Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Unimpressed all around

I'm afraid, that in this Oval fiasco, much as I'm struck by the inflexibility of Darrell Hair, and by the fact that evidence of ball-tampering is still being held in abeyance, I'm unimpressed by a) the Pakistan team's reaction b) the subsequent spectacular fuss kicked up by the PCB, ex-cricketers, the press, and their fans. No matter what the charge, Pakistan's chosen strategy of protest was pointless, petulant, and guaranteed to be divisive. That Bob Woolmer did nothing and that Inzimam, as captain, presided over it, says volumes about the team's sense of faux self-righteous anger. Why not talk to the match referee at tea-time? Why go through this ridiculous business of sitting in the dressing-room, waiting for the umpire to come and ask you if you want to play? Surely, if not Inzimam, who has shown a remarkable lack of the laws of the game in the past, then Woolmer should have known that this could have led to a forfeiture? If he did, then the sit-in was an act of irresponsible brinksmanship. Hair called the Pakistani team on it, and of course, since then, both sides have painted themselves into corners.

And the less said about the PCB's reaction the better. Their reaction to Inzimam attacking a spectator with a bat during the Sahara series in 1997 was a few pious incantations to the effect "he must have been provoked" and then a mere two-match ban. (Eric Cantona got banned for a year for jumping the fence and attacking a spectator BTW). Their reaction, which hasn't yet included one single word directed at the captain for a possibly over-the-top protest, doesn't strike me as that of a cricketing board with its priorities straight.

Quick predictions: Inzimam will get away with a light ban, as the damage-control operations will start. Pakistani threats to cancel the tour will have some effect and the ECB/PCB will work out something. Hair will not umpire Pakistani games. But will stay on as a test umpire. The ICC will continue to function as a singularly incompetent entity. The match referee will maintain his usual asymetrical role: heavy-handed when not needed, and ineffectual when really required.

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