England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval, 4th day August 21, 2006

Hair's petulant over-correctness

Cricinfo staff

The controversial incidents on the fourth day of the England-Pakistan Test - which finally culminated in Pakistan forfeiting the game after being accused of ball tampering - has elicited plenty of feedback. Most of the readers have backed Inzamam-ul-Haq and Pakistan, but there has been the odd voice supporting Darrell Hair's decision as well.

Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove: at the centre of a huge controversy © Getty Images

The controversy that occurred yesterday went beyond just ball tampering. A bit of common sense on the part of Darrell Hair would have helped us witness a proper Test match. If only he had swallowed his ego and allowed the match to proceed! But again, the issue seemed to be more about protecting his 'pride' rather than ball-tampering itself. If umpires are going to be so arrogant, it can be damaging to the game. We already know the reluctance they show in referring dismissals to the third umpire (thanks to which we still see so many wrong decisions). Kaushik Seshan, Singapore

What is hard to understand is that all parties, including the match referee and the teams, were ready to shake hands, bury the hatchet and get on with playing Test cricket for fans all over the world. The only impediment was the petulant over-correctness of Hair - it seems very clear now that his personality is simply not suitable as an Elite Panel umpire - who should be using common sense and the spirit of cricket as his guiding light as much as the Laws of cricket. Richard Walker, UK

Will the ICC punish the umpires for the damage they have done to this game? Can the ICC pay us the money we spent on buying a ticket for this game? Can ICC explain to the sponsors of the loss due to this nonsense from Hair and Doctrove? The answer is that ICC will never be able to explain. It will wash its hands off and may be remove Darrell Hair from the Elite Panel. But incidents like this have been always against Asian teams which says a lot about the prevalence of racism in the game. Santosh, Singapore

I watched it all unfurl - thought that David Gower etc were great in filling the time. It just seems odd that the umpires had the arrogance (maybe in some way supported by the rules depending on how you want to look at it) to call off a game that was looking pretty interesting between two talented teams watched by spectators who had paid money to witness it. Perhaps their authority in this instance should be reviewed. Darryl Hair isn't courted by controversy because he's unlucky. Umpires stand in the middle but people don't come to see them, I assume they know this. Robin, South Africa

As an Australian cricket supporter of long standing I have been embarrassed by Darrell Hair's appalling bias and lack of gentlemanly principles for many years. How he could have been appointed an elite umpire is anybody's guess. This latest incident is a completely logical outcome of his previous behaviour. John Rogers, Australia

The allegation of cheating is the most serious that can be levelled against a sportsman. It is quite incredible that punishment for cheating can be handed out without evidence being produced. As Mike Atherton said on the TV commentary, we hope that there is evidence, such as pictures from the 26 TV cameras that have been placed around the ground. If there is evidence, then let us ban for life from first-class cricket whichever Pakistani player tampered with the ball. If there is no evidence, then let us ban for life Hair and Doctrove from umpiring in Tests. Khalid Ikram, USA

In an age where there are so many cameras covering the game, not one could pick up any wrongdoing with the ball. Darrell Hair should have at least discussed with the match referee and an enquiry should have been commissioned. Pakistan did the correct thing by registering their protest, and the game should have gone on after that. It would have had it not been for Hair. There should be accountability for the umpires as well. Zeeshan Iqbal Siddiqui, Singapore

Did Darrell Hair see a Pakistan player damaging the ball? Did he speak to their captain about it before awarding five penalty runs to England? Cricket is bigger than Hair and bigger than the ICC, the ECB and the PCB all put together. If someone made a mistake and made the game look like a farce then that person or body should be made to pay for this. Sandip Raha, UK

The rules quite clearly state that if a team refuses to come on to the field to play it is open to forfeiting the match to the opposition. This is what happened, and the umpires had no choice but to take the path they took. If the game of cricket is to be held ransom by any team that does not like some sort of umpiring decision that doesn't go their way, then we will have a free-for-all foisted upon us where childish "professionals" sit down and have their little tantrums until they get their own way. How ludicrous! We might as well dispense with umpires altogether and just let the players fight over it until the last man is standing. Robert Busan, USA

Darrell Hair should be asked for evidence for his allegation against the Pakistan team. If he cannot justify his decision, he should be banned from the Elite Panel. Murtuza, Pakistan

The decision to award the match to England seems pretty correct to me. There is no use bagging Hair. He is one of the few umpires not to be intimidated by the belligerence of players and managements - if a few people had backed him up on throwing we would not have the current epidemic of chuckers. If one team won't come out to play then the rules say they lose. David Ames, Australia

Law 42.3 states that in "the event of any fielder changing the condition of the ball unfairly ..." Who was the fielder? And if there was none identified, how was the law correctly applied? Is there any governance body for umpires? Khalid Khan, USA

I hail Inzamam for taking a firm stand on the matter. The responsibility of upholding the game of cricket and its future lies on all involved, and a poor umpire should not be allowed to get away. I also expect PCB to support him even if it means taking ICC to a court. Aurengzeb Khan, Pakistan

If the umpires felt the ball was doctored but had no proof, they should have changed it but not imposed the penalty runs on Pakistan. But by awarding the five runs to England, the umpires clearly indicated that Pakistani team has cheated with the ball. Also, the ICC must have a mechanism which make the umpires liable for their acts. We love cricket due to the players, not the umpires. Muzammil, Pakistan

I am unsure as to how everyone is missing the point. The game was ruined by the sulking Pakistanis, not Hair. They should have got on with the game - their decision was petulant and disrespectable. They were not even accused of anything as far as we know. Even if they were it's the same as a turned-down-appeal. Not that anyone seems to be using their forebrain in their criticism of the umpires. Reg William Price, UK

If there was an issue with ball-tampering, then the umpires should have raised it in their match report, unless they had absolute proof of the act being committed. What is the point of a match referee if the umpires still end up making these irretrievable decisions that should be left to a time and place after play and can be aired in an environment of due process, without being the cause of such detriment to many innocent parties. After all, even if Pakistan were guilty of ball tampering, most likely it would have been only one or two involved in the act; now because the whole team has been labelled cheats. Gary Reid Australia

An exasperated Inzamam-ul-Haq wonders what's happening as the umpires remain in the dressing-room © Getty Images

You can be sure the future of cricket is bleak when the ego of an umpire forces the ICC to forfeit a Test match. I don't know if it's worth going through all this trouble to watch four-and-a-half days of riveting cricket only to have the game called off like this at the end. Omar Malik, Pakistan

What happened yesterday was disgraceful. For a pay-per-view customer it was infuriating. I am paying to watch Pakistan play England, not Darrell Hair umpire a Test match. His inflated ego ran amock yesterday. If he cannot provide inconclusive visual corroborative evidence that a specific player or players were guilty of ball tampering then his allegation is unsubstantiated innuendo and should result in him being fined for incompetence, removed from the ICC panel of umpires and sued for defamation by the Pakistan team. Salman M Shah, USA

What a mess. If, and it remains to be seen what substance lies behind the allegations of tampering, there has been cheating in this instance, the ICC need to prosecute to the letter. As to Darrell Hair, his handling of the incident has all the subtlety of Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag. Hamish Hudson, New Zealand

The umpires must have seen something that Sky's 26 cameras didn't see (and let's face it, if you're going to tamper with the ball you don't let the cameras see it). It must have been something and someone specific. It is not up to them to explain what they saw until the match is over. If their explanation isn't adequate, their record is tarnished and Pakistan have a real grievance. Instead, they chose to sulk in the dressing room. Andy Rushton, UK

Hair would have been justified if Pakistan had refused outright to play. But what is the penalty for an umpire who refuses to come out even when Pakistan wanted the match to continue, because the forfeiture wasn't finalised until later that evening? Wouldn't a team that has been accused of cheating - apparently without evidence - deserve a right to protest for five minutes? Does the law give any right to the captain of the accused team to ask the umpire to show evidence of the charges imposed? Saqib, Bahrain