Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Players Are Not Ones in Charge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Players Are Not Ones in Charge

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

For the second year running the start of the Premiership football season has been overshadowed by Test cricket. But whereas last August cricket fans were delighted to see the Ashes knock the national game off the back pages, this time they would probably prefer it if everyone just ignored them.

The actions of the Pakistan team at The Oval on Sunday made a complete farce of the entire game and in refusing to take to the field for the final session of the day, thereby forfeiting the match, broke a cardinal rule of sport.

Umpires and referees make mistakes but part of being a sportsman is accepting and overcoming this. Respect for authority is something playing sport is supposed to teach you. Pakistan have clearly failed to learn the lesson.

The appointment of Darrell Hair for the last two matches of the series was ludicrous, an accident waiting to happen. The Australian has had far too many run-ins with Asian cricketers to be an acceptable choice to umpire Pakistan and the ICC, while not wanting to be seen to bowing to their demands, should have recognised as much and erred on the side of diplomacy.

That, though, is nothing to do with the players. Their job is to play to the best of their ability regardless of who is in the middle with them.

Whether or not Hair and Billy Doctrove were justified in penalising Pakistan for ball-tampering is something only they and the alleged (and un-named) culprit can know as none of the 20-plus TV cameras around the ground spotted an indiscretion.

But dealing with the fall-out was a matter for the men in suits, not those in whites.

Inzamam-ul-Haq was affronted by the fact he was not consulted, as he is supposed to be, by the umpires. But throwing his toys out of the pram at tea was not the right course of action.

Instead, Pakistan officials should have been despatched to deal with the matter. …

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