Hair will be 'kept away' from Pakistan matches
The ICC announced yesterday that Hair would be available to umpire major matches again after completing a mutually-agreed rehabilitation period. It followed his effective removal from big-time cricket in the aftermath of the forfeited Oval Test in 2006.
"We will probably keep him away from Pakistan matches where we can," Dave Richardson, the ICC's general manager cricket, told the BBC. "We don't want to put umpires in an almost impossible position where any mistake they might make would be under such scrutiny that the pressure becomes impossible."
Hair's reinstatement has sparked outrage in the country, with Inzamam-ul-Haq, who captained Pakistan in the Oval Test, saying he was "shocked and disgusted" by the news. Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan board chairman during the Oval Test, also expressed similar sentiments.
An ICC spokesman told Cricinfo there was no condition attached to Hair's return. "However, in making umpires' appointments a certain amount of common sense is applied," he added. "There is enough pressure on umpires without us contributing to it by appointing them to inappropriate matches or games that will heap undue attention on them."
Before Richardson's statement, Cricinfo asked Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, whether Pakistan would object if Hair was appointed to any of their matches. Ashraf's reply underscored the feeling that the decision was part of an understanding with the PCB: "All I can say is that we, the PCB, have full confidence and faith in the ICC management that they will exercise wise judgment in assigning Mr Hair in international matches."
Shafqat Naghmi, the chief operating officer, was more definite: "I don't think he will ever be officiating in matches in which Pakistan is a party," he told Geo English, a Pakistani TV channel, earlier on Wednesday.
Richardson dismissed suggestions, though, that Hair would be kept away from games involving other Asian countries. "It's pointless having an umpire on the Elite panel who is excluded from umpiring certain teams. There are always going to be stages in an umpire's career when he is not flavour of the month, but he will come up against an Asian team at some stage.
"Darrell Hair over time seems to polarise opinion, but a lot of his supporters will feel it is justified to bring him back and that he was unjustly kept on the sidelines in the first place. He's good to talk to on the pitch, he's very good with the player and gets the majority of the decisions right."