Video of Shoaib Akhtar “fiddling” the ball

He’s been cleared today. I’m not making any comment. Here’s the video for you to make your minds up. (click here if you can’t see it below)

The issue is more to do with Sky, than Shoaib…

Should ball tampering be legalised?

So, should ball tampering be legalised? Read these two differing opinions.

For: Andrew Miller, Cricinfo

Against: Steve James, Daily Telegraph

Vote below (click here if you’re reading from a feed) then leave your comments. Is this a dark art which needs to be kept as such, or should it be opened up (within reason; no razor blades or bottle tops…)?

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55% think Hair should resign

The results of last week’s poll:

Should Darrell Hair resign?

Yes: 55% (136)
No: 45% (110)
Total Votes : 246

Interestingly, the results were neck and neck until Hair’s email revelations.

Hair: ‘I’ll retire…but only for $500,000′

As if the whole situation could not worsen, or become even more extraordinary, Darrell Hair offered to stand down or resign…but only with a bounty of $500,000. What the hell’s going on? Only just got back, and no time to make sense of it – it’s Friday, and I’m pickling the liver shortly – but leave your thoughts below.

Incidentally the blog might be a bit dry the next few days. Hopefully Scott will feed and water it (and therefore you ‘orrible lot) but ’tis a busy time.

Darrell Hair offered to resign as a member of the ICC’s Elite Umpires Panel in return for a payment of $500,000, Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, told a press conference near Lord’s.

Speed said Hair’s resignation letter was forwarded to Doug Cowie, the ICC’s umpire manager. A copy of that letter was also made available to the Pakistan Cricket Board.

In the letter, Hair asked for “a one-off payment to compensate for the loss of future earnings and retainer payments over the next four years, which I believe would have been the best years I have to offer ICC and world umpiring.”

Read the full story at Cricinfo.

And here’s the full email transcript which is circling its way around, well, just about every site you can think of:

From: Darrell Hair
Sent: Tuesday 22nd August 2006
To: Doug Cowie
Subject: The way forward

Doug, just to firm up what we discussed earlier this evening. I appreciate the ICC may be put in a untenable position with regards to future appointments and having taken considerable time and advice, I make this one-off, non-negotiable offer.

I am prepared to retire/stand down/relinquish my position on the elite panel to take effect from 31st August 2006 on the following terms:

1 A one-off payment to compensate the loss of future earnings and retain a payment over the next four years which I believe would have been the best years I have to offer ICC and world umpiring. This payment is be the sum of [US dollars] 500,000 (£264,000) – details of which must be kept confidential by both parties. This sum to be paid directly into my account by 31st August 2006.

2 ICC may announce the retirement in any way they wish, but I would prefer a simple ‘lifestyle choice’ as this was the very reason I moved from Australia to settle in the UK three years ago.

3 No public comment to be made by me as to possible reasons for the decision.

4 This offer in no way precludes me taking legal action and/or instigating libel suits against various sections of the electronic and print media for comments made either previously or in the future.

5 This in no way precludes me taking civil action (and exercising my rights as a resident of the UK in any court of law and by any other avenue open to me) against any organisation or persons currently part of ICC and in particular, members of the Pakistan cricket team and the Pakistan Cricket Board.

I reiterate this is a once only offer and if I fail to obtain your agreement I shall continue to be available under the terms of my current contract till March 31 2008 to fulfil umpiring appointments as and when ICC sees fit in any country at any time in any series or matches involving any affiliated teams.

I would also insist that my ongoing contracted employment continue in its current form until such time as an ICC performance assessment deems me to be no longer able to perform the duties to the high class expected of an international umpire.

Would you please let me know at your earliest convenience of your acceptance or otherwise of this offer.

Sincerely, Darrell Hair.

What a hairy mess this is.

ICC: the white Commonwealth?

The sport cannot go forward until those two blocs are working together, and that can only be done when ICC is manifestly less of a white Commonwealth club. For the past 20 years it has, to all appearances, been a cartel run by Australians. Highly competent administrators, no doubt, who have for the most part – and despite an obsession with ludicrous money-making wheezes such as last year’s “SuperTests” – done a good job and raised the profile of the sport. But there remains an impression that the Asian countries are permitted into the halls of power on unequal terms. Only when they are equal partners will cricket start to embrace a 21st century whose face is likely to more brown than white.

The Asian countries’ belief that, despite supplying two-thirds of the money in the global game, they are endless patronised by white administrators is the cankerous root of the current crisis. It had to be confronted some time; it might as well be now. The long-term good will outweigh the short-term damage. It is essential that the next chief executive of ICC is Asian, and rather than be in swanky Dubai perhaps its headquarters should be in Islamabad or Mumbai. A bit of bending over backwards to make up for past errors may be in order.

So says Stephen Moss at the Guardian. Your thoughts, please. The more this debate rumbles on, the less it appears to involve the game. Has this incident with Darrell Hair and Pakistan more to do with the ever widening gap of relations between East and West in society? Is this really about ball tampering, or skin colour? I am of course playing devil’s advocate, but Moss raises some interesting points. Leave yours below.

Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?

Just had a brain flash, more often known in my world as a brain fart. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? If you assume the ICC as the court, or the judge, then Pakistan are the party being tried. But without evidence, surely this incident should not have progressed to its current state so quickly? Pakistan haven’t so much been tried as convicted. Not even the BCCI are coming to their assistance and bailing them out.

I ought to point out my stance on this, or rather my own confusion. I don’t know where I stand, because no evidence has been put forth. None of the 26 cameramen saw anything but, as I said yesterday, if Darrell Hair honestly believed the ball had unlawfully altered in shape then he was perfectly in his right to call Inzamam-ul-Haq’s team to account. Pakistan, then – in my opinion – ought not to have reacted so strongly. In doing so, they almost came across as the blushing cheater at the back of the classroom. That’s at least what they might have appeared to be: guilty. But their knee-jerk reaction was inevitable and fully understandable too given Hair’s notoriously gloomy reputation in the subcontinent, and past history with Sri Lanka and others.

Hair is no fool, though. Courting controversy over eleven years is not something an umpire can do without reason. He will have known, in his gut, the storm he would provoke by making these allegations; I simply cannot believe he is the heartless dictator people are making him out to be. He’s a straight-talking bloke merely doing his job, isn’t he?

All’s fair and rosey in retrospect, of course, but it’s an interesting thought comparing this incident to the legal system. If nothing else, at least the ICC should learn from this mess. Well…we can hope

BCCI (comb) back Hair, not Pakistan

Sensationalist headline, apologies for that. How about I improve it with the news that the BCCI are acting like a soothing, herbal shampoo for Darrell; that’s right, the India board have stated their allegiance to the ICC, not Pakistan.

This has many implications, some of them a little worrying; others rather amusing; most utterly fascinating. In short….had India agreed to Pakistan’s stance (and Sri Lanka’s too) on refusing to play in any matches Hair officiates in, the umpire’s career would be over. And that would’ve been the very start of the problems.

I stuck up the full fart in all its wafty glory on Cricinfo:

“We would never say no to any umpire that the ICC supported,” Shah told the Sydney Morning Herald. “If the ICC is happy with [Hair], then we are happy. Let us see a report first, and if Mr Hair has made a mistake, then we will see what happens. But it is up to the ICC to take action.”

Were India to side with the ICC and not Pakistan, a potentially disastrous situation would be avoided. Given Hair’s history – he has courted controversy with Pakistan in the past, as well as Sri Lanka – it is unlikely he will ever umpire games involving either of those two countries. And if India were to be added to that list, his role as an elite international umpire would be reduced to officiating in only half the international sides. Hair also cannot stand in matches involving Australia, his birthplace.

“If the Asian bloc gangs up on him and says, ‘We don’t want him appointed in our games’, there might be trouble,” Dick French, a former umpire and Hair’s mentor, told AAP. “He can’t umpire Australia as a neutral, so he can’t then just umpire South Africa, West Indies and England for the rest of his career. So that’s a tough one for the authorities.”

Should Darrell Hair resign?

On the one hand he has done everything to the letter of the law, and indeed upheld the laws and regulations of the game in his role as umpire. On the other, should he perhaps have given Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, notice of his fears about the ball being tampered with before docking runs?

Let’s face it: he should not have umpired in this series. If an official courts such controversy, and isn’t trusted by one particular team, the ICC should be reactive enough to accomodate. After all, Hair is no stranger to these incidents. Throughout this series, and certainly based on the feedback we have received on Cricinfo, fans do not like him; in fact they detest him, in some quarters. Imran Khan was even moved to call him a fundamentalist umpire.

What next, then? Should he stand his ground, be supported by the ICC and resume his duties? Or retire now with his reputation hanging by a thread? (click here to vote if you’re reading via a feed / RSS). Leave your comments below and vote.

Voting closed (see results)

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Inzamam-ul-Haq charged with ball tampering

The ICC has charged Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq with ball tampering, and with bringing the game into disrepute.

Both Inzamam’s charges will be considered during a hearing to be conducted by the ICC chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle. Madugalle has been appointed to chair the hearing because Mike Proctor, the match referee at The Oval, was involved in the incidents that took place on Sunday afternoon and is likely to be asked to present evidence to the hearing.

Inzamam has been charged, as captain, with a breach of level 2.10 of the ICC code which relates to changing the condition of the ball in breach of Law 42.3 of the Laws of Cricket.

Inzamam has also been charged with a breach of C2 at level 3 of the code which relates to conduct that brings the player or the game into disrepute. This charge was brought by Doctrove and Hair, along with Peter Hartley and Trevor Jesty, the third and fourth umpires, following a meeting on Monday morning.

Unless there is some photographic evidence that we do not yet know about, the ball tampering charge is likely to descend to a messy farce, with just the umpire’s word versus that of Inzamam.

The ‘bringing game into disrepute’ charge, I think, will be an open and shut case. The nightmare scenario is that if Inzamam is found innocent of ball tampering, and guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

Pakistan will then feel that they were found innocent, and punished for it.  The fact is, they are going to be punished for their ‘post tea sit in’. However, sides have been taken, and the facts are going to get lost in the noise and shouting.

Whatever the outcome, it certainly is not going to be very edifying for cricket.