The ICC has decided that Darrell Hair has raised his last finger in international cricket, deciding that he will not officiate in any more fixtures, until his contract runs out in 2008. A vote of the full ICC board went 7-3, with only Australia, New Zealand and England voting for him to continue.
Given the lack of confidence in Hair by so much of the international cricket fraternity this decision does not come as a surprise.
Count me in as a reactionary if you like, but I think this is a dreadful day, one that continues the trend of the last two decades in undermining the authority of the umpires. One of the key points of the old game was that you accepted the authority of the umpires, regardless of whether or not you agreed with his decisions. The ICC, like it or not, have sent a pretty clear message to Hair’s colleagues here, and that message is, “Don’t look to us for help, we won’t back you up. You are on your own out there.”
The way things are continuing, you can expect to see other undermining principles like automatic third umpire decisions for leg-before appeals before too much longer, and the umpire’s main job will be to hold the bowler’s sweater.
Oh well. Roll on the Ashes!