This week, cricket fans all over the world joined together to condemn racism, which they said looms large in the world of sport.
"Racism is bad enough as it is. And when it comes to sport, it is disgusting. Sports and games are meant to be taken in the right spirit and provide excitement for the players and fans alike. So issues like racism only serve to mar the spirit of the game," began Chhaya, a surfer from Delhi.
Agreeing with her was Lara from Chennai. "Racism is a very unpleasant issue. And it exists in a big, big way. But it would be good if sports was speared from such unhappy occurrences, so that both the fans and players can enjoy a game whole-heartedly."
Darrell Hair, the reigning symbol of racism, too, came in for a fair share of criticism.
Renu Singh, a surfer from Mumbai said: "People like Darrell Hair are a slur on the spirit of cricket. They should be banned from umpiring any match and severely punished for their racial bias."
Said Rafiq from New Zealand: "Hair should have been sacked years ago. I hope the ICC will have enough guts to do it now."
Not to be outdone was Tedry from Maldives. He said: "Pakistan may have a bad record when it comes to ball tampering. However, that does not empower Hair to extend his overbearing attitude towards Pakistan players. In modern times, every action on the field is covered thoroughly. So it's strange that everyone else and the cameras missed what Darrell Hair saw. It's a hair-raising decision from Mr. Hair."
Equally vocal was a surfer, Andy Cook, from Brisbane. He commented: "Hair's whole attitude against subcontinent teams has been well documented. He does have that 'whites are superior' mentality, which is reflective of the way he does not give basic respect to captains from the sub-continent."
Tushar from London was equally vehement. "The Aussies have time and again shown their racist instincts- whether it be Darren Lehmann, Dean Jones or Darrel Hair. The same mindset is shown in Steve Waugh's recent autobiography. Again, did a single Aussie condemn Darrel Hair? No. That says it all."
A surfer called TP from Newark offered an interesting solution to the problem of umpire racism. He wrote: "Just as players are penalized for indiscipline and rude behavior, umpires should also be penalized for their mistakes. And in order to improve the umpiring decisions, there should be an incentive. All umpiring decisions should be evaluated and rated. The ones with highest percentage of correct decisions (say above 98%), should be rewarded with hefty bonuses, while the one with less than 90% should be penalized 10% of the fees, etc."
Fans everywhere were disgusted that a good game was marred by the attitude of a biased man.
And it was not just the controversial Mr Hair, but the ICC, team Pakistan and even Australia, which bore the brunt of their indignation and anger. There were surfers who accused the ICC of being a passive supporter of racial prejudice. There were surfers who said the Australians were a biased lot. And there were surfers who said Pakistan should have continued with the game and taken revenge on Hair by winning the Test match.
The sense of frustration that our surfers felt was overwhelmingly evident in their responses.
Now for the number-crunching.
A whopping 114 people said umpire Darrell Hair was biased. And they were absolutely sure about it. Far, far behind were the 9 people who said he was not. And 14 people remained unsure.
As if to underline this, as many as 119 surfers said Hair was wrong to have done what he did. Only 8 people supported him, while 10 others remained unsure.
Again, a majority (101) said Pakistan was right to have stopped play when they did. Only 32 said the team should have continued play, while 4 people were not sure what should have been done.
Conversely, 82 people said Pakistan was not guilty, while 43 said maybe, they were guilty of ball tampering, considering they've had a similar history. Only 12 people said Pakistan was definitely guilty.
69 surfers said the only solution to the problem is to ban such offenders from the game. 35 surfers, meanwhile said suitable penalty (like a fine) should be imposed on the offenders, while 33 said the laws against racism should be made sterner.
Our surfers were clearly not in the mood to analyse whether umpire Hair was prompted by the ICC to make the exit offer or not. As many as 60 of them said the issue was closed now, and did not merit a post-mortem. Only 31 said Hair made the offer under the influence of the ICC. Meanwhile, 46 people said the umpire feared being sacked and so he made the offer before he was disgraced.
It was nice to see our surfers standing up for a cause. Together, let's hope racism no longer rears its ugly head, especially in sports.
Vox Populi will be back next week, with an interesting issue to debate on. We hope to see the same enthusiasm from our surfers then. Meanwhile, happy surfing!