Pakistan cricket legends slam 'mini Hitler' umpire
by AFP

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Player:Inzamam-ul-Haq, DB Hair, Rameez Raja
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 21st August 2006


Pakistani cricket greats Monday laid into umpire Darrell Hair after the chaos-hit fourth Test against England, with legend Imran Khan describing the Australian as a "mini Hitler".


The former players also backed captain Imzamam-ul-Haq's decision to keep his team off the field at The Oval on Sunday after Pakistan were penalised five runs over ball-tampering allegations.


"Hair is one of those characters, when he wears the white umpire's coat, he metamorphoses into a mini Hitler," former captain and all-rounder Khan said in an article in The Nation newspaper.


"Pakistan captain Imzamam-ul-Haq and the team were in their right to protest. The pride of an entire people has been tarnished by his ludicrous and highly insensitive decision."


After five hours of talks on Sunday night Pakistan were deemed to have forfeited the game, handing England a 3-0 victory in the four match series.


Veteran Hair, known for his no-nonsense style, has long been unpopular with Pakistan and they had objected to him standing in the series finale after claiming that he was rude to them.


Pakistan also blamed the Australian for what they said were a series of unfair decisions in the Third Test at Headingley which they felt cost them the match.


Last November Hair also upset Pakistan by ruling that Inzamam had been run out by a throw from England bowler Stephen Harmison back to the wicket-keeper during the Faisalabad Test, even though the batsman appeared to be taking evasive action.


The story led the front pages of most Pakistani newspapers, which all made punning references to the umpire's name.


"Hair-raising row turns Oval Test on its head," said the conservative Dawn newspaper above a story accusing the International Cricket Council of "ensuring that Hair follows Pakistan around the globe."


The News said "Hair comes trouble!" while the Nation ran a comment piece by former captain Rameez Raja under the headline "Pakistan in the cross-Hair".


Raja described Hair -- who called Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for "chucking" in Melbourne in 1995/6 -- as seemingly biased against players from the subcontinent.


"His arbitrary and insensitive style of judgement sparked an absolutely needless controversy that has put the Test match in serious jeopardy and brought infamy to the game," he wrote.


Former Pakistani Test batsman Shafqat Rana said Hair's role in the "biased" decision on Sunday made it look "as if the Australian was looking to settle a score with Pakistan."


"Hair has tried to destroy Pakistan's image in world cricket" by accusing Pakistan of being cheats on the basis of no apparent evidence, Rana wrote in the same paper.


"I firmly believe Inzamam's decision not to return to the field after the incident was justified because the Pakistani skipper felt the team has been penalised for the offense which wasn't committed at the first place," he added.


However a dissenting voice came from former test cricketer Sarfraz Nawaz -- known as the "Sultan of Reverse Swing" for pioneering the technique -- who blamed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for managing the affair badly.


"Inzamam took a very good decision not to quit the ground and carried on to play even when the ball had been changed. It was after the break that the team decided to delay their return in protest," he told AFP.


"I think the PCB chairman, the coach and other officials instigated the captain to register the protest and ultimately spoiled a match which Pakistan had almost won.


"It was very unfortunate for Pakistan and the game."

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)