Hair defiant but one-day series likely to go ahead
Wednesday 23 August 2006
While Darrell Hair, the Australian umpire at the centre of the ball-tampering row, remained defiant last night, the threat overshadowing the one-day series looked to have been lifted and the confusion surrounding Duncan Fletcher's role in the affair cleared up.
Hair, 53, finally ended his silence and announced in an Australian newspaper that he believes his actions that led to the Test match between Pakistan and England at the Oval being forfeited on Sunday by the tourists to be correct.
"I stand by what I have done," Hair said in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. "People who know me, and the sort of person I am, know I would not take any action unless I really thought it was necessary, but if anything comes out at the inquiry that proves me incorrect I would accept that, too. The process would have been followed."
When The Independent attempted to speak to Hair, who is now based in England and living in Lincolnshire, he was less forthcoming. Asked if he would answer a couple of questions he replied: "No. If you're experienced enough you should know that there is a hearing Friday, so I can't say anything to you. I know exactly what you are going to ask, so it's useless you asking the questions. It's just wasting both our time."
And when it was put to him that he had already spoken to a journalist Down Under Hair responded with: "Well, the good thing about this world is that we all have choices. I can choose to talk to a friend if I want to talk to a friend."
He clearly felt he had been given a hard time in his adopted country. "I'll be putting a lot to [sic] my side when this is all over. I have been vilified by virtually everybody here and when the truth comes out a lot of people will pay. So that's all I can say."
The final question put to Hair, who is on the England and Wales Cricket Board's First Class Umpires reserve list which means he can stand in second XI and certain first class fixtures, asked him if he felt that umpiring was under threat.
Hair's response was: "There's a lot of things under threat and you people [the media] are probably responsible for a lot of them, so take a good hard look and maybe you might understand that a lot of the problems in the world are caused by the media and not the people who are actually doing a job. That's all I've got to say. Bye bye."
Hair, who has been involved in several controversies with Asian teams during his 15 years of top flight umpiring, had sparked Sunday's row by examining the 56-over-old ball being used by Pakistan in the England second innings and had decided its condition had been changed - that is, one or more Pakistan players had been tampering with the surface to alter the aerodynamics - and awarded England five penalty runs.
This incensed the Pakistan team and they refused to come out and resume play after the tea interval, which led to them being deemed to have forfeited the match - the first such result in the game's history.
But Hair denied that he had a problem with officiating in matches involving teams from the subcontinent - Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
"There is no problem with me and the subcontinent. I have umpired quite a lot in the subcontinent over the last couple of years and when the ICC have asked me to do a job I try and do it to the best of my ability."
Unsurprisingly, a note of paranoia crept into the interview when Hair said: "If people want to try and force me out of the game it has to be done in some shape or form that I am unaware of, because I am contracted to do a job and I know I am doing it quite well at the moment so far as the ins and outs are concerned.
"If other people have issues they want to use to force me out it will be an interesting battle."
At least there were mollifying noises emanating from the Pakistan camp yesterday. While Inzamam-ul-Haq faces the prospect of a one-Test ban for the ball-tampering charge and a four-Test suspension if the case of bringing the game into disrepute results in a guilty verdict, the Pakistan coach, Bob Woolmer, yesterday suggested that the forthcoming Twenty20 match and the five-match NatWest one-day international series would go ahead.
"We want to play. We need the one-day series to prepare for the World Cup," he said. "We need to get rid of this polarisation and we want to bring the two parties [Pakistan and England] together again.
"We are all trying to get our heads around what has happened but we are keen to play the one-day internationals and play cricket - that is why we are here - but this has all taken us to another level and it is difficult to come to terms with."
It looks as if the tourists' warm-up match against Middlesex tomorrow against Middlesex at Uxbridge is also going ahead, although because of the extra interest following last Sunday's debacle, there will be an increased police presence and the county has also drafted in more bodies from the Green Team, the private security firm which supplies stewards.
Meanwhile, the confusion over a visit by Fletcher, the England coach, to the match referee, Mike Procter, before play on Sunday morning looks to have been resolved.
The ECB explained that although Fletcher did try to see the referee, Procter was not in the room - only the third and fourth umpires, Peter Hartley and Trevor Jesty were present.
Jesty said: "Duncan Fletcher did look in but all he said was he wanted to have a word with Mike Procter. Then he left."
Withdrawal: The cost of a boycott
Here are the financial implications should Pakistan withdraw from the one-day international series
Sky (+Channel Five) deal is worth £220m over four years. Therefore £55m per season, of which £18m is allocated to the 10 one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
ODIs are worth more commercially than the Tests, so it is likely that each ODI and Twenty20 match would be worth about £1.5m of the TV money. Pakistan are due to play five ODIs and one Twenty20 match.
5 x ODIs £7.5m
Potential total loss: £9m
Then, of course, there are gate receipts and the unknown total of advertising around the ground for the televised matches and sundry sponsorships.
Payments to Pakistan
The Pakistan team are paid collectively. Their fee for each one-day international is between £5,000 and £6,000. For a Test, the collective match fee is £9,000 to £10,000 at about £830 per player. For the ODIs and Twenty20 game, it works out for the 12 match day players at around £500 per man. Therefore, the five ODIs and one Twenty20 game are worth £3,000 per man.
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