Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thoughts about the Cricket

When institutions are in trouble - and Cricket is an institution - mistakes by individuals reveal weaknesses in their organisations. At the Oval last week poor decision making has revealed the game to be in the hands of immature personnel.

We the ticket buying public will never really find out the truth about the orginal ball ball tampering allegation because the offending object has been locked in an ICC safe.
But it was a mistake by the umpire Darrell Hair to rush into the situation without discussion with the Pakistan captain Inzamam, and the skipper then compounded that mistake by making another, which was to keep his team in the dressing room. This led to the forfeiture of the match and, incidentally, the robbery of cricket fans of their afternoon's entertainment. Everyone involved with the game should be ashamed that this breach of trust happened; even if the various officials can patch this mess up, the cricketting public will feel quite rightly that while they may be paying for the circus, the clowns are doing their own thing.

Having created an explosive row with racist dimensions, Hair then compromised himself with the offer to walk for $500,000. He's since characterised this as a rush of blood to the head; but if you read his e-mail closely it transpires that far from being a three line offer it's infact a many claused document which was almost certainly written with the assistance of a lawyer. Significantly it takes pains to leave Hair the option of legal action against everyone involved, even after he gets his pay off. And amazingly the ICC's initial response was that it might have some merit. There are figures in the Cricket establishment who are arguing that we needn't have been shown those e-mails. I'm glad we were.

Of course, nobody will resign, and this morning's papers even contain the fantastic notion that Hair might even umpire again somewhere. Nobody at the ICC seems to be considering their future, and of course Pakistan are laughing - they've no need to fear the disciplinary procedure after the people imposing the rules are now such ludicrous figures.

This is business as usual in Cricket which is played and run by many eccentrics with a taste for the good life. But it's paid for by real money earned by you and I; and if you sat in the fading light at the Oval wondering what was going on, or in front of an expensive subscription TV box looking at a closed dressing room door, you have a right to feel annoyed this morning.

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