You'll probably all know the outcome of this bizarre situation by the time you read this, so we'll try and avoid making rash predictions. We've not reached many firm conclusions anyway.
Here's how we see it so far: Darrell Hair thought that the ball had been tampered with. He gave England five extra runs and allowed them to choose a replacement. For some reason, he didn't particularly liaise with Inzamam or any specific Pakistani player about this. It was presumably just a general sense of cheating that he got, rather than any specific evidence. Evidence is overrated. You might as well just accuse the entire side. There's hardly likely to be much of a fuss.
Following this, Pakistan refused to retake the field after tea as a protest. The umpires went back in and then came out again a bit later and took the bails off, presumably signifying that Pakistan had forfeited the match. After some behind-the-scenes shenanigans Pakistan eventually did take the field, but the umpires didn't. More behind-the-scenes shenanigans ensued.
Now what can we take from this? Assuming that Pakistan were in full possession of the facts, they were well aware that they were forfeiting the game when they refused to take the field the second time. If that was the case, they can't really argue about the outcome, but this misses two key points: Firstly, Pakistan now wish to play. The series is already lost, so it's not like they've suddenly realised that they cut off their nose to spite their face - they actually want to play. Both sets of supporters want the match to continue and it seems fairly reasonable to suggest that England want to play - they can't lose the series and were making a decent fist of fighting back. The only people preventing play are the umpires.
Secondly, and most importantly, this all stemmed from Darrell Hair's decision to have the ball changed. He accused Pakistan of cheating, yet gave them no right to appeal. He can do this, he's the umpire, but perhaps another umpire might have communicated with the accused a bit more. Whether his allegations turn out to be correct or otherwise, he effectively endangered the match and later, given the chance to return to the field, he refused on pedantic grounds, not recognising an expedient solution to a touchy issue. Billy Doctrove too, although we think he's probably just a junior partner in all of this.
Maybe Pakistan were tampering with the ball and Darrell Hair was right. It's just why is it always Darrell Hair? It's not coincidence. He's always at the centre of any umpiring controversy. And he's fat.
Labels: ball tampering, Darrell Hair, England, Pakistan, umpires