Darrell Bruce Hair
September 30, 1952, Mudgee, New South Wales
Right arm Fast medium
A great big bear of a man, Darrell Hair was the first big-name umpiring casualty when the inaugural elite panel was announced in 2002. Hair, who had been on the original international outfit since its inception in 1997, had ruffled too many subcontinental feathers - first by calling Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in a Test at the MCG in 1995-96, then by claiming in his autobiography that Murali's action was "diabolical". When the elite eight were revealed, Daryl Harper was the Australian representative, even though by then Hair had umpired in an Australian-record 44 Tests, as well as 75 ODIs.
Hair is generally popular with the players, and was eventually added to the elite panel alongside Billy Bowden and Simon Taufel when it expanded in 2003. The appointment led to him moving to England a year later to cut down his travel as the ICC's regulations prevent umpires standing in home Tests. .
He began umpiring in first-class cricket in 1988-89, and reached the Test arena three years later. In his youth Hair was a handy fast bowler, playing for North Sydney and Mosman in the tough Sydney grade competition before a knee injury cut short his career.
A quiet but no-nonsense individual, Hair's strengths - and weaknesses - are straight talking and unwavering self-belief. But, as with the Muralitharan incident, he has seemed to be dogged by controversy, and many claimed that he was particularly hard on certain teams. Things came to a head in August 2006 when he was at the centre of a ball-tampering storm at the Oval when Pakistan forfeited a match for the first time in Test cricket's 129-year history and, in November, he was banned from umpiring by the ICC following pressure from the Asian bloc. He subsequently relocated to Australia with his English-born wife, after three years in the UK. In October 2007 he sued the ICC for racial discrimination - based on the fact Billy Doctrove, his colleague, had not been punished - but withdrew the charges after seven days. In March 2008 Hair was reinstated by the ICC after a six-month rehabilitation period, having not been officially removed from the Elite panel of umpires, officiating in two Tests between England and New Zealand. But further offers of top-flight umpiring were not forthcoming by the ICC, and Hair resigned after 17 years service to concentrate on development and coaching.
Cricinfo staff August 2008
Umpire & Referee