Ball-tampering affair: Sordid triumph of self-interest

Hair and Inzy erode the spirit through obsession with small picture

The Champions Trophy, which begins next Saturday, is dedicated to the Spirit of Cricket. Neither Inzamam-ul-Haq nor Darrell Hair has been invited to take part.

The two matters may not be directly related (though they may be), but given recent events it is probably as well that the pair will not be at the tournament in India as, respectively, captain of Pakistan and elite umpire. It is at least arguable that because of their actions each has inflicted terrible if not terminal damage on the spirit of a game both profess to love.

Inzamam will be absent because he has been banned for four one-day matches after being found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute when he and his team twice failed to resume play after tea on the fourth day of the Fourth Test against England at The Oval, and were thus sensationally deemed to have forfeited the game. He was cleared of the charge which led to those refusals, that of ball tampering, an offence which has now become as taboo as throwing.

Hair, the umpire who played the lead role in insisting that the condition of the ball had been altered, will not be in India because of what the International Cricket Council called "safety and security concerns". These were not detailed, and Hair said he had received no threat or indication of threat.

So it is possible to assume that the ICC, rather than saying that Hair has been withdrawn because he got it wrong and in doing so embarrassed the entire game, alighted on safety and security as, so to speak, a safe and secure option. Inzamam will resume his career shortly. Hair may or may not resume his, depending on whether cricket countries let him. There lies the rub.

Although both main protagonists in this pathetic affair have reaffirmed where pride leads, they have shown that the body to which they putatively answer is in a less satisfactory state. The ICC are a governing body, but only when their members can be bothered to let them be so.

There have been three significant recent examples of righteous mutiny. Some of India's players became involved in a spat with the match referee in a Test match against South Africa. The ICC took a firm hand by ensuring that the next match in the series was denied official status, but the sides went and played in any case.

Not long after, England refused to play a World Cup match in Zimbabwe, forfeiting it and their future in the tournament, and defying all ICC implorations. Sure, there were moral considerations, but everyone else in the ICC family went and they were never England's official reason. The governing body were defied again.

And then came The Oval. Pakistan refused to resume because of an umpiring decision with which they disagreed. It took more than a month for a hearing to take place and Pakistan are now refusing to play again in a match with Hair officiating.

In all those cases the ICC procedures and rules were undermined by individual members because they happened to disagree with the way they affected them in a particular instance. It does not help that cricket is played by so few nations that the actions of one can have a devastating effect. It does not help that each of those nations appear to think, when it suits, that their interests are greater than those of the game.

Collective responsibility is fine, so long as it is others that observe it. India last week decided they would refuse to sign the members' participating agreement covering ICC events until 2015, and are on another collision course with the ruling body - their ruling body.

The ICC look as toothless today as they can have ever done. That will remain so until their members allow them actually to govern.

Umpires may never be able to govern again. Their sacrosanct status has often looked at odds with the way the game has evolved, and demanded a delicate, humble touch to sustain.

The Spirit of Cricket, much vaunted since it was launched by the late Lord Cowdrey seven years ago, contains much romanticised tosh about the responsibility of the players. The Champions Trophy can assume an importance its designers never imagined it would take. The players must take control and seize the day.

It can be done, hope still prevails. At The Oval on Thursday observers left feeling shabby, whatever their view of the justice meted out. Yet barely a year before, the same place had been the scene of a joyous outpouring, the final act in a summer's play that had offered conclusive proof of what sport can do for the soul.

If the ICC (and their members) mean it, the Champions Trophy can help to recapture that. Whatever else was forfeited at The Oval in August, it was then that Inzamam and Hair forfeited their right to be at an event dedicated to the spirit of cricket.

Dramatis personae: What happens now to the leading men?

Darrell Hair

Hair knows the Laws, prides himself on applying them, understands that dwelling on inevitable mistakes is folly. But the letter of the Law in isolation is useless. Cricket needs robust umpires but they need humil-ity. In being determined to show his strength, he has weakened all umpires, and it is difficult (not impossible) envisaging him standing again.


Much guff has been talked this past month about the Pakistan captain's exalted status among his players. Maybe so, but delightful batsman though he is, he has often been petulant, exhibiting dissent to make his point. Refusing to play is the biggest deal of all and the Pakistan Cricket Board, rather than deifying him, would be wiser telling him to watch it.

Mike Procter

As a result of the referee's performance, specifications on roles may have to change. Knowing that umpires are in ultimate charge put him in an unwelcome position, but lack of a firm hand was dismaying. Failure to recognise potential consequences has done him lasting damage. Referees might also consider divulging when coaches and managers are harassing them.

Malcolm Speed

Under his chief executiveship the ICC look like a governing body even if they cannot always behave like one. May be missed when he is gone, which could be two years. Tries to play by the book, chooses words carefully, but it spoke volumes about the ICC's lack of clout (and Speed and Hair) that he failed to persuade Hair to change his mind.

Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game