London, Aug. 26: The Australian Darrell Hair was today being hunted like a common criminal following the shocking disclosure yesterday that he wanted $500,000 — and possibly more — from the International Cricket Council as the price for his going quietly.
He has gone to ground and has not been seen even at his home in Lincoln, where his English wife, Amanda, may see rather more of him in future than she might have anticipated. Nor has he been spotted in the local pub, The Strugglers, which he visits once a month.
Hair’s next engagement is a Derbyshire II versus Gloucestershire II on Wednesday in Chesterfield, which may attract rather more journalists than spectators.
Whether he will stand again in a Test match is open to question for the 53-year-old Australian is being treated as the proverbial leper even by fellow Australians.
Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell believes it would be impossible for Hair to umpire another Test match.
The disclosure of Hair’s demand for a giant payout almost certainly signals the end to his umpiring career, according to Chappell.
“His position was going to be difficult because they were obviously talking about the cost of security for Darrell Hair, which was probably going to make it very difficult for him to umpire on the sub-continent,” he said. “So that would have made his position difficult; now I just think it’s untenable.”
This is a widely held opinion shared by, among others, the much respected English umpire, Dickie Bird.
“There have been controversies going back through the history of cricket and the closest would be Bodyline in 1933 but never anything like this,” he observed. “It is looking like the charges (against Pakistan) are going to be dropped. It is looking in favour of Pakistan now.”
The England Cricket Board was today quick to announce that Pakistan had agreed to continue with the rest of the tour and play five one-dayers. The Pakistani players, who arrived in Bristol yesterday, will take the field on Monday in a 20-20 game against England.
Meanwhile some, like former England captain Michael Atherton, want charges brought against Hair.
“It seems extraordinary when you consider that Inzamam-ul-Haq has been charged on two counts — one of ball-tampering, for which nobody can find any evidence, and secondly, for bringing the game into disrepute on the back of the first charge,” said Atherton. “So poor old Inzy finds himself under two charges, but Darrell Hair, after these extraordinary letters, finds himself under no charge whatsoever. But now on the back of this... letter written by Darrell Hair, Darrell Hair is the bad guy.”
Hair is hoping to “move on” with his umpiring career but cricket administrators say it is difficult to see how and where he will do so.
Atherton said: “It is hard to see how Darrell Hair can umpire at any future international match.”