It is a matter of honour.
Rarely does the materialistic world of the today understand what honour and pride means to those who originally hail from the east. Our intent to 'save face' at all costs has governed our behaviour and psyche for the last few millennia and it will not change. We have at times behaved irrationally, but yesterday's protest by the Pakistan cricket team and captain Inzamam was on the money. Had I been in Inzamam's shoes, I would have done the same.
To those who missed the action, here is what happened.
Around the 56th over of England's innings, umpire Darrell Hair of Australia accused the Pakistan team of tampering the ball [1435 BST]. Without any warning, he ordered the ball changed, and awarded 5 penalty runs to England. This was tantamount to accusing Pakistan of cheating, without giving them an option to appeal or present their case. Inzamam was furious, but the game continued - for a while.
During tea-break, commentators Nasser Hussain [source: Guardian] exclaimed that had he been in Inzamam's shoes, he would refuse to come out to resume the game in protest. And lo and behold, that's what transpired to occur.
Pakistan refused to take the field and chaos ensued. Botham and Hussain backed the visiting team's sit-in. Rameez Raja was furious at the umpire, and rightly so. None of the 26 cameras that Sky TV had trained on the ground showed any evidence to support the umpire. You cannot scratch an itch on the cricket ground without it being captured on some camera, so it is highly suspicious someone could lift the seam off the ball or scruff it up without being caught.
As the game descended into anarchy, what happened next is a matter of conjecture, but it appears that Hair subsequently behaved rudely in the Pakistan dressing room, and acted prematurely to conclude the match was forfeited. Even when the Pakistan team mollified their original stance and were ready to resume play, the umpires didn't take to the field. This was not the first time Hair had been involved with Asian teams [bbc], being accused of bias [cricinfo].
Now everyone from former cricketers [rashid, imran] to the media to the President of Pakistan has become involved.
Then we have people like Agnew suggesting other ways to protest [bbc]. He says 'to issue a strong denial at tea time, in which they also promised to appeal, and get on with the game'. I say bollocks.
At the end of the day, the official conducting the game accuses you of cheating. Do you still continue to play? No, you don't if you are a man. It is a matter of honour.
"This game is about more than winning and losing. It's about respect and countries come first. If someone says to me you are a cheat and Pakistan is doing wrong things, my first priority is to my country." [Inzamam]
What is Pakistan was guilty? If it turns out in the end a player was guilty and the captain, honestly believing his player's words, risked his career and the match for a liar and a cheat, I pity the poor fool. He will not be able to live in Pakistan.
Tags: Pakistan Cricket Darrell Hair