Friday, September 29, 2006

L'affaire Hair

Is this the end of l'affaire Hair? I sure hope so. Kamran Abbasi goes a little overboard, calling it "the greatest controversy in the history of cricket" (really? bigger than Bodyline, when diplomatic relations between Australia and England were at risk? Bigger than match-fixing and Hansiegate?) but his point is well taken. Let's just get over this, forget about it and move on. For one thing, I really don't want the PCB to get carried away and try to bring disrepute charges against Hair. We have to remember, not guilty does not necessarily mean innocent. Trying to prove that Hair is out to get us, in a court of law, would be more than arduous, though Sambit Bal thinks there's enough in Madugalle's statement to convince us we might have a case. I'm not so sure. Two fairly impartial observers, Angus Fraser and Simon Hughes, say they had slight suspicions about the state of the ball, but nothing serious. But just the fact that there are slight suspicions mean we can't really prove Hair was being unfair, per se, when he thought there was tampering. I mean, in all honesty, 80-90% of proven ball tampering cases in cricket's history have involved us. It doesn't make his actions right, but I really don't think there's a great enough sense of injustice (or more importantly, evidence) to go through with a counter charge against Hair. I'm just happy with a result which ensures that he won't umpire any of our matches ever again.

And what about Inzi's punishment? I'm delighted, just overjoyed. Truth be told, I would have liked the ICC to ban him from one-day cricket forever. It's so ridiculous that he's still playing one-dayers at 37. He's probably still our best ODI batsman, but who the hell cares? If we can add 12-18 months to his Test career, isn't it worth it? Does any serious cricket fan think ODI cricket is more important than Test cricket? The man has carried alot of weight, both literally and metaphorically, for a long time now. He's already struggling with a back injury. We have an unbelievably tightly packed schedule over the next 18 months or so (off the top of my head, it's Champions Trophy, Windies for a 3/5 series at home, in South Africa for another 3/5 series, the World Cup and a 3/5 or 3/7 India tour some time later in 2007). My biggest fear is that he plays everything up to the World Cup, and then no matter what happens, retires from all forms of the game after it, because the World Cup is such a seminal event in ODI cricket. But if he wasn't playing ODIs at all then, as a marker of time, the World Cup wouldn't mean anything, and he could play at least until the India tour in 07, maybe even later.

Look, the guy is, by far, by FAR, our best player, Yousuf's and Younis' recent form notwithstanding. He's still our best player of pace, especially away from home, and he's the guy the opposition wants the most, unless the opposition happens to be India, in which case Younis' wicket will do nicely, thanks. And you simply cannot put in words what he means to the test team. Sure, our ODI team won't be as great if he's not playing. But open with Hafeez and that idiot Farhat, play Shoaib Malik at 5, and everything else is still the same; that's not a huge drop-off. But in tests, if he's out, you're looking at either Malik or Iqbal at 5, with Iqbal/Afridi to follow, and that doesn't really inspire confidence, does it? He should go the Lara-before-he-became-captain-again route, retire from ODIs and just play tests to extend his career. Of course nothing like that will ever happen, because of our country's unhealthy obsession with ODIs and the World Cup. But it's what should happen.

What this verdict does mean is that we have no chance of winning the Champions Trophy (which is completely fine with me, by the way) unless Shoaib and Asif somehow share 5 wickets between them in every opening spell (which, if you've watched them recently, isn't completely outlandish. It's outlandish, but not completely outlandish). For such a horrible runner, Inzi's been a remarkable finisher in ODIs, either batting first or chasing, especially since he was made captain. But like I said, fuck the Champions Trophy. I'll actually be very pleased if we don't make it out of the first round, because that'll mean there's less of a chance of Shoaib or Asif getting injured. We need those two for the Windies, who have a pretty strong batting lineup and will play us tougher than most people think.

1 comment:

Faraz said...

Couldn't agree with you more about Inzi.. but unfortunately Asif is already injured.. apparently playing for Sialkot vs. uttar pradesh