You’ve been publicly accused of behaviour which breaks the most fundamental ethos of your chosen vocation. Which would you prefer:

1. To stand before an official inquiry in which evidence will be considered and you will have a chance to defend yourself, knowing the process will be relatively transparent and the results will be made public;

2. To receive a DVD of your performance in the mail with a neatly typed report and a promise of an imminent “discussion” with the boss that will stay forever behind closed doors, freeing the media to hang you as slowly as they please.

These are the trials which the two major players in HairBallGate will shortly face: Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq will experience the first this Friday, umpire Darrell Hair the second at an unknown time thereafter.

Both processes are the work of the International Cricket Council, but only one of them can provide a satisfactory result for its central figure. The ICC, in its determination to protect umpires, has locked away its umpiring assessment procedures such that whatever judgement awaits Inzy will immediately be made known to the whole world, while we will only ever know what the ICC thinks of Darrell Hair’s performance if he is dropped from the Elite Umpires Panel.

So Hair will be tried by the media instead, a process which is as public as it is voracious. If you haven’t seen the coverage by now, here’s a sample of the current debate over Darrell Hair:

  • “stubborn to the point of intransigence” – Derek Pringle, Telegraph (UK)
  • “pathetic” – Rashid Latif, BBC
  • “a villain … arbitrary … insensitive … a racist” – Ramiz Raja, The Nation (Pakistan)
  • “a mini Hitler” – Imran Khan, The Nation (Pakistan)
  • “a bonehead” – Peter RoebuckThe Age

There’s also a long list of mostly Australian columnists coming, as they see it, to Hair’s aid, but being called a “hero” is as useless as being called a Nazi. What Hair needs is a fair and transparent hearing, not a secret DVD in the mail.