Bob Woolmer's face was a picture yesterday as he contemplated the full implications of Sunday's ball-tampering allegations against his Pakistan side. The coach has always loved the game of cricket deeply, as anyone who encountered him during his time at Edgbaston knows. But now he was involved in a ruinous stand-off.
Woolmer's input and perspective are valuable ingredients in trying to broker a compromise. He is a reasonable man, ready to have dialogue rather than amateur dramatics. When Woolmer castigates the attitude of the umpire Darrell Hair towards the Pakistani players, then we should listen and respect their point of view.
There are precedents in the ICC moving a controversial umpire away from a dissenting side. That should have applied here. The Pakistanis protested about Hair being selected for the Leeds and Oval Tests and their reasons should not be waved away peremptorily. Nobody now cavils at the use of neutral umpires and that was something the Pakistanis advocated a quarter of a century ago.
Some more thoughts from the final Test of the summer at the Oval... If Pakistan had been able to field their first-choice pace attack throughout the series, it would have been a very close contest. Mohammad Asif looked a high-class performer after recovering from a sore elbow. He moved the ball around at a decent lick, and had a bit to say for himself in the close exchanges with the batsmen.
Add the explosive Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Naved-ul-Hassan and that's a trio that covers most of the basics needed for a cutting edge. Umar Gul showed a lot of promise also. Add the leg-spin of Danish Kaneria and you have a classy bowling line-up.
It's true that England suffered through injuries to key members of the team, but Pakistan never put out their first-choice side.
Talking of Mohammad Asif, he's not short of confidence off the field. Graham Gooch bumped into him at Chelmsford earlier in the season, where the Pakistani was playing for Leicestershire. Asif was having a crafty fag behind the pavilion and as he lit up his second at some speed, Gooch offered the thought that fast bowlers who smoked were a rarity these days.
Asif gave Gooch a sideways look, clearly unaware that he was talking to one of English cricket's living legends. When Gooch finally introduced himself, there was a spark of recognition. "Ah!" he said, wreathed in smiles: "Big belly!"
Gooch, who has run six marathons since giving up his cricket career, admits that he puts on weight rather too easily. Time flies when you realise a current international can only connect with Graham Gooch's bulk when introduced...
One of the features this summer at the Tests is the relentlessly cheerful tone of the matchday programme. You churn out four quid for a publication that has the fingerprints of the ECB's publicity department all over it. Not a word of detached criticism is allowed to sully its contents.
Everything in the English cricket garden is rosy, according to the programme. It's relentlessly upbeat.
Turning to page 65 in the Oval programme, there's a breathless encomium about the viewing figures for the TV highlights on Five that are broadcast.
Detailed statistical breakdowns indicate that they are going well, although a peak of just over a million out of a population of 60 million in this country is hardly worth trebles and knighthoods all round. It's true that Five's highlights audience is larger than Channel 4 last year, but the latter used to go out after midnight most days, compared to 7.15pm this summer.
Anyway, at least the highlights remain on terrestrial television. It's when you turn the pages of ECB's answer to Pravda that you can read between the lines.
On pages 26-31 of the Oval programme, there's a feature marking the 100th England Test to be covered by Sky Sports. There are plugs for Sky Sports on pages 12, 13, 21, 84 and the logo is on the cover.
But nowhere can we find out just how many are watching England live on Sky Sports this summer. It seems strange that we can read all about Five's perceived success in audience figures, but nothing about the only TV station where we can watch our national side playing live.