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Much more than just some Hair at stake

The economic ramifications will be huge if Pakistan pull out of ODI series. England, which will be affected, will look for 'full' compensation.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2006 19:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

The lines have been drawn. On Tuesday, the racial divide over the Pakistan v Darrell Hair row exploded out in the open.

Australia united in defence of their compatriot Hair, a "completely fair man", who they saw as being done in by the economic hegemony of the Indian subcontinent.

Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq received an outpouring of support from across the region and in website polls in England.

On the controversy, Hair said, "I stand by what I’ve done but if anything comes out in the inquiry that proves me incorrect I’ll accept that too.” He said it would be "an interesting battle".

While he might have been technically correct, he probably failed in a key area of an umpire’s performance assessment - player management.

What has made matters critical are statements by Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer and Inzamam, implying that the forthcoming one-day series between England and Pakistan can be "in jeopardy" if Inzamam is banned on Friday. The ban seems likely unless the ICC works out a compromise.

But if Pakistan pull out, things can spiral out of control. The economic ramifications will be huge. England, which will be affected by the pullout, will look for compensation.

According to ICC rules, if they do not reach an agreement on matches being replayed, Pakistan can face a $2-million fine and possible suspension from international cricket. Smarting from being labelled cheats, they will definitely protest.

In 72 hours or so, we will know if the Black v White divide is here to stay. As of now, the BCCI officially maintains that it has received no request for help from the Pakistan Cricket Board. A request, though, is expected, given how the Asian bloc rallied around India during the Mike Denness affair and when Sourav Ganguly was banned.

Interestingly, ICC officials said that Pakistan, despite them reportedly not wanting Hair to adjudicate in their Tests, had given no written complaint about him till this time (they have done so now).

The next few days may well define how cricket and the ICC are perceived. Football, for all its faults, has acknowledged that racism may exist. In cricket, unfortunately, there is no such recognition. Plagued by scandals, it remains, in the eyes of its heedless establishment, a game from a genteel colonial past.

First Published: Aug 23, 2006 02:51 IST