Alex Massie

Better (and braver) Administrators Please

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One of the sadder constants in international sport is that any major decision made by the International Cricket Council will, more probably than not, damage the long-term best interests of the game. That sorry streak continues today:

The result of the controversial 2006 Oval Test between England and Pakistan is to be changed, the BBC understands.

The match was awarded to England when the Pakistan team refused to come out onto the field after tea after being accused of ball-tampering.

But the International Cricket Council is expected to change the result to a draw at its meeting in Dubai.

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said the move would open up "an absolutely enormous can of worms".

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "The Pakistanis were accused of ball tampering and they did not come out to play.

"The umpires went into their room and said 'You must come out to continue the game', they did not and, under the laws of any sport, if you refuse to play, you lose the game."

"Match abandoned, they're saying, as a draw, - well, abandoned on what grounds? It wasn't the weather, it wasn't anything else, it was that Pakistan wouldn't come out to play for whatever reason."

Agnew is absolutely correct. The situation could, and should, have been handled differently and more tactfully at the time. But Darryl Hair's actions, whether ill-judged or not, are irrelevant. It doesn't even matter if Pakistan had a case or not. The umpires' authority is  - as it has to be - absolute and, as every schoolboy is, or should be, taught the umpire is always right, even, especially when he is wrong.

Not any longer, it seems. And yet perhaps the saddest element to this typically craven decision is that it should come as no surprise whatsoever.

UPDATE: Michael Holding, I'm glad to see, agrees with me.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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