'The state of the ball surprised me'
In The Guardian, Omar Waraich reveals that the evidence of Geoff Boycott played a key part in the outcome:
Boycott in particular delivered a veritable tour de force. At one point, he took the infamous match ball in his hand, held it up and said: "That's a good ball, not just a playable ball. Boycott also took exception to the idea that an accusation of cheating should be tolerated. "If me or any of my friends were ever called a cheat," he told the hearing, the accuser would be "decked with a bunch of fives".
Elsewhere in The Guardian, Mike Selvey suggests that Hair has been stitched up by the ICC and that he is effectively finished … and the excuse put forward for his omission from the Champions Trophy is risible:
To invoke grounds of safety and security, when he has received by all accounts a single cranky email and no other threat, is just an expedient way of keeping him out of the way. But the umpire himself has said that he has been given no assurances of any firm commitments beyond that, or even an indication that there would be any. He is in limbo, on gardening leave, technically employed but actually unemployable.
In The Times, Simon Barnes believes that Hair “stood on the authority of his office, but a changing world had moved on without him”. He continues:
My colleague, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, is concerned that insufficient respect for the umpire is a recipe for anarchy. With both respect and affection, I am inclined to disagree. I think that if the umpire gets too much authority, there will be occasions when the authority is abused.
In the Daily Mail, Nasser Hussain raised a question over a man who was at the heart of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans but who has somehow escaped almost unscathed – mathc referee Mike Procter:
Procter didn’t do his job properly … he sat there for five days worrying about small things like illegal logos, but when something major came up he did nothing about it.
Also in the Daily Mail, Mike Dickson is of the view that whatever the rights and wrongs of what Hair did, he has not been treated well by the ICC. At The Oval he faced the media without a lawyer sitting next to him, as Shaharyar Khan and Ranjan Madugalle had, and no other official involved at the match was asked to stand up to be counted:
Hair has been hung out to dry or cut adrift might be a more appropriate metaphor.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa