| Darrell Hair removes the bails at The Oval on Sunday. (AFP)
London, Aug. 24: Darrell Hair’s showdown with Inzamam-ul Haq has been postponed but the controversial Australian umpire stands to make a lot of money by updating his autobiography, publishers said.
Whatever the outcome of the standoff, Hair could end up laughing all the way to the bank, experts in cricket books said.
Publishers are expecting Hair to update his autobiography, Decision Maker: An Umpire’s Story, which was published in 1998 by Random House Australia.
Normally, books by umpires attract only a small niche market — the only exception to that in recent years has been Dickie Bird’s autobiography.
“And Darrell Hair is no Dickie Bird,” said Roddy Bloomfield of Hodder and Stoughton that has brought out Andrew Flintoff’s autobiography.
However, “shares in Hair” have shot up since Sunday since he triggered the biggest crisis cricket has witnessed in decades by ruling that Pakistan had been “guilty of ball tampering”.
If he loses at the hearing — and Inzamam will be represented by a top British sports lawyer, Mark Gay of DLA Piper — Hair could project himself as the umpire who tried to do the right thing and failed.
And if he wins, which seems more likely, he could project himself as the umpire who successfully resisted political pressure on him to reverse his decision.
The chances are Hair will hire a sports writer to provide suitably provocative expression to his thoughts — why he decided that the ball had been tampered with and why he decided instantly to take firm action and then to stand by his action.
While many in Pakistan are depicting Hair as a “racist” or even a “mini-Hitler”, he is being hailed in Australia as a “hero”. Either way, sales of an updated version of Decision Maker seem virtually guaranteed.
An indication of the upsurge of interest in the hero/villain was provided to The Telegraph by Colin Pearson, managing director of Acumen Books, a Stoke-on-Trent-based publishing company which holds the sole rights to distribute Hair’s autobiography in the UK.
Pearson, who is proud that his company is the only one in the world to concentrate on books on cricket umpires and scorers, said: “Since Darrell Hair’s book was published in 1998, I had sold about 20 copies. I have had a lot of queries since Sunday and the last six copies I had on the shelf have all gone — for £19.99. When the book came out, it was priced at about £9.99. I am trying to source more copies from the second hand market.”
This is because the original Australian edition is out of print.
If Hair gets a good enough ghost writer, he could easily get anything between £50,000 and £100,000 from serialisation. The more he is abused, ironically, the higher will be the fee he will be able to command, said sources in the publishing industry.
This will not be the first time that Hair has appeared before the ICC. In February 1999, he was hauled up for writing Decision Maker, in which he defended his decision to no ball Sri Lanka’s legendary Muttiah Muralitharan seven times in three overs for alleged chucking.
Hair faced four charges of breaching clause 8 of the ICC’s code of conduct and behaving in a way that was detrimental to the game. Although found guilty on two charges by the Australian Cricket Board’s code of commissioner, Judge Lewis, a county court judge, Hair got off on a technicality, because the ICC rules had no provision for punishing umpires.
If Hair is unable to stand in future matches involving Pakistan and other countries, including Sri Lanka, which have objected to him, he could more than make up for the loss of work or being forced to take early retirement by hitting back at Pakistan and his detractors through his book.
Like many before him, he may find that few things sell better than notoriety.