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