Hair rebuked as no shows undermine umpire's case

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The Independent Online

By Ivo Tennant

Darrell Hair, who was demoted by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the ball-tampering row at the Oval last year, was strongly criticised yesterday by one of its senior executives who sat on a three-man sub-committee to determine his future.

Sir John Anderson, the chairman of New Zealand's Board, said that the umpire's decision to call a premature end to the final Test was "the most appalling decision I have seen in my entire life". Anderson was one of the ICC executives who were deputed to form a sub-committee by Percy Sonn, the then president. He told the hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal, where the umpire is suing the ICC for racial discrimination, that they had lost confidence in him and that he ought no longer to stand in Tests or one-day internationals, including the World Cup.

"I had no issue with any decision Mr Hair made over ball-tampering on the field, but I totally disagree with his decision not to restart the match," said Anderson. "Darrell Hair refused to budge to avoid embarrassing himself. He acted within the Laws of Cricket, but he is a law unto himself.

"He should have acted in the best interests of the game, in commercial terms, the spectators, television and sponsors. He should have used every means possible to persuade Pakistan to play on, for an umpire must use all means possible to do so." The match was awarded to England after Inzamam-ul-Haq – who once again did not appear at the hearing – did not lead his side back on to the field at the end of the tea interval on the fourth day.

The best resolution, Anderson told the hearing, was to keep Hair on the elite panel so as he could not sue the ICC, but utilise him to train umpires rather than run the risk of a similar occurrence in a Test match. "I still hold that view," he said. "Mr Hair knows the Laws but he cloaks himself in them. His race was not mentioned in our 45-minute sub-committee meeting. We were concerned about protecting the game of cricket."

Although Anderson insisted that Hair was the senior umpire at the Oval, he was forced to admit when queried by the chairman of the three-man tribunal that no such position existed in the Laws. "It has become the custom to have a lead umpire," he said. Hair's standpoint is that he, a white Australian, took decisions in unison with Billy Doctrove, a black West Indian, but he has been racially discriminated against by the ICC.

Doctrove was due to have flown in to London from Dominica yesterday morning, but failed to board the flight, citing only "personal reasons" to Hair's solicitors and not even saying whether there had been a death in the family. An ICC spokesman refuted that there had been any pressure exerted on him not to attend and that, although Doctrove had asked the governing body for advice over whether to stop over in London on his way home from an umpires seminar in Johannesburg, it had felt this would be inappropriate. The umpire had wanted to go straight back to the Caribbean.

It now seems certain that Inzamam will not appear. He told Hair's solicitors that he hoped to be picked by Pakistan for their second Test against South Africa and also mentioned that he did not want to travel during Ramadan. The tribunal is keeping an open mind on whether to impose sanctions that could result in prosecution, given that he has been served a summons. On top of all this, Jimmy Adams, the former West Indies captain who is another witness, did not appear, either. He, too, is apparently in the Caribbean. Trying to entice star names to London is proving quite a struggle for Hair.