Australian umpire Darrell Hair officiated in more than 200 international matches and was quite respected all over the world. However, one incident left a blot on an otherwise great career. When Sri Lanka toured Pakistan, he stopped off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan from bowling and asked the captain to take him off the attack on account of chucking the ball.
Besides, he was involved in another huge controversy during a match between Pakistan and England. Hair charged the Pakistan players with tampering with the ball during the Test match. Owing to these episodes, Asian teams were not very happy with Hair, who celebrates his 69th birthday today.
Darrell Hair served as a clerk in New South Wales Railway. He was later transferred to Sydney to bolster his cricket career. Hair was a fast bowler and plied his trade for North Sydney. However, injury barred him from playing the game after the age of 33. He found other ways to stay connected with the game and in doing so, he passed the umpire’s examination in 1985 and entered first-class cricket as an umpire in 1988.
He started officiating in international cricket for the first time in December 1991, officiating the fourth Test between India and Australia in Adelaide. In this very match, he garnered all the headlines as he upheld 8 LBW appeals against the Indian players, and rejected a couple from the Indian bowlers. Not only this, he even made the rule of bowling just one short ball per over, the very next day – a decision that went against India.
However, the most controversial decision of his career was made when he stopped Muttiah Muralitharan from bowling on account of chucking. In 1995, Australia locked horns with Sri Lanka in Melbourne when Hair asked Muralitharan to stop bowling even as Steve Dunn of New Zealand, umpiring at the other end, had no problem with Muralitharan. He gave 7 no balls in 3 overs after which Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga took his team off the field.
Another major scandal broke in 2006 when Hair accused the Pakistan players of tampering with the ball in the Test match against England at the Oval. On the fourth day, he imposed a 5-run fine on Pakistan after which the Pakistan team did not take the field and the umpires had to award the match to England.