Umpire Hair no stranger to controversy
by AFP

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Player:DB Hair
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 21st August 2006


The shock decision to call off the fourth and final Test at The Oval here Sunday and award the match to England with a day to spare after Pakistan had been charged with ball tampering was not the first time Australia umpire Darrell Hair had found himself enmeshed in controversy.


Hair, whose refusal to rescind his decision taken alongside Billy Doctrove to penalise Pakistan five runs was cited by officials as the reason why the match could not continue, is a love-hate figure within the cricket world.


To his supporters the 53-year-old Australian is one of the last top-flight umpires confident enough to back his own judgment and uphold the game's laws in full, whatever the cost.


To his critics, he is a spotlight-seeking pedant.


In 1995/96 he was centre stage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where he called Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, whose career has been dogged by questions over the legitimacy of his action, for throwing.


Hair then further enraged Sri Lanka supporters, and many cricket fans within the Indian sub-continent especially, by branding Muralitharan's action "diabolical" in his autobiography.


But as early as 1994 Peter Kirsten, the South Africa opening batsman, was fined 65 percent of his match fee for what Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, the sport's bible, called an "animated conversation" with Hair over lbw decisions.


And there was a hint of the dramatic events to come at The Oval when, after England's 167-run win in the third Test at Headingley earlier this month, Britain's Independent on Sunday newspaper reported that Pakistan had made an official complaint about Hair.


That said Pakistan had also objected to him standing in the series-finale with the tourists saying they found his manner towards them "dismissive" and "rude".


When the inuagural elite International Cricket Council (ICC) umpiring panel was announced in 2002 the experienced Hair, who umpired his first Test in 1992, was left off the list although he did join it a year later.


That led him to move to England to cut down the time he'd spent travelling around the world.


Hair made the news again in November when he upset Pakistan by ruling that captain Inzamam-ul-Haq had been run out by a throw from England fast bowler Stephen Harmison back to the wicket-keeper during the Faisalabad Test even though the batsman appeared to be taking evasive action.


This match was Hair's 76th as a Test umpire. He first stood in first-class cricket in 1988-89 having previously been a fast bowler, for North Sydney and Mosman in the Sydney grade club competition.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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