Friday, August 25, 2006

What seemed like a serious but by no means life-threatening incident at The Oval last weekend has now escalated into a full-on catastrophe for international cricket.

The revelation that Darrell Hair offered to resign his position as an ICC umpire in return for a one-off payment of half a million dollars is just staggering. I'm not entirely sure what the ICC's reasoning was for making the e-mail public as they must have known what would happen.

Last week, Darrell Hair was damaged by the allegation that his actions were unwise, although not against the rules, when he changed the ball without speaking to Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq and, to be blunt, a little bit childish when he refused to come back out on to the field of play following Pakistan's protest. But there's a world of difference between being damaged, and possibly not being picked for matches that involve teams from the subcontinent, and the situation we now find ourselves in whereby he surely cannot continue as a professional Test umpire under any circumstances.

Not to put too fine a point on it, he has lost his moral authority and that is the cornerstone of an umpire's position. Every player now knows that Hair has a price. We're used to allegations involving players - anything from match-fixing to providing information about the pitch to bookmakers has been thrown in the past. But umpires must be seen as incorruptible. I can see it now - if he were ever to stand as an umpire again, the first time he turns down an appeal for lbw, he will get the question from the fielding side 'well, how much do you want to give it out?'

That situation is intolerable and Hair's position is now untenable. His offer to step down will surely now be granted - but he won't walk off into the sunset with half a million dollars, just the last tattered remnants of what used to be his reputation.

Last song on the iPod: The Divine Comedy - A Lady Of A Certain Age

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Found a list of 'top 10 books on the darker side of adolescence' in the Guardian archives the other day. Unsurprisingly, Golding's 'Lord of the Flies' sits proudly at number 1 but I was pleasantly taken aback to see DBC Pierre's 'Vernon God Little' make the top 10.

It's one of the best new novels I've read in the last few years and I'd recommend it to anyone. A deserving winner of the Booker Prize in 2003 - check it out!
Following last week's alleged foiling of a 'terror plot' (is no modern news story complete without the 'T' word?), it's difficult to escape the feeling that the general public is simply very very sceptical about this kind of story in the light of the public relations disasters that have been the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes and Forest Gate.

Scotland Yard and the Government need to be as transparent as possible about how this situation came about, without compromising the security services. People have been misled, ignored and simply lied to for so long that their first thought when a story like this breaks is no longer 'how terrible, we are prepared to put up with any inconvenience to protect our safety and support the police' but 'what are they trying to achieve by staging this?' Is it to convince us of the need for ID cards or other security measures that compromise our hard-fought liberties, or to try to shore up support for their wars in the Middle East by insisting that there are hundreds of cells full of Western-hating Islamists ready to unleash their fury on us?

And that's a dangerous game. Scotland Yard may find that, by crying wolf once too often, they're not taken seriously if and when the apocalypse really does arrive.....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tonight is the first opportunity to see the Perseid meteor shower in the eastern sky. The best nights are rumoured to be tomorrow and Saturday for a look at one of the most dependable meteor showers of the year.

Check them out from around 10pm onwards each night until around 15th August - it's usually well worth it.

Last song on the iPod: Beastie Boys - No Sleep Till Brooklyn
An emotional farewell to my good friend and colleague Mr Todd tomorrow as he leaves the office to go back to college and study art and design.

It's been a thoroughly enjoyable 20 months working together - conversation topics have ranged from the drift towards the centre in British politics and corresponding lack of ideology to whether a Jaffa Cake, despite its name, is really more of a biscuit than a cake.

It'll certainly be quieter and less fun in the office now - although it may be more productive - and I really wish him every success in his new career.

Good luck for the future Toddy, and don't you dare be a stranger.

Last song on the iPod: The Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A successful sporting weekend indeed. Yesterday, HVCC completed a routine win over rock-bottom Bristol 3rd XI. Most of the Bristol lads were 16 or under and our biggest opponent was complacency. There appeared to be plenty of that as we allowed them to race to 50-1 in a flat, subdued atmosphere but we managed to pull it round and dismiss them for 121 before racing to the target in under 20 overs.

I felt sorry for them, having to trek out to an away game knowing they would most likely be on the receiving end of a hammering. We did plenty of it last year and it's not a nice feeling. With luck, they'll be better off next year - in a lower division and they'll all be a year bigger, quicker and stronger. Good luck, lads.

More good sporting news today as CCFC launched their season with a victory over Sunderland, coming from behind to win 2-1. The Championship is really strong this year so to start with a win over a team that were in the Premiership last year, albeit hopelessly outclassed, is encouraging.