Speculation continues to mount over the future of Darrell Hair after his apology for offering his resignation in exchange for a small measure of extortion. Clearly he won’t umpire at the highest level again – but he still has over a year of his ICC contract to run? What will become of him?
If ever there was a doubt that he was a stubborn and argumentative man, it was expelled by his behaviour in the fourth Test. Never mind Pakistan’s protest (which was also wrong), the fact that Hair penalised the touring side five runs for ball tampering was where it all went wrong. The law was written purely so the umpire could have a powerful tool at his disposal in the event that he caught a bowler or fielder attempting to carve his name into the side of the ball with a penknife. Hair knew his action was as extreme a gesture of provocation as an umpire could produce. He went ahead anyway, and must now bear the consequences.
The ICC, too, are having to bear the consequences. What on earth do you do with a lame duck/white elephant as problematic as Mr Hair? They can’t sack him because he will, no doubt, be supported by a slush fund of Aussie sympathy money designed to back him in every court between London and Melbourne and, win or lose, the ICC know that won’t be good for the game.
And it’s clear to everyone that he can’t carry on as an international umpire.
Apart from the actual decision, the ICC will have to tread more carefully than an overweight herron on freshly sprouted lilipads with the wording of their decision, whenever they reach one. In the meantime, I thought I’d have a go on their behalf:
“The ICC still deeply regrets the events which lead to the unhappy conclusion of the fourth Test match between England and Pakistan at the Oval last month and will do everything in its power to maintain the good name and enhance the reputation of the game.
“After a 15 days of negotiation and discussion we are delighted to announce that Darrell Hair’s abilities as one of the best umpires in the world will not be lost to the ICC and we are equally pleased to announce that he has accepted a new role and a challenge vital to the continued growth of the game globally.
“ICC has long spoken about the emergence of the game in less traditional regions of the world and has often noted that, while playing numbers continue to grow, meaningful competition will always be hampered by a lack of knowledgeable and confident umpires. ICC has, to this end, created a new post within its structures: International Emerging Officials Managing Mentor – Umpires.
“Darrell will begin his new position with an eight week position in ICC’s South Pacific region based in Fongofale in Tuvalu but also working closely with the cricket federations of Fiji, Tonga. Soloman Islands and Vanuatu. Mr Hair will then move to the Emerging Nations programme in central Africa based in Gabon but, once again, covering over a dozen nations in the region from Congo in the west to Kenya and Somalia in the east. Mr Hair will conclude the first year of his contract working with ICC’s far Eastern nations and will be based in Beijing.
“By working closely with the few existing umpires in these regions and mentoring a new generation of future umpires, Darrell Hair can make an indelible impression on the future of the game, put the controversy of the Oval Test behind him and ensure that his talents are remembered for all the right reasons.
“Pakistan captain Inzimam-ul-Haq attended a disciplinary hearing yesterday and was warned in the strongest terms about his future conduct. He wished to stress to all aspirant young cricketers that the umpires decision should be final. Mostly.”
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