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Darrell Hair not ready to quit so soon

The umpire believes he still has a future in cricket despite ICC's decision vetoing him to officiate the Champions Trophy in India.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2006 14:30 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Darrell Hair believes he still has a future as a cricket umpire despite the furore over his decisions in the forfeited Test between England and Pakistan.

Why? "I'm pretty bloody good at it," he replied. Hair was as a focal point as Inzamam-ul-Haq in an International Cricket Council's disciplinary hearing, which decided on Thursday to ban the Pakistan captain four one-day matches for bringing the game into disrepute.

It also dismissed Hair's more serious allegation of ball-tampering for lack of conclusive evidence.

The hearing stemmed from Hair's decisions on the fourth day of the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at The Oval on August 20. Hair penalized Pakistan five runs for suspicion of ball-tampering.

In protest, Inzamam prevented his players from returning to the field after the tea break. Hair and fellow umpire Billy Doctrove responded by awarding the match to England - the first forfeit in Test history.

Pakistan is demanding Hair be investigated by the ICC. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan said his cricket team has been unhappy with Hair for five years and never wanted him to officiate any game involving their country again.

Khan said the 53-year-old Australian was "very brusque" and "rude" in his dealings with the Pakistan team during the final test.

"Pakistan has a problem with his attitude," Khan said. "We are not questioning his technical ability."

And hours after Thursday's verdict, the ICC withdrew Hair from the October 7 to November 5 Champions Trophy in India for "security and safety" reasons.

"If they have their reasons for that, in their mind not to send me there, I accept that," Hair said adding he'd never received a threat against him.

Hair said Thursday's decision would not affect his future in the game, which had been in doubt since shortly after the abandoned test following the publishing of e-mails he sent to the ICC offering to resign in exchange for US$500,000 (euro393,230).

"It may well have been an ill advised thing to do at the time and I think I've already admitted that," he said. Hair didn't agree with the ICC's decision to publish the private correspondence, but refused to criticize his employer and denied he'd been made a scapegoat.

"I don't feel that at all," he said. "But that is obviously a perception that people will perpetuate."

Hair said he'd never contemplated resignation and would leave it up to the ICC, where he's contracted until March, to decide his next assignment.

"If other people, who have always made those decisions, consider I'm good enough to umpire, I'll continue to do so," he said. "Of course I wish to keep on being an umpire," he added.

Hair confidently and calmly spoke at length in an extended news conference - held before Khan had spoken - and batted away allegations of racism.

"I don't wish to enter into any debate about racism or anything like that," he said.

Hair joined the ranks of international cricket officials in 1992 and has a reputation as a big man with a stern demeanor and a strict interpretation of the rules. He's umpired 76 tests and 124 one-day internationals.

In 1995, Hair called spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for an illegal action. He then didn't officiate in a Sri Lanka match for eight years, even though the ICC officially states that no country can dictate which umpires officiate their matches.

"The first thing you learn about being an official... is to expect criticism," Hair said. "If you can't handle criticism, you shouldn't be out there."

Hair noted Doctrove had escaped most of the criticism, despite the fact that decisions in unfair play usually require both umpires to agree.

"A lot of people could be forgiven for thinking there was only one umpire out there," he said.

Hair's yet to be given another officiating assignment, and he's considering taking a holiday to mull over the past month. "Do I understand everything? No, I probably don't," he said. "There's a lot of questions I don't understand."

First Published: Sep 29, 2006 12:03 IST