Former England captains find fault with ICC

Published: Sunday, August 27, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Lashing out at the ICC for making Darrell Hair's cash-for-resignation e-mail public, former England captains Ian Botham and Michael Atherton said the governing body has worsened the situation with its inept handling of the whole ball-tampering controversy.

''I fear his (Hair's) career as an international umpire has been shot to pieces. He is finished. I can't see any way back for him after the ICC published his amazing correspondence with them. Much, much worse, however, has been the ICC's handling of the crisis,'' Botham wrote in his column for the 'Daily Mirror'.

''The ICC began the week, I thought, in a strong position. By its end, I didn't have much confidence that cricket was in good hands,'' echoed Atherton in his column for the 'Daily Telegraph'.

While Atherton chose to remain mum on Hair's actions and his controversial career, Botham felt the Aussie had served the game well by foraying into areas where the other umpires have rarely had the courage to go.

''Darrell Hair has been a fine umpire who was often brave enough to investigate grey areas some of his colleagues wouldn't touch with a bargepole,'' Botham wrote.

However, both Atherton and Botham were scathing in their criticism of the ICC and said the organisation did little to control the situation after the forfeited Oval Test.

''Where were they last Sunday when a Test match was imploding before their eyes? Nowhere to be seen. Out to lunch. At the tone leave a name and message and we'll get back to you. On the 12th of never,'' Beefy said.

''And why are they waiting another week to hold an emergency board meeting to sort out the mess?,'' he added, referring to the ICC meetin scheduled for this weekend.

''Until the extraordinary events of Tuesday, when Darrell Hair lost the plot and offered an easy and lucrative way out, the International Cricket Council had been passive bystanders in the affair,'' said Atherton.

The former captains said the ICC should not have made Hair's demand public as the whole issue has now tarnished its reputation beyond repair.

''It reflects appallingly on the people who run world cricket, namely the blazers, mandarins and wasters at the ICC. Their motto seems to be: Never fire-fight a crisis today when you can put it off until next week,'' Botham said.

''Hair's remarkable offer, however, pushed the ICC and their officials into the spotlight. Never can they have looked more uncomfortable,'' wrote Atherton.

Atherton also felt that the ICC's decision to make Hair's e-mail public was an attempt to escape the criticism that the organisation might have faced in case it had been leaked to the media through some other channels.

''Speed would have been well aware of the potential criticism he would have faced had news of a cover-up leaked out,'' he said, referring to the press conference in which the ICC Chief Executive gave out the details of the e-mail.

Atherton said it was difficult to believe that Hair had sent the mail without being in prior touch with the officials.

''Clearly Hair had been involved in discussions with ICC officials before his formal demand for 500,000 dollar was sent. His first e-mail to Doug Cowie, the amiable New Zealander who manages the elite panel of umpires, says 'just to firm up what we discussed earlier in the evening','' Atherton said.

Botham, meanwhile, predicted that even if the ICC decided to oust Hair from its panel now, it won't do any good to the game as the controversial umpire, despite everything, had been a good official.

''Spare a thought for Hair. He has always applied the laws of cricket as he saw fit, and the standard of decision-making at Test level will NOT improve without him,'' he said.

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