ICC ranked Hair second-best umpire before sacking, says report
by CricketArchive staff reporter

Player:DB Hair, PJ Loader, Inzamam-ul-Haq

DateLine: 11th November 2006


The International Cricket Council rated Australian Darrell Hair the second-best umpire in the world before it sacked him for alleged incompetence, reports said on Saturday, citing secret documents. Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper said it had uncovered a copy of the last annual personal performance appraisal that Hair received before the ICC's board of directors sacked him with a 7-3 vote last weekend. The ICC's decision came after Pakistan lodged a complaint against Hair for his role in the historic forfeited Oval Test against England in August and demanded an inquiry into his conduct. Under the headline 'Ultimate Betrayal', the daily said the confidential files, prepared by ICC's umpiring chiefs, revealed Hair was ranked equal-second on the ICC's elite umpiring panel with Australian Simon Taufel believed to be number one. In pure decision-making, Hair was ranked top of the panel, making 253 of 263 correct decisions last year -- a success rate of 95.5 percent compared with 94.8 percent for all umpires, the Daily Telegraph said. Each decision that an umpire of the panel makes throughout the year is assessed on video.


The newspaper said it was primarily the results of the umpiring document that had prompted ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed to appeal to the board not to sack Hair. Speed and other senior ICC officials felt that no matter what the merits of the inquiry's findings of the The Oval test, where Pakistan was penalized runs amid accusations of ball tampering, no fair-minded assessment could justify sacking Hair based on his overall performance, it said.


The match was forfeited, for the first time in Test cricket's 129-year history, when Pakistan refused to return to the field in protest at Hair's ball-tampering accusations. Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was later cleared of illegally altering the ball, although he was banned for four one-day matches for bringing the game into disrepute. The document also praises Hair for his "strong sense of fairness which underlines all that you do ... you are constantly striving for consistency". The umpire is applauded in the document for his confidence, his concentration levels, consistent body language and first-class knowledge of the laws of the game. "It is not always possible to be black and white when applying the code of conduct to player behaviour and this is where you have to make judgment calls," it says. "Your pragmatic approach to problem-solving has enabled you to find commonsense solutions that arise." Hair has made no decision about his future since being sacked, although his departure has caused a stir in umpiring ranks around Australia. Former England Test bowler Peter Loader told The Daily Telegraph he would wear a black armband in Perth grade cricket Saturday for what he believes is "the death of the spirit of cricket". Cricket Australia this week called for the ICC to explain its reasons for dropping umpire Hair off the panel. The organization has offered Hair the chance to move back to Australia and umpire in the local Sheffield Shield competition, but it is likely he will continue to reside in England.