What are those Pakistani's complaining about? by Abdul Habib 29th August 2006 It seems that a lot of people still don’t understand the reason for Pakistan staging a protest at Darrell Hair’s decision. I mean what on Earth are those Pakistani’s complaining about? Darrell Hair is an umpire and every cricket follower knows that an umpire’s decision is final. Neither is this the first time that anyone has been in trouble for changing the condition of the ball. In fact the Pakistani’s themselves have had players facing penalties for this sort of transgression in the past and they’ve accepted the decision without much fuss. So what was so different this time? Well let me try and answer that question. The Pakistan team aren’t angry about a bad decision by an umpire. If that was the case then they would have walked out of the test match at Headingley where both Hair and Doctrove were denying Pakistani appeals on the most blatant of edges and lbw’s. In fact the umpiring was so bad in that match that even English newspapers like the Telegraph were bemoaning Pakistan’s luck! Now if Pakistan were only walking out because of decisions going against them, then surely Headingley would have been the best stage to make their point but Pakistan carried on playing and eventually lost the match. So if that isn’t the reason then what is? Denied appeals are an everyday part of cricket but then so is ball tampering we are told. Former England players like Fraser have admitted that it goes on all the time and the England team themselves have been accused that their sweet tooth on the field of play has more to do with the state of the cricket ball than a repetitive case of the munchies! Even players like Atherton, Waqar, Sachin, Akhtar, Dravid and others have had their collars felt for ball tampering in the recent past. What was so different about this accusation? Well it’s quite simple. In the past umpires have pointed to a specific instance and named a specific individual. In short umpires have been full and frank with the fielding captain by telling him the exact reason, the specific instance and naming the perpetrator. This level of communication has helped to keep the situation in check because the fielding team know the details of what they have been accused of and why! Imagine if you’re walking down the street and a policeman comes up to you, puts you into handcuffs and throws you into a cell without any clear explanation! You would be livid wouldn’t you? Well that’s what happened to Pakistan. Inzamam wasn’t told anything about the umpires having any suspicions regarding the ball. He looked on bemused as a new set of balls was brought on the field and Pieterson began to choose one he liked the look of. In fact Inzamam had to approach the umpires himself to ask for an explanation of what was going on! Does that sound acceptable in any way, shape or form? No it doesn’t simply because it leaves 11 people on the pitch completely clueless about what is taking place. As Aleem Dar said, any other umpire would have handled it better! To put it more simply; the problem wasn’t the awarding of the penalty, it was the lack of communication with the fielding captain about what was being done and why! Also by not singling out an individual or a specific instance of tampering, Hair had implicated the whole Pakistan team of a conspiracy to tamper the ball. This means he called each and every one of them cheaters!! Are you beginning to see why the Pakistan team would feel aggrieved this time and not the previous times? Despite that insult the Pakistan team stayed on the field until play was called off for bad light. The extended tea break was the perfect opportunity for both umpires to visit the Pakistan team in the dressing room and set the record straight. But did they? No they didn’t! The Pakistan team quite rightly felt this was neither professional nor acceptable and so they stayed in the dressing room as a form of protest. Are they allowed to do this? Of course they are! But what happens once the Pakistan team choose to take this form of action? Well in that situation the laws place the burden of restarting the match squarely on the shoulders of both the on-field umpires. The law in question is quoted below… 21.3. Umpires awarding a match (b) If an umpire considers that an action by any player or players might constitute a refusal by either side to play then the umpires together shall ascertain the cause of the action. If they then decide together that this action does constitute a refusal to play by one side, they shall so inform the captain of that side. If the captain persists in the action the umpires shall award the match in accordance with (a)(ii) above. …according to the laws of cricket the burden now shifts to the umpires. They must get together and liaise with the captain of the side believed to be refusing to return to the field. They must speak to the captain until such a time as they become absolutely sure of the reason for the captain taking this action. This means they need to have a discussion with the captain because you can’t ascertain a cause any other way. Once they are sure of the reason for the action, both umpires are to decide whether this constitutes a refusal to play. If they are in agreement that this constitutes a refusal to play then they must inform the captain, if he persists then the match can be awarded to the opposition. The problem at the Oval was that after returning from the pitch, Doctrove went to the England dressing room whilst Hair went to the Pakistani dressing room. Now Bell and Collingwood were both ready and waiting to take to the field so the problem was obviously in the Pakistani dressing room. So why did Doctrove go to the English dressing room when the laws required him to join Hair in the Pakistani dressing room? Hair’s job once he arrived at the Pakistani dressing room was to enter into a discussion with the Pakistani captain to ascertain the reason for the action they had taken. Instead (according to those who were there) the conversation went like this… Hair: Are you coming out? Inzi: Why did you change the ball? Hair: I am not here to discuss that. …now that isn’t a case of following the letter of the law. Hair’s job was not to demand that the team come out and play. His job according to the law he cherishes so much was to ascertain the reason for the action taken. Inzamam was in fact ready to have a discussion with the umpire about the reason for the action taken but it was Hair who was not interested in pinpointing the cause of the action! The lack of Doctrove’s presence also means that the law was not followed correctly because the law requires the presence of and discussion between both of the umpires. When Inzamam asked Hair for clarification on his decision, it was clear that Inzamam didn’t fully understand what he was being charged with. It then became the umpire’s responsibility to explain the details to Inzamam. So that the umpire could then decide whether or not Inzamam’s reason for staying in the dressing room amounted to a refusal to play or whether it was just to ask the umpires to clarify the rules before play could be resumed. It’s neither unusual nor unheard of for participants in a match to approach umpires/referees for clarification on the rules in sporting matters and it’s the umpire’s job to provide that clarity. Darrell Hair failed at his job when he refused to provide that clarity to Inzamam. Even if both umpires had been present and the laws followed to the letter, what was the ECB chairman doing in the Pakistan dressing room? It’s a clear possibility that the Pakistan captain and manager were led to believe that the ECB chief’s presence was fully sanctioned and that they had enough time to restart the match. It’s probable that they felt the English dressing room was waiting for David Morgan’s signal before restarting the match. This would appear to be backed up by the fact that when the PCB and ECB chiefs were giving the thumbs up from the balcony, the Pakistani team returned to the field and were shocked and surprised to see that the match was over. Hair based his decision to award the match to England on intuition, sixth sense and preconception. This is against the laws of cricket, fair play, decency and common sense. Therefore the forfeit against Pakistan must be annulled and the match either restarted or corrected to match abandoned due to umpire error. The most important lesson to be learnt from this whole episode is the importance of communication. Lack of communication leads to misunderstanding which leads to the presumption of foul play and therefore we inevitably end up with chaos.