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Hair’s my view

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Long before a ball is delivered in the ICC Cricket World Cup scheduled for the Caribbean next March, uncertainties about the game itself have surfaced. And it has to do with Australian umpire Daryl Hair’s decision to award the third Test match to England.

It is the first time in 129 years that a match has been decided in such fashion. But the circumstances leading up to that historic development have the hallmark of a potentially explosive event.

The incident has opened a can of worms, which has the capacity of exposing the game, or the 2007 World Cup to possible ruptures. {{more}}

If there is a racial divide as it relates to cricket, Hair’s decision has firmly driven home the point.

There is no doubt that the Pakistanis are passionate and convinced that there is some vendetta in the way they are being treated. A perusal of Hair’s record tends to convince especially third world and Sub-Asian nations that Hair has an agenda, an axe to grind or a point to prove.

It falls into the entire scenario of latent divisions in the cricketing arena.

With the gap widening daily between Western and other civilisations, there might be an inkling of suspicion that the “terror alert” has crept into sporting circles.

Australia is part of the western alliance, which moved with haste and without any clear direction and mandate, to support the invasion of Iraq on the guise of ridding that country of nuclear weapons.

When it was found out that there were indeed no nuclear weapons, the excuses shifted to President Saddam Hussein alleged crimes against the Iraqi people.

England and Australia hold no quarters for each other when it comes to the game of the field of play, but there is the hint of suggestion that there is collaboration, or gentle agreement as it relates to the matter of race.

Those countries that appear not to tow the western line, or are seen as non-whites, have been receiving the worse end of the bargain when it comes to cricket.

The composition of the Elite Panel of umpires is a case in point. There seems to be little difficulty for persons from England, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa to graft their way into the squad, while those from other countries appear to have difficulty qualifying.

Umpires from India and Pakistan are not regular and sustained members of the panel, and there have been questions as why more Caribbean delegates are slow to make it to the prestigious crew.

Everyone in the Caribbean has accepted that cricket is a legacy of the colonial era. But the game has crafted its way into the pschye of the entire Commonwealth. And it is continuing to spread its tentacles, especially now that the 20/20 version is attracting more widespread appeal. But there is the sinister outlook that tendencies of racism is overtaking the sport, and with the tension over the religious conflict breaking down all semblance of the game being the gentle man’s sport, there is the possibility that a dividing line is appearing on the cricket horizons.

Persons are becoming more assertive in whatever sphere they may appear and people these days are willing to take their stance in however way they feel.

Hair has possibly stood out and has made his position clear with support from his countrymen for sure. Equally so is solidarity the Pakistani captain Inzaman-ul-Haq has received at home in his native Pakistan and around the world from other sympathizers.

For the moment, there has been a cooling effect as the hearing into the Inzaman affair has been put off until September 10. Is there something coincidental about that date? We would have to wait and see how the entire episode pans out, and if there are any repercussions, whether for the World Cup in the West Indies or on the future of cricket be it test match, One day or half day.

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