The Darrell Hair saga just keeps on rolling on.
Just days after a leaked ICC report showed that the international cricketing body had appraised Hair as the second best umpire in the world shortly before his controversial sacking, it has been revealed that readers of The Wisden Cricketer have voted Hair as the Umpire of the Season in the magazine’s annual poll.
Hair attracted 34 per cent of the votes in the readers’ poll, a result which is sure to further embarrass the ICC after its sacking of the controversial figure earlier this month.
“I suppose it is a bit of a shock,” Hair told the magazine. “But if free-thinking people want to vote that way and they do believe I’ve done the job as well as anybody or even better, I can accept that fact. It’s a great vote of confidence.”
Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said the poll reflected the body’s own thoughts on the standing Hair has within this country’s corridors of cricket power.
“He is highly regarded, and Australian cricket regards him as one of the best,” Young said. “We are not surprised to see that reflected in a poll such as this.”
But what do the folk in Hair’s hometown of Mudgee think of his ex-communication from international cricket’s elite panel of umpires? Surely they would be rejoicing in anything that vindicates one of their own? Well, not quite.
“He should have been sacked 15 years ago – that’s my view,” Mudgee Guardian sports editor Don Mahoney told Crikey. “I applaud the ICC for finally getting rid of him.
“I saw him give Craig McDermott out off his helmet in the Adelaide Test that the West Indies won by one run. Last wicket out and it came off his hat!
“I was in the Members, and as he walked up the aisle he got heckled and he turned around and argued with them. That’s not the behaviour of an umpire.”
Not quite the vote of confidence we were expecting.
“I come from a cricketing background,” Mahoney continued. “I can remember the great umpires – Max O’Connell, Col Egar, and more recently Daryl Harper – I never ever saw them answer back.
“You never see a rugby league umpire turn around and answer the crowd when he gets heckled. Not the good ones, anyway!”