The Hair Saga: Reactions

At the end of the day, the various verdicts announced by the disciplinary committee did not come as such a surprise.

The very fact that the ICC had stated that they considered the “bringing the game into disrepute” charge to be more serious than the ball tampering one, indicated that Inzamam and Pakistan would be pronounced guilty of the former, but not the latter.

As a result, the most surprising outcome of the hearing was probably the reason given by the ICC as to why Darrell Hair would not be umpiring in the Champions Trophy.

It was, they assured us, because his “safety could not be assured.”

It certainly seemed somewhat peculiar that a country which has assured the safety of various “world leaders” in the past, could not do so for an umpire.

Earlier today, however, Niranjan Shah, the Indian Board Secretary, clarified the situation: “We never said security was a concern. We could have provided full security… The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket) in India expressed concern about the controversy, nothing more than that.”

So that’s cleared up then.

However, according to the now instantly recognizable PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan, the whole issue could have been avoided had the ICC listened to their concerns: “We told them we had a problem with his attitude so why post him to four successive series – it was a time-bomb waiting to go off and it went off.

When Sri Lanka had a problem with Darrell Hair in 1995, he was not posted to a Sri Lanka match for eight years.”

Pakistan legend Imran Khan also lended his opinion on the matter, demanding an apology from Hair for “doing all he could to implicate them in an offence they never committed.”

He did concede, however, that Inzamam-Ul-Haq’s ban for leading his team off was deserved, agreeing that refusing to play was against the spirit of the game.

Hair’s reputation was further damaged by TV analyst Simon Hughes’ comments.

Hughes had been a key witness at the hearing, and this was his view on the incident: “After 56 overs on a dry, fourth-day Oval pitch, it was in pretty good condition. The problem was Hair was guessing, using the flimsiest evidence. The marks on the ball were not blatant enough for the drastic measures Hair took.”

So what does the world press think?

Simon Barnes of “The Times” wrote: “The umpire isn’t there to teach us about God and the Queen and Duty and Service, he is there to make the show work. This is what Hair conspicuously failed to do that fateful Sunday at The Oval.

“The Daily Telegraph” said that the most significant outcome of the hearing was that there was now a “ready-made defence to play against any future accusations.”

Former England international Mark Butcher, however, felt that Hair had been shamelessly “hung out to dry” by the ICC.

The hearing may be over, but the fallout continues…

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