... and Darrell Hair is not the only man guilty of it. He was just the first one, last Sunday, to set Stupid-Ball rolling (a Hair-ball, perhaps).
As a mere 784 different columnists and TV analysts have pointed out, there were 26 cameras covering that match and not one of them captured any footage that might suggest that the fielding team had tampered with the ball. Yet Doctrove suspected that the ball had been tampered with. Talked to Big Brother Darrell. And cricket had a bad hair day.
Consider Darrell’s options. He has a walkie-talkie which he can use to communicate with two other umpires AND the match referee. Does he call for back-up? For a second opinion? We don’t know, since they won’t say, but the evidence of the cameras suggests that he did not. Stupidity 1, Common Sense 0.
Does he talk to Inzamam and show him the ball’s surface, or ask him what caused the wear that might be considered suspicious. He does not. (This we know).
Does he walk over to the boundary, ringed with ad hoardings and concrete gutters, to check whether those might have scuffed the ball? He does not. Stupidity keeps scoring.
No, our man takes his decision alone and awards 5 runs to the Brits on grounds of ball-tampering. Mind you, he had not till that point seen fit to inform the captain of the fielding team that he considered them to be cheats and was taking action accordingly. It was only when Inzy shambled over and asked, that he was told what was going on. Stupidity, by this time, is so far ahead of the field that one would have thought it didn’t need any further help.
But wait. It gets better. Or worse, depending on how you look at it.
Our large sloth-bear of a Paki captain is rather like a road-roller on a downhill slope. It takes some time to build up speed, but after that it takes a lot of stopping. Inzy boiled until the tea-break, then fumed and decided to protest. Protest? I suspect the Pak team decided that enough was enough and they didn’t want to play any more. Rather like Gavaskar on that day in
I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s the rules, stupid. The rule-book does not say that the umpires have to come and cajole you to play. The Pak team took a decision. The team management should either have sent them out on the field immediately after tea, so that they did not forfeit the match, or they should have stuck by their guns and refused to take the field at all. By reversing their decision (which is what seems to have happened, Inzy’s story of “registering a protest through delay” is not very credible, nobody can be that stupid), they have lost some of the moral high ground. Pity. One would have expected better of the great Zed.
Oh, it gets even messier. Shahid Afridi – not exactly Mensa material even on a cricket field – goes on camera with revelations of how ball-tampering happens and how he believes that reverse swing is not possible without some tampering. Ye gods and little fishes!
But actually really truly deeply, the original stupidity can be traced to the ICC. This is a man who is regarded as racist or at the very least unfair to teams “of colour”. Was there no other umpire they could have appointed for this series? Or did they just want to prove that it’s their bailiwick and they can do what they damn well please? They may find themselves proven wrong. If
And oh, since we were talking about pig-headedness … The good news is that just about anybody can be a performing artist. Given sufficient strength in the trapezoids, erector spinnae and glutes, this is a surefire way to bring home the bacon. But wait, what if the single paying customer falls sick?
Perhaps they could offer to perform at the Oval for the fifth-day spectators.
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