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A prophecy, a prediction or a certainty

By Andrew Jayasinghe

THE Darrell Hair Case has taken another intriguing turn. Hair has been found guilty of misconduct and it has been found that there is no penalty stipulated in the code for umpires so therefore has escaped punishment. Funny code this!! More importantly, the ACB has appointed him as their nominated umpire for the World Cup. This has come as no surprise to many observers of the game.

The ACB would probably say that his being the most senior umpire, he had to be nominated. Yet one wonders if the case is such a simple one or a tit-for-tat in the game of international rat baggery that is being played out. Let us examine this case further.

Australia's own Tubby Mark Taylor who has recently converted himself to a Tele-Tubby by joining the Channel Nine commentary team said after the throwing controversy broke in Adelaide " The best thing that happened was that Murali was called in an England-Sri Lanka match. So this proves that there is no Australian conspiracy against Sri Lanka." One wonders if Tubby became a good cricket captain due to the qualities of the other members of his team and not his own grey matter, which seems to be pretty marginal or very sun affected. (The high UV ratings in the land of Oz have a habit of doing this). Did he fail to realise that Ross Emerson is an Australian umpire and the match was played in Adelaide? (which if I am not mistaken is Australian territory). He is wrong and could not be more wrong. Most Sri Lankans believe what happened on that fateful day to be an Australian conspiracy. (and why not ?) The events on the current tour have only reinforced this view.

When Murali was called on the 95/96 tour, it is possible that doubts were there. Soon after the Sri Lankans examined his action with many biomechanics experts and Video evidence. It was found that the permanently bent arm when rotating the shoulder created a visual illusion. One does not have to be a genius to understand that a bent joint rotating around a moving three dimensional axis is a very difficult one to judge with the naked eye. Anybody with an inkling of knowledge in mechanics or physics (possibly an extinct and unheard of subject in Australia) would understand what I am talking about. When the ICC cleared Murali's action Australia to her eternal shame took the position of the "woman scorned" (hell hath no fury etc). This is and has been a position that is difficult to understand. All they had to do was to admit a simple error of judgement. Yet the whole nation saw it as a national affront. Except for Alan Border I have not heard a single Australian commentator or writer admit that they could have been wrong.

Well, let us get back to our hero. When Hair called Murali's action diabolical and that he will call him again if his action has not changed (it has not and rightly too) the BCCSL complained to the ICC of their code of conduct violations. The ICC in the true fashion of " Passing the Monkey" asked the ACB to judge. This was a bit like the proverb from my country " Like asking the for whereabouts of the thief from his mother".

Let us examine the situation with a court room analogy. If the umpire can be likened to a judge and Murali a defendant in a homicide (unfortunate analogy. no doubt but the persecution he has suffered leads me to believe it is apt). The situation is similar if the judge told the press prior to the first day of the suit "I think he is guilty". This is a situation that will never be allowed in any civilised country but is possibly the one going to unfold in England during the World Cup.

Clearly, according to the rules of conduct no team involved in the tournament can protest against the appointment of the umpires. Also the appointment of neutral umpires as has been the case in previous World Cups could ensure a situation where "Judge Dread" umpires another England-Sri Lanka match. Presumably in this case the Sri Lankans would prefer an English umpire to a "neutral Australian" one. If the current trend of events continues there is nothing preventing another Adelaide type fiasco. This is likely to be another huge drama played out in the centre and would increase the TV ratings of many channels worldwide. The current set of administrators who run the game seem to like such events as they improve the money at gates and TV ratings. If such were the view of administrators I would gladly become a WWF fan. At least the fat bozos there do not insult a country's pride!! Nor are they crude and ill-mannered enough to invite guests and call them cheats when it is too difficult to play them at their own game.

The Sri Lankans clearly want this fiasco to end. They are the smaller party and the Third World country in this contest. This was shown by the chairman of the BCCSL visiting Australia before the tour. Whether the ACB took this seriously or not is now a matter of history. To the BCCSL's credit it must be said they anticipated the issue and set out to protect Arjuna even before the fiasco began.

With all that has happened it is difficult to believe that the cricketing authorities in Australia have acted in good faith in this matter or in the previous matter involving the bookie Warne, Waugh and the PCB. As Ian Botham would possibly put it in his direct and forth right way: "The old farts of the ACB have given their ruling, what would the old farts of the ICC do now." Watch out for the World Cup, boys! Another Hair-Murali-Arjuna-lawyers clash is on the cards , or shall we all switch to the WWF channel?