Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Darrell "The Flippin" Hair

Had there been a competition of the most dubious cricket umpire in our lives, Darrell Hair would be a runaway winner. When I say "runaway winner" I mean no one, not even Steve "please ... please slooooooooooooooooowly give the finger a raise" Bucknor would come close.

I agree with the most aggrieved minds who think Bucknor had been brutal recently, and the cricketers from the subcontinent were the worst victims of his reckless decisions. I know some of the wounds are still fresh in our memory, like the one in Kolkata test (coincidentally it was also Bucknor's 100th Test match) when Bucknor adjudged Tendulkar leg before leaving the modern Don of cricket in tears.

If you remember, the ball missed Tendulkar by miles and no one but Abdul Razzaq, the bowler, appealed. Yeah, Bucknor is horrible, but don't forget that the victims of poor cricketing decisions in cases as above have also been the recipient of numerous benefit of doubts. Okay, Tendulkar walks but he's an exception like Adam Gilchrist and Brian Lara while majority of the cricketers don't.

No matter how insane it sounds now, there used to be a time (if you were too young then, ask your dad) when Steve Bucknor was widely respected. People who survived through the golden age of Shakoor Rana and Khizar Hayat would vouch that the mere sight of Bucknor would bring a sigh of relief. Those days are well past us.

Back to Darrell Hair. He's the longest running comedy soap in the cricket fraternity. He's not only ahead of Bucknor in goofing up, he's also the most versatile. Yesterday, the Guardian ran a story on Darrell Hair's long and illustrious bungling history.

The late Shakoor Rana (you are not forgiven if you cannot recall Rana and Gatting working out together) at his peak would have given Hair a run for his money. But Hair beats him by sheer longevity — his vitality is Viagra-esque. Never in the history of cricket an umpire has been so consistently incompetent over a span that extends more than a decade. Unbelievable!

It boggles mind that he continues umpiring at the highest level despite a steady production of tragedy of errors that has only brought disrepute to the game and to everyone concerned. The reason why he's still around despite a stellar resume of screw-ups is because he's as competent as his ICC bosses. For all practical purposes I honestly think there should be a reality TV show where the ICC chief Malcolm Speed would interview Hair. For good fun we can also have all his past victims including Inzamam and Murali in the audience. I know I will be watching.

Once again Hair is at the focal point of a needless fiasco that anyone with an I.Q. of 23 (give or take 5) would have handled like Einstein. Since we have been fed the details to death, I am not going to bore you repeating the same sob story. We know how it began, how it ended, and what went in between, up to five decimal places.

The only poor guy who's caught in the cross fire and has nothing to do with the entire thing is Billy Doctrove, Darrell's on field partner. The guy is from the West Indies (and he might as well be suffering from Bucknor Syndrome) and he's so junior to Hair, he nodded at everything Darrell said. He's going to be remembered for just being there, at the wrong place, wrong time, although his role at best was marginally marginal. I feel bad for him.

The other aspect is that something truly novel happened. Pakistan forfeited the match — the first of its kind in the 129 years of the history of test cricket. Apparently there's not even an iota of evidence supporting Darrell's ridiculous actions — no TV camera catching a footage of ball tampering, despite 26 of them positioned to capture the moles on your right elbow and nose hairs. So I am just guessing here when I deduce Darrell must have been on crack when he hallucinated the entire episode.

Darrell Hair is the man of choice if we would like to have controversy for fun. Nobody does it better than him. And keeping with tradition he is in a mess, rather everyone but him in a mess for reasons that begin and end with him.

And, Darrell Hair is an obvious idiot — the Graham Poll of cricket — a class by himself, benchmark of all aspiring wannabes of mental disorder. If there was ever a shed of doubt, Darrell's latest cameo should put all doubts to rest — he's now officially dethroned the late Shakoor Rana as the most dubious umpire ever.

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