Steve Waugh, Taufel hail Hair~~s decision

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: Umpire Darrell Hair has been hailed a hero in Australia for his role in the ball tampering row which led to Pakistan forfeiting the fourth Test against England.

While Hair has been branded a racist in parts of Asia and derided as an attention seeker by sections of the British media, he has been praised by Australians for standing by his convictions.

Former Test captain Steve Waugh and Umpire Simon Taufel, the International Cricket Council's umpire of the year, both said they supported Hair's decision to abandon the match after Pakistan captain Inzamam ul-Haq's team refused to resume playing.

''I definitely agree with that -- if they don't go back on the field the Test is over,'' Waugh told the <>Daily Telegraph.'' ''If the fielding side refuses to take the field, there is not much the umpires can do,'' Taufel told the Sydney Morning Herald.

''Umpires have to follow the laws as they are written, so it's hard to fault the umpires in this case.'' The Australian media also sided with Hair, saying he should be applauded for taking a tough stand against the scourge of ball tampering.

Robert Craddock, writing for the <>Daily Telegraph., said he had been told by an English umpire last year that ball tampering was now rife in the English county competition but other umpires were afraid to speak up because of the repercussions for their own careers.

''Darrell Hair is prepared to poke his nose into grubby corners of the cricket world where most of his fellow umpires refuse to go,'' Craddock wrote. ''He knows a 'tampered' ball when he sees one.'' Phil Wilkins, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald., said Hair was being unfairly portrayed as the culprit when all he did was follow the game's rules.

''Hair is a man of the strictest principle, an official absolutely true to the game, an umpire of the fairest, most unswerving practices,'' Wilkins wrote.

''He has always been a man of the strongest fibre and for that he is being castigated ferociously.''

LATER DROPPED Hair was condemned by the Asian cricket community a decade ago when he no-balled Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing and was later dropped from the ICC's panel of elite umpires.

The ICC's decision to subsequently bend the rules so Muralitharan could continue bowling without fear of being called for throwing remains a highly contentious issue in Australia.

''If there were a few more Hairs available to stand in matches around the world then cricket would be in less of a mess than it is right now,'' Patrick Smith wrote in The Australian.

''If other umpires had been as strong as Hair then bowling would not have been corrupted in the manner it is now.'' Hair now faces an uncertain future in the sport with the powerful Asian bloc united in their criticism of him but The Australian's chief cricket correspondent Malcolm Conn said the ICC would be wrong to bow to pressure and abandon him.

''Cricket is once again on the verge of disgracing itself by failing to support an umpire who has the courage to uphold the laws of the game,'' Conn wrote.

''Hair should be considered a hero for his courage, despite being subjected to death threats in the past.

''The spirit of cricket is central to the well-being of the game and Inzamam crushed that spirit by refusing to play. Only half a decade after the match-fixing scandal that tore at the very fabric of cricket, this is another low blow the game cannot afford.''

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