There was something a little bit unexpected, a little bit interesting, a little bit poignant and a little bit thought-provoking about coming across England's most experienced international umpire on the day which gave us the biggest umpiring controversy to hit international cricket since...oh, since the last time Darrell Hair annoyed an Asian Test team.
David Shepherd, in his capacity as President of Devon CCC, was at Exmouth, watching Devon play Wales in the Minor Counties Championship. As the sun glinted off the water in the bay, the swallows soared and swooped over the ground, and the former Somerset and Surrey bowler Ian Bishop gave one of the best demonstrations of fast-medium outswing bowling you could ever wish to see, the controversy of The Oval seemed a very long way away.
Shep in retirement is still an avuncular and genial figure; he's lost some weight and acquired some glasses. But what, in the position in which the Oval umpires found themselves, would he have done?
He wasn't saying, but it's a fair bet that he might have shown a bit more tact than Hair and had a quiet word with Inzamam before deciding to award any penalty runs. Hair (and, by association, Billy Doctrove) probably got things either slightly wrong (if the damage to the ball was illegally caused) or very wrong (if, as the Pakistan team seem to be claiming, nothing dubious happened at all).
The indignation of the Pakistan team can be understood, as can their perceived need to make a stand. However, when you're playing cricket at the highest level (or any level) it's generally best to get yourself onto the field when the umpires say so.
If you don't, you might just find that they've applied the laws of the game and you've lost a match which you could - indeed should - have won.
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