Afridi goes from hero to villain, umpires stay as villains
One day after blasting England's bowlers around
, Shahid Afridi got into the match referee's (and I dare say, Inzi's and Woolmer's as well) bad books when he admitted to damaging the pitch yesterday when England was batting. He has now been banned for one test and two one-dayers
. This means he will not play any role in the next test at Lahore starting next week. He had the ability, with his bowling and his batting, to significantly impact the way Pakistan played. Now because of an idiotic act, Pakistan will find themselves without his penchant for making things happen. Then again, the truth will perhaps never be out about whether he scruffed up the protected area
on his own or if someone in the team (or outside) told him to do so.
It was a totally dumb thing to do in the context of the game, the series and probably his career. There were so many TV cameras and photographers waiting to capture some action or the other. They did get their action when a gas cylinder in the drinks trolley
exploded, causing a fair amount of chaos in the stands and on the field. The umpires decided to take a break. That was when Afridi had his moment of madness.
Earlier in the day though, there was yet another moment of madness. Inzamam drove a ball from Harmison back down the wicket and in his follow-through, took a step forward. Harmison, merely continuing what Simon Jones had started
during the Natwest Series, hurled the ball at the stumps and appealed for a run-out. The umpires conferred and referred it to Nadeem Ghauri, the third umpire, who saw that Inzamam's foot or bat weren't grounded when the ball hit the stumps and hence ruled him out. The sequence of events is reflected fairly in the following pictures:
The problem was that Inzamam was not attempting to take a run. Hence he could not have been out since Law 38.2 (a)
makes it abundantly clear that the batsman was not out if he was within his ground and had subsequently left the crease to avoid injury.
So, as Sambit Bal points out
, Inzi was hard done by. England got a wicket when they shouldn't have. The on-field umpires, Taufel and Hair, who are supposed to know these rules, faltered and referred the issue to the third umpire when they should have declared on the field of play that he was not out. If on the first day, they erred in not
referring Yousuf's dismissal to the third umpire, yesterday, they erred in doing so. The unfortunate bit is that technology would not have helped. All it needed was a knowledge of the rules and common sense.