Umpire admits to depression October 1, 2007

Hair: 'I want people to know the truth'

Ivo Tennant

Darrell Hair: 'It has been a tough and depressing time' © Getty Images
It was Darrell Hair's birthday yesterday and his wedding anniversary falls tomorrow. This is hardly, though, a time of good cheer. Sandwiched in-between is the small matter of the opening day of one of the most significant legal actions within sport of recent times. He is suing the ICC, his employers, for racial discrimination.

Hair who remains on the ICC's elite panel, has chosen to sue the governing body of the game in the employment tribunal in central London as this enables him to include his claim for racial discrimination as well as a claim for breaches of his contract with the ICC.

At issue is the fact that Billy Doctrove, who stood with him when Pakistan were accused of ball-tampering in the final Test at The Oval last year, and who is a black West Indian, is still officiating in Tests and one day internationals. Hair has not stood in one since that September day when his symbolic lifting of the bails signalled that the match would be forfeited.

Ever since last February, when he filed his claim, he has been immersed in paperwork in preparation, with his legal team, for this case. He and his wife, Amanda, moved back to Australia in March, and his solitary state - his wife works - has been alleviated only by visits to friends and the occasional trip to the Hunter Valley vineyards. Hair has suffered from depression.

"It has been a tough and depressing time but this is not about money, principles or pride," he said. "I want people to know the truth. I have got through these difficult times by seeing friends and keeping busy. A lot of players, coaches, management and umpires, including Doctrove and David Shepherd, have been supportive. I have had letters, text messages and e-mails that have run into five figures and not one has been opposed to my actions at The Oval." Doctrove, a family friend, will be a key witness on his behalf.

"I have missed international cricket after 15 years involvement," he admitted. "I have not followed the game on television. I have watched racing instead."

It has been a tough and depressing time

After three years living in Lincoln, where he has retained a house, Hair has moved to the Sydney inner west suburb of Concord. "It was not a question of wanting a better climate; I liked the changing seasons. But I was happy to return to Australia because I was given a lot of support from their umpires."

Hair is contracted to the ICC until April of next year. Although he has served as a part-time consultant on the Laws of Cricket for MCC, he has given no thought to becoming an umpires' coach, a role which now exists for retired officials.

"I do not think I would ever make much sense as a commentator," he said. His wife, who once sat on Nottinghamshire's committee and is now the chief executive of Local Government Managers New South Wales, is completely supportive. "Darrell needs a resolution. It may be helpful to him that I know about cricket, but it worries me he has been depressed."

Ivo Tennant writes for The Times. He will be covering this hearing for Cricinfo