Monday, September 04, 2006



It is hard to comprehend the issue of the ball tampering in the aftermath of the Oval test match. I am in no position to make any value judgements. But the fallout has the potential to hurt the game.

Pakistan have always been suspect of doctoring the ball much to the chagrin of the others. It is quite a different thing when English bowlers like Simon Jones managed to make the ball swing in the other way. The appointment of Waqar Younis as the bowling coach and the subsequent allegations leveled by Hair appear to be justified. Let us not forget that Bob Woolmer is someone who doesn’t always play the game fairly. In the 1999 World Cup match between South Africa and India, he had conversations with the South African captain Hansie Cronje through a wireless communication device. Further, ICC match referee Barry Jarman has now accused the South African bowlers of having tampered with the ball in a match against India.

The one fallout will surely be the undermining of the role of the umpire. Captains have a way of making their displeasure over the performance of the umpires. But Inzamam and the Pakistan team think-tank decided to take the drastic measure of not coming on to the field after the tea interval. Then Hair appeared to be on solid ground but the revelation of the Aussie umpire seeking a golden handshake tilted the scales in favour of Pakistan.

In the recently concluded FIFA world cup, many referees made horrendous decisions and the governing body took immediate steps. Referees were asked to leave the world cup after being found guilty of bad decisions. Why not the ICC devise such a strategy?

At the best of times, the ICC does not have the acumen to take tough and definitive stands on prickly issues. This was demonstrated during the match fixing crisis and the chucking issue. The dilly-dallying and the procrastination led to the farcical 15-degree leeway given to the bowlers with suspect actions. The inaction then also led to racial and other such allegations. Now things have gone one step ahead with the inclusion of religious beliefs.

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