Wednesday, 23 August 2006

In the row over ball-tampering it seems that nobody has got to the heart of the matter.

The Pakistanis were angry with the claim that they were abusing the ball and therefore would not return to the field after tea. But Darrell Hair is the umpire, not some puffed-up generalissimo in an Islamabad committee room. Whether you agree with Hair's call or not, you've still got to abide by it.

It seems to me that the problem with the Pakistani approach is that they did not deem the ruling sufficiently compelling to return to the field. Only when they realised that their dummy-spit wouldn't sway Hair, did they decide to return. An Australian side would never behave like this.

The Pakistanis come from a country where the rule of law is still rudimentary and abuses by the authorities are commonplace. That's why they took the stance they did. They think that such abuses extend to the cricket field. In Australia, even if you think you've been dudded by the umpire, you get on with it. You swallow your pride and play. The Pakistanis have simply shown the true nature of civil society in their homeland, and have made it clear to the rest of the world that Pakistan is a country where the rule of law — that the same laws apply for everyone — is a myth and not the reality.

It is shameful in the extreme, to show your own country's lack of development like this, on the world stage. No wonder they are so angry. To expose yourself and your country in public like this must be so painful.

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