Old Guest Column

No-shows, shaky recall and bombast

Ivo Tennant reports that the fourth day of the Darrell Hair tribunal is more about who wasn't there than who was

Ivo Tennant in London

Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair leave The Oval after the first day of the hearing in 2006 ... but Hair was left alone today © Getty Images
Darrell Hair's legal team had laid on five-star treatment for their most significant witness to attend the Central London Employment Tribunal. Billy Doctrove, his co-umpire at The Oval, was to fly business-class from Dominica on Wednesday night and then be put up in a swish hotel, rum punches and all. Given that he was effectively supporting his colleague and friend against his employers, the ICC, there had to be some incentive dangled in front of him.
Except he did not make the flight. When Paul Gilbert, Hair's solicitor, caught up with him on the telephone, Doctrove cited only "personal reasons" for his no-show. He would not even say if there had been a death in the family. Time is running out if he is to appear, as the tribunal chairman forcefully reminded us. What was more, there was no Inzamam-ul-Haq, and almost certainly there will not be over the coming days. His reasoning was that he wanted to be selected by Pakistan for their second Test against South Africa, even though, mysteriously, he had opted out of selection for the first one without reason.
Inzamam also told Gilbert that this was Ramadan - and no-one of sound legal mind could argue with that, just as they could not with Doctrove in case his seventh cousin once removed had keeled over back home. In fact the ICC, who insisted it did not pressurise Doctrove into not attending, had flown him back home via London from the umpires' seminar in Johannesburg. Doctrove, it transpired, did not want to stop over en route and sought advice from the governing body as to whether he should attend.
An ICC spokesman told him it felt it could not provide that. As for Gilbert, he will keep trying, perhaps resorting to a video link - and there remains a possibility that the tribunal will issue sanctions against Inzamam next time he appears in the UK - always assuming, after his woeful form with Yorkshire, that there is a next time. He has already been served with a summons. On top of all that, Jimmy Adams, the former West Indies captain, did not show up, either. The moral of this imbroglio appears to be that, unless these assorted stars are in the country well ahead of the hearing, nothing is going to prise them out of their hideouts.
The most appalling decision I have ever seen in my entire life
Sir Johnson Anderson on the decision at The Oval in 2006
All this and the sharp, unequivocal comment from Sir John Anderson about Hair making "the most appalling decision I have ever seen in my entire life" meant that there was a solemnity about the hearing yesterday. What was more, from the claimant's perspective, Robert Griffiths, his QC, was at home in Hampstead on his sickbed. Anderson will be back at the hearing this morning, when the counter-attack on his demolition job on Hair will make for much interest.
There was a lighter note or two, for Anderson was less assured when he was asked by Michael Beloff, QC for the ICC, about other instances of a team not taking the field of play, as occurred with Pakistan following the charge of ball-tampering against them.
First, he said that there was no such thing as "a senior umpire" in the Laws of Cricket but a little while later mentioned that it was "a custom" to have a lead umpire, which sounded distinctly ColemanBalls-like. He then talked about John Snow and missiles in the 1980s, when in fact the great England fast bowler did well to extend his career to signing for Kerry Packer in 1977. No-shows, a shaky recall of the past and no shortage of bombast: just another day in this endlessly fascinating saga.