The umpire at the centre of the ball-tampering row has a record of making decisions against players from the Indian subcontinent

Most extraordinary scenes surrounded the test match between Pakistan and England yesterday. The Australian umpire Darrell Hair declared that the Pakistanis had tampered with the ball, a grave accusation, and proceeded to award England five runs and then allowed their batsmen to choose a new ball. The Pakistanis understandably were deeply aggrieved. The umpires failed to consult the Pakistan captain prior to their decision nor offer any kind of explanation for their decision. This is not an isolated incident as far as Darrell Hair is concerned. He has a history of making decisions against not only Pakistan players, but also those from India and Sri Lanka.

His history of officiating raises the obvious question: is he prejudiced against those from the Indian sub-continent? Certainly that is a widespread view there. The controversies are as follows:

  • In his first match as an international umpire in 1992, when India played Australia, Wisden noted that the game was “marred…by controversy over lbw decisions – eight times Indians were given out, while all but two of their own appeals were rejected”.
  • Infamously, in the match between Sri Lanka and Australia in 1995, he called Muttiah Muralitharan seven times in three overs for throwing. Wisden commented: “unusually, he made his judgement from the bowler’s end, and several minutes passed before the crowd realised that Muralitharan’s elbow, rather than his foot, was at fault.”
  • In his subsequent autobiography, he described Muralitharan’s action as “diabolical” and claimed he could have no-balled him many more times.
  • In a test match last November, he gave the Pakistan captain Inzaman-ul-Haq run out, even though Inzaman was standing in his crease and was merely jumping to avoid the ball which had been thrown by the English bowler at his stumps.
  • In the same game, Hair was involved in two further controversial decisions against Pakistan players, Shadid Afridi and Salman Butt.
  • In the test match against England just prematurely concluded, Hair effectively accused the Pakistan of cheating without seeking to consult or explain, even though judgements about ‘ball tampering’ are notoriously subjective. To compound matters, he awarded England five extra runs, the first time this has ever been done.

On the basis of his history, Hair should be investigated for whether his record displays persistent discrimination against players from the Indian sub-continent.
His action in this last test match should alone be grounds for a permanent ban on his officiating in international test matches.
All allegations of racism in cricket must be dealt with on the basis of zero tolerance.