ICC stupid to appoint Hair as umpire: Boycott

Published: Monday, August 21, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London: The ICC was ''stupid'' to appoint Darrell Hair for the England-Pakistan Test series despite being well aware of the controversial umpire's equation with Inzamam-ul Haq's side, says Geoffery Boycott, who feels the ball-tampering controversy was a ''volcano waiting to erupt'' as the visitors were already unhappy with the Aussie's attitude.

''The ICC must be blind or stupid not to have realised that there is history between Darrell Hair, the umpire who accused them of changing the nature of the ball, and Pakistan. There were mutterings after the Headingley Test that Pakistan didn't like Hair's attitude,'' the former England captain wrote in his column for the 'Daily Telegraph'.

''The events at the Oval yesterday were farcical and reflected little credit on the England and Wales Cricket Board or the ICC,'' he added.

Boycott said the ICC should have known that the appointment of Hair will not go down well with the Pakistanis, who had protested against the decision.

The former England captain felt the governing body should have taken the Pakistani view-point seriously as it might have helped in preventing yesterday's incident, which saw Inzamam and his men walkout of the ground to show their protest.

''Pakistan regard Hair as an officious umpire and they don't like his style of man-management. It should have been obvious to the ICC that appointing him to this series created a situation like a volcano waiting to erupt,'' Boycott explained.

Boycott said the visitors were within their rights to feel aggrieved by Hair's decision as no team wants to be called a cheat.

''Ball-tampering is a sensitive issue for the Pakistanis and that is why they staged their protest yesterday. They wanted to make a statement because the reputation of the team and the integrity of Pakistan cricket had been called into question.

''You have to remember that the Pakistan players are deeply religious and pray five times a day, so an allegation of cheating hurts them,'' he said.

Though Boycott refused to comment on the correctness of Hair's decision, the former captain said that since umpires can now check the ball anytime, it would be foolish of any player to tamper with it.

Boycott felt the Aussie could have been a bit more sensitive in his handling of the situation.

''These days umpires are empowered to inspect the ball at irregular but frequent intervals to ensure no one is altering its condition. Anyone who attempts to tamper with a ball has to be stupid because they are bound to be found out,'' Boycott pointed out.

''This is not the same as giving someone out lbw or stumped. This is a matter that needed to be dealt with sensitively and Hair came across as being too officious,'' he added.

Boycott was not very happy with the match officials' attitude towards the crowd, which was not given any information about the proceedings.

The former captain felt the paying public should have been treated better.

''The biggest farce of all was that no one thought to keep the 23,000 spectators, who had paid a lot of money to watch the game, informed.

''The only information spectators were given as they left the ground was to check with the national media as to what was happening,'' Boycott said.

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