Umpire Darrell Hair is taking legal action against world cricket's governing body and the Pakistan Cricket Board for racial discrimination.
Hair feels he was made a scapegoat when he was barred from officiating Test matches after the forfeited Oval Test between England and Pakistan in August.
This is a story of madness.
For my American or other non-cricket loving readers, suffice it to say that Darrell Hair was a top international cricket umpire who was always a bit mad (egotistical kind of mad) and then one day last summer went much madder – that is, over the acceptable level of madness even for cricket umpires (a profession that tolerates a pretty high degree of insanity). This particular bit of madness forced an entire cricket team to respond in an equally mad manner, all in the context of a game that is already perhaps the most eccentric humanity has contrived, so Hair was sacked. This has subsequently driven him completely nuts.
There is nothing particularly surprising about the fact that a mad person can make it to the top of his profession. Everyone who makes it to the top of anything is, by definition, mad. Those at the bottom can also afford to be shamelessly mad, and enjoy it. Both top and bottom level madness are all-consuming, every single day kinds of madness, and both sets of people have the comfort of not realising that they are, in fact, mad.
Those who bounce around in the middle must accept that they are either not quite mad enough, or else too aware of their own particular brand of madness, to get to the top.
It has long been my contention that everybody is mad except for me.* In his (somewhat queasy) novel Stanley and the Women, Kingsley Amis observed that whereas men are mad in specific, easily-defined compartments of their lives (cricket-watching, plinking, collecting birds eggs, serial killing etc), women have a more subtle kind of madness which is harder to pinpoint or predict but which covers everything they think, do or say.
Of course, this is a deliberate over-simplification. Susan McClary’s madness, for example, is very easy to spot (see below).
*I am merely eccentric.