Rameez Raja: Hair is to blame for history of confrontation

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The Independent Online

It was unfortunate that the game of cricket had to face such an awkward day as Sunday. No one wants to see the game stop, but the umpire Darrell Hair wanted to be the star of the show, which he certainly was.

The accusation of cheating made by Hair hurt the honour of Pakistan - a very religious team. Cricket in Pakistan is a religion and this episode has upset fans and, in their view, tarnished the image of the country. Hair should have known the sensitivities of the Pakistani culture and what the allegation would mean before he invoked the law and classified them as cheats.

There is something wrong with the guy. He tries to be too officious and fails to read the character of the sub-continental teams. There is a long history between Hair and Pakistan.

In Pakistan before Christmas, when England were touring, Danish Kaneria was stopped from bowling by Hair because he deemed he was running on the wicket. He was not warned - as is the correct procedure - and was told that he could not bowl. On only one other occasion has he been pulled up for that act. The other was in the West Indies. The umpire? Hair.

I side with Pakistan on this and curse the insensitivity of the ICC for using an umpire that Pakistan have protested against. He should never have been there. I know former England players from my era who used to be happy when Hair was put in charge of an England-Pakistan match because they knew we would be at a disadvantage.

I've been involved in matches where horrible situations have been managed tactfully by good umpires. A friendly warning to Inzamam-ul-Haq could have solved the issue.A smile can solve a lot of problems in the middle.

David Shepherd was respected even when he made mistakes because of his conduct. Aleem Dar is highly rated because he controls the game well. It is not always about getting an lbw right but how you handle the game. Sky television had 26 cameras around the Oval on Sunday and they have not found anything to suggest the ball was tampered with. The ICC has not asked for any video footage and Sky has none.

On Sunday, the ball reversed after 55 overs - the same as when England bowled. Had Pakistan been playing foul they would have scratched it after 15 overs. Also, if they were tampering to aid swing, why did they bowl the spinner Kaneria?

Pakistan didn't like Hair's suspicious nature when it reversed and were shining the ball in front of him. But because he is suspicious he decided it was unnatural and took a decision there and then. I would love to hear Hair say his piece. But he has not said a word.

Because it was an emotional stance that Inzy took on Sunday, today he will probably be looking at the whole issue from a distance and thinking that he could have played the game under protest and not given the Test to England on a plate.

What happens next? Pakistan must play the one-dayers because the game must move on. We do not need another chapter of controversy. Such a situation should pull the team together and spur them on to win the one-day series.

Rameez Raja played 57 Tests for Pakistan and is now a television commentator.

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