INDIA COULD well be cricket's next battleground when the Champions Trophy begins next month, if Darrell Hair is appointed as an umpire for the event. At the moment, ICC officials have indicated that Hair is among the umpires they have short-listed.
An official release was expected on Wednesday but did not materialise, ostensibly because ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed was in China. "We will soon send out a list of appointments," ICC GM (Communications) Brian Murgatroyd told HT.
Despite the ICC's revelation about Hair asking for $500,000 to step down from its Elite Panel, an official said "officially there is nothing that should keep Hair", one of its top-rated umpires, "from officiating" at the event from October 7 to November 5.
He added: "Though we have 10 umpires on the Elite Panel, all of them will not officiate at the Champions Trophy." It is understood that they are waiting for Speed before deciding on what is seen as a sensitive matter.
While the ICC has apparently received no written request from Pakistan about Hair standing in Champions Trophy games, officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board said Pakistan would not play in games where Hair would officiate. They said they expected the appointments to be made after Inzamam ul-Haq's disciplinary hearing on September 27 and 28.
The logical thing, even if Hair officiates at the Trophy, will be to not appoint him for any Pakistan game. Hair, meanwhile, told The Courier Mail: "I'm not sure what matches I'll be doing but I'm looking forward to India."