important than people, one man?s vanity is more important than the pleasure of millions, principles are more important than common sense, intransigence is better than decency, vindictiveness is better than compromise, trouble is much more fun than peaceful co-operation and a fat man?s dignity is more important than mutual understanding between nations.
These are all conclusions we can draw from umpire Darrell Hair’s disruption and destruction of the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at the Brit Oval.
The question of whether or not Pakistan were guilty of tampering with the ball is no longer relevant. The point at issue is how a single man’s pigheadedness was allowed to disrupt the fun of millions, to give cricket a terrible, gaping wound and to add to the tensions between Muslims and white Westerners at this, of all moments in history.
Hair decided that Pakistan had tampered with the ball and meted out the punishment for this crime. This is a serious accusation in cricket and he knew that it would cause a huge amount of trouble. But then trouble is what Hair attracts. If this had not been the case, the way to compromise would have been open. As it is, the rejection of compromise has done far more to damage cricket than any amount of ball-tampering could.
The Pakistan players were hugely upset by Hair’s judgment and by his punishment, the award of five penalty runs to England and the changing of the ball to one of the England batsmen’s liking. Pakistan played on until tea, but clearly, when the players got together in the dressing-room, the anger and resentment came out.
All the same, after a long while of parleying between various parties, Pakistan were, belatedly, prepared to carry on. England, equally, were prepared to play. The two cricket boards were also happy for the game to continue. In fact, the only person who wanted the game to stay stopped was Hair. In his mind, he had called the game’s conclusion and awarded victory to England, with the agreement of his increasingly hapless sidekick, Billy Doctrove. Therefore, the game was ended: Thus Spake Darrell. To continue would have been a direct insult to Hair.
Hair will argue that he was just standing up for the laws of cricket, that he was not foolish but brave, a voice crying in the wilderness against the too- often ignored crime of ball- tampering, just as he insisted on making a public fuss about Muttiah Muralitharan’s bowling action when there were ways of furthering the whole matter without melodrama. But melodrama is what Hair attracts.
He will also argue that he was standing up for the laws of cricket when he stopped the match and refused to restart it. If you read the laws, you will find that he is right. If you park on a double yellow line for two minutes outside the chemist to get some urgent medication for your dying wife, the policeman who fines you is also acting according to the law. He is also acting without humanity and common sense.
Hair’s philosophical stance is that the most important issue in cricket is the authority of the umpire. There are those of us who believe that there are other, wider issues that carry a greater weight. There are more important issues in society than the authority of policemen. In truth, this stance of Hair is not principle but pout.
It seems as if Hair sees himself as a man with a mission: his opposition to Muralitharan was ill-timed, but not half so ill-timed as this warfare on Pakistani sensibilities.
Hair might — just — have some kind of right on his side after he made his judgment on the matter of ball-tampering. There are no pictures to support him, though. Did he see someone working on the ball? Did he make his decision from the mere look of the ball? Big matters to decide on a guess. But if — if — he was correct in his view, he was right to make the judgment.
But he forfeited all claim to any favourable review of his day at the office on Sunday when he refused to allow the game to carry on. His belief that umpiring decisions are more important than cricketing action, is a heresy. It was, in truth, idiotic to appoint him as an umpire in this series. England and Pakistan have a history of trouble, Hair has a history of trouble. And trouble between Muslim countries and Britain is precisely what is to be avoided right now.
So thank whatever god you worship that the players have done so well in this series. They have duelled without quarter and without acrimony. They have played cricket as cricket is meant to be played — fiercely, uncompromisingly, decently, to the limits of individual ability, but without rancour, resentment and sulks. The rancour, resentment and sulks have been left to the umpires and so has the trouble. The first decision for the ICC to make is that Hair never stands in another international match.
This series has showed us that white Westerners and Muslims can get on in sporting opposition, or, for that matter, on the same team. The shame of it all was that one man’s overweening vanity had to spoil it.
source: The Australian