What started as a scuff on a cricket ball, has snowballed into something much bigger than the game of cricket, and the foreign press are having a field day.

When it was announced early this morning that Pakistan Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq had been summoned to answer charges of “breaching the code of conduct”, and that team officials threatened to abandon the forthcoming one day series against England, it was the latest chapter in a saga that has occupied the newspaper front pages of cricket loving nations.

While deep down English supporters might be secretly thinking that a win is a win, the Asian media have attacked officiating umpire Darrell Hair, labelling him as a “Hitler”, biased against Pakistan, and a racist. The ICC have even been called “idiots” for hiring him in the first place. Hair has even sparked protests on the streets of Islamabad where pictures of him were burned.

But it’s good to see that some Australians have stuck behind one of their own with Steve Waugh coming out swinging, saying that although Hair might have his shortcomings he “stands by what he believes so you can’t ask for much more from an umpire”. Local media has gone so far as to suggest that Hair is the “the bravest man in cricket”.

Yet not everyone is blaming Hair. Others have shifted the focus to the Pakistan team and captain, highlighting their suspicious history of ball tampering and arguing that even if Hair’s decision was questionable, the Pakistan team should have returned to the field. It has even surfaced that England players may have suspected ball tampering on Saturday, when Marcus Trescothick was seen studying the Pakistan players through binoculars after being dismissed.

Whatever the case this isn’t going to die down soon. Watch this space.

Peter Fray

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