Tour match abandoned

Pakistan’s tour match against Middlesex was abandoned due to rain today, as confusion reigned about a number of issues in the Pakistan camp. Pakistan management have indicated they want captain Inzamam-ul-Haq’s disciplinary hearing to be heard by the end of the weekend at the latest, while some are even suggesting that coach Bob Woolmer, tour manager Zaheer Abbas, and Inzamam could all resign their posts, as the acrimonious fallout from the final Test against England reaches massive proportions. Umpire Darrell Hair, meanwhile, has stated that “people will pay” for his vilification during current events.

Pakistan have insisted they will not go ahead with the rest of the tour while Inzamam’s disciplinary hearing hangs over their heads – they have also indicated that the outcome will be the same if he is found guilty of ball-tampering or bringing the game into disrepute. The prospect that the ODI series between the two sides will not go ahead is a very real one as it stands. One complication to the situation is that Ranjan Madugalle, the ICC’s chief Match Referee, was unavailable for the original hearing on Friday due to a family illness. It was this circumstance that forced the original postponement, which the Pakistani authorities are now rejecting. It remains to be seen whether their rejection will carry any weight.

The prospective resignations of Pakistan’s captain, team manager and coach would be the final nails in the coffin of an affair which has done Pakistani cricket no good at all. Rumour has it that Inzamam has lost his faith in his coach following recent media statements from Woolmer, while Zaheer Abbas is under fire for shoddy management on the fourth evening at the Oval – he was seen talking disinterestedly on his mobile phone while the cricketing world around him fell apart. Woolmer is also understood to be deeply unhappy about Abbas’ management of the situation, and many expect him to resign once the affair is finally resolved.

Darrell Hair has also reacted angrily following the incident which has tarnished his reputation as a senior ICC umpire, albeit one with a history of controversy. “I have been vilified by virtually everybody here and when the truth comes out a lot of people will pay.” said Hair ominously. Hair also commented on allegations that Pakistan were seeking to force him out of international umpiring. “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,” he told British newspaper The Independent. He also thanked the ICC for their support during the affair.

Pakistani cricket remains in turmoil following an incident which has damaged the reputations of all involved – the waters continue to muddy as allegations and slurs are thrown left, right and centre. The abandonment of a tour match because of rain was almost a welcome relief in the midst of a shower of controversy – it was comforting that some things still happen for cricketing reasons.

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