Darrell Hair tribunal October 9, 2007

A long road back

Ivo Tennant in London
Ivo Tennant assess the fall-out to Darrell Hair's employment tribunal after it came to an abrupt end as the umpire dropped his case against the ICC



It is doubtful whether Darrell Hair will stand in Tests again © Getty Images
Whether or not Darrell Hair can ever umpire again at the highest level will be dependent not on winning over Malcolm Speed or Dave Richardson, but key representatives on the ICC board. Some of these, it can be safely deduced, will not alter their strongly held belief that he should never stand in a Test match again.

What Hair does in the way of standing in Associate matches or training junior umpires over the next six months will not affect their deliberations. There is a general view within the ICC which was stated repeatedly over the six days of the hearing that, on the field, he is a fine umpire. His knowledge of the Laws is beyond reproach. What is at issue is his execution of them, which means that the period between now and the expiry of his contract next March will be largely irrelevant. He will spend it trying to recoup his costs occurred during this hearing.

So what does he have going for him? The fact that his contract actually runs to March 2009, for a start. He has to be given 12 months notice, which means that he is going to be hanging around the ICC for a good while longer and he cannot be ignored.

What has emerged above all from this hearing is the less attractive aspects of ICC governance, coupled with a concern, expressed not least by Michael Atherton, the former England captain who was present last Friday, that some of the delegates are simply not up to the job. There will be calls now for the governing body to be slimmed down. As for Ken Gordon, the West Indies president at the time of the Oval Test, not knowing that Billy Doctrove was a West Indian umpire and confusing him with Steve Bucknor - it beggars belief.

No doubt the ICC was happy to settle before any more of its executives were lacerated by Robert Griffiths, Hair's QC. Having resorted to the law once and seen the beneficial effects of both that and a sympathetic media, there is nothing to say Hair will not take a similar action again if he does not achieve what he wants - at any rate, until he runs out of money. No-one within the governing body will dare treat him with anything other than caution and - he would hope - consideration and respect from now on. If not, back to the courts.

And if he does not return to international cricket? Rest assured that Hair will not be unable to pick up various forms of lucrative employment. There is a book to be written, after dinner speeches to be made, lectures and interviews to be given. He is not a party animal, but he will be in demand - albeit not in Pakistan. He let his solicitor, Paul Gilbert, do the speaking on his behalf on Tuesday, on the basis that he does not want to let slip one stray remark that might upset his employers.

He returns to Australia with his wife, Amanda, at the weekend, having scarcely been unable to believe the good press he has had over the past few days.