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
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 hearingwhich is
constantly being shifted back and forthalmost
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 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.