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Hair(cuts) and E-mail (Leaks)
by Gulu Ezekiel
Aug 25, 2006
The fallout of the Oval Test fiasco is bewildering and hard to keep pace with.

Cricket is neither used to being classified under 'breaking news' nor has it much experience of finding itself on the front pages of American newspapers.

All this occurs of course only when there is bad news to report. As if the repercussions of South Africa's abandonment of the tour of Sri Lanka were not bad enough, now we have the unprecedented act of a team walking out of a Test match, in a manner of speaking.

The latest startling development in the whole sorry saga that is rapidly spinning out of control is Darrel Hair's offer to quit, for a price of course.

ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed flew specially from Dubai to London to reveal to the massed media Hair's demand for $500,000 to step down from the ICC elite umpires' panel.

For almost a week now since the crisis first broke, the ICC and particularly Speed have been backing the two on-field officials, Hair and Billy Doctrove. That stand made the disciplinary hearing—which is constantly being shifted back and forth—almost irrelevant.

Now it appears Hair has shot himself in the foot with his demands to the ICC. And the ICC has hung him out to dry by making them public knowledge, despite the umpire's request that his letter be kept confidential.

Hair obviously found himself painted into a corner and under great stress as he has admitted after now withdrawing his demand-cum-offer. One does not know who his advisors were but they appear to have woefully miscalculated. Whatever the accusing fingers that had been pointing to the Pakistanis now are being turned onto the beleaguered umpire.

The whiff of financial scandal is once more regretfully in the air and Speed's refusal to rule out a suspension or sacking of his employee is a tacit admission that his controversial career appears to have come to a dramatic end.

As for the England and Wales Cricket Board, it has already lost an enormous amount of money after having to make refunds to spectators for the truncated Oval Test. It cannot afford to lose any more and the PCB are using their financial muscle to turn the screws on the ICC.

The forthcoming five-match ODI series is too much of a cash cow to be jeopardized in this manner. It is obviously a diplomatic move by the ICC to now postpone the hearing against Inzamam-ul-Haq till next month once the series is over.

That in effect cleverly nullifies the Pakistan team's threat to boycott the remainder of the tour if their captain were punished for the Oval goings-on.

Whatever may be Inzi's fate, and it still not certain that he is completely off the hook, Hair's goose looks to have been well and truly cooked.

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