Hair invited his demise

I have read with great interest the opinions expressed my learned colleagues around the world over the sacking of Darrell Hair and I appreciate every word and sentiment they have written. I am also wiser for having shared their opinions.

The fact that the majority of the sentiment coming out of England and Australia is semi-hysterical righteous indignation should not detract from the strength of feeling that exists in those countries. There are clear signs of panic amongst cricket lovers in the game’s founding nations but the continuing, screaming references to the ‘Asian nations’ and their rising power in the game seem, to me, to be missing the point entirely. Certainly in the case of Darrell Hair.

Let’s look at the situation as though it were taking place in the ‘conventional’ business world. Imagine a large, public company with a chief executive, a financial director, a board of 10 other directors and several thousand share-holders.

One day, the financial director approaches a fellow director and accuses him of stealing from the company. The accused is dumbfounded and denies the accusation. The FD then bides his time and waits until the next board meeting before accusing the director once again of cheating.

The other directors, naturally, ask the FD to produce evidence of the corruption – to which the FD replies: “You’ve all seen that new car he’s driving, and what about that young wife of his. Just look at the smile on his face – he’s obviously stealing!”

That being the sum total of the FD’s “evidence”, the other directors will obviously lose confidence in their financial man and he will be required to move on and find another job. If he had produced genuine and credible evidence that the accused director was in fact stealing, then he would have kept his job and probably been given a performance bonus.

Those are the simple rules of the business world.

But Darrell Hair went a step further. He didn’t just accuse the Pakistan team of cheating, and he didn’t just do it in the board room, he waited for the annual share holders’ meeting attended by thousands and thousands of people – the biggest stage he could possibly find. And then he didn’t just present a document for the directors to consider, he jumped onto the directors’ table with a megaphone and addressed the massed audience: “They are cheats!!”

Of course, as head match referee Ranjan Madugalle later confirmed in a hearing involving some very, very competent lawyers, Hair didn’t actually have any evidence for his accusation. Is it really any wonder that cricket’s directors took the action they did? As Percy Sonn said in Mumbai after cricket’s directors’ meeting, the “board has lost confidence in Darrell Hair.” Just as any business would lose confidence in any director in similar circumstances.

What has particularly intrigued me about the musings of many of my friends in England and Australia, however, is the peculiar notion that Hair’s demise has somehow compromised the sanctity of umpires worldwide. They are suggesting that umpires will now be fearful of the consequences of their decisions, particularly if they are made ‘against’ Asian nations.
It is hard to find words of adequate weight to describe such a sad outlook on the world. For goodness sake, Hair didn’t give a questionable lbw! We are not talking about a missed nick down the leg side! He accused the Pakistan team of cheating, and – by penalising them five runs – he did
so at the top of his voice in front of the world.

And he was wrong. He was bloody well wrong.

Frankly, he is lucky to have kept his contract with the ICC who will continue to pay his salary until March 2008.

If he wants his old job and status back, instead of considering legal action, which is what Hair is purportedly doing, he should hit the road and go to Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. He should offer his services to the boards of those countries by officiating in domestic cricket and helping to train up-and-coming umpires because there’s no doubt he is good on the technical side of the job.

Unfortunately for Hair, good umpires are also good in dealing with people and they never allow anybody to perceive them as biased or prejudiced. Hair may be neither biased nor prejudiced, but somehow the ‘Asian bloc’ has developed a perception that he is. And in cricket, as in
life, perception is reality.

Hair should go there, apologise for his heavy-handed and tactless handling of the Oval Test, and show his accusers what he is really made of.

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