Hair the imposing man in the middle who is never far from a controversial call

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The Independent Online

Controversy has dogged series between England and Pakistan for quite some time, but it has followed Australian umpire Darrell Hair around as well.

After the Headingley Test two weeks ago, it was reported that Pakistan had made an official complaint about Hair and had objected to him standing in this match, claiming that they found his manner towards them "dismissive " and "rude". They also felt he had made some less than accurate decisions against them.

Apart from the stature accorded him by his position, physically Hair is an imposing figure on the pitch, standing 6ft 4in. He was born in Mudgee, New South Wales, and played for North Sydney and Mosman before becoming a first-class umpire in 1988.

He made his international umpiring debut in a one-day game in the World Series Cup between West Indies and India at Adelaide in 1991. His first Test, which was also at the Adelaide Oval, came a year later and was between Australia ­ before it became compulsory to have two neutral umpires ­ and India. Including the current match, he has umpired 76 Tests and 122 one-day internationals.

Oddly, although he is Australia's most senior umpire, the 53-year-old is now resident in England, but only on the England and Wales Cricket Board's reserve list.

He is not a popular figure on the sub-continent and fell foul of Pakistan last winter when they made it clear they did not want him to feature in their series against India.

In Pakistan's home series against England last November, Hair was involved in an unsavoury incident when he warned Pakistan opener Salman Butt for running on the pitch, though his "offence" looked innocuous. Butt was sufficiently disturbed to lose his wicket to the following ball. Hair also removed Danish Kaneria from the Pakistan attack for running on the wicket against the West Indies in Jamaica last year.

In 1995, Hair called Muttiah Muralitharan, of Sri Lanka, for throwing the ball seven times.

In 1996, India felt some of his decisions went against them in a Test series in England. In 1999, Hair had a row with then India coach Kapil Dev which began with Hair walking up to Ajit Agarkar during a game against New South Wales in Sydney when Agarkar expressed his disappointment at a decision.

Later, when a TV replay showed Hair's colleague was wrong with another decision, the Australian reportedly had a row with then India captain Sourav Ganguly.

It is thought that sub-continent complaints played a big role in Hair being left out of the International Cricket Council's élite panel of umpires when it was first constituted in 2002.

Hair is not the first umpire to get on the wrong side of a cricketing country.

Shakoor Rana's umpiring infamously caused England captain Mike Gatting to lead off his side in protest during the 1987 Test against Pakistan in Faisalabad. Now the implication of ball tampering has been the last straw for the 2006 Pakistan squad.

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