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Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 11:45 UK

Umpire Hair ready for Test return

England v New Zealand, Second npower Test
Dates: 23-27 May Start time 1100 BST Venue: Old Trafford
Coverage: Radio Four, 5 Live Sports Extra, BBCi and BBC Sport website

Darrell Hair and Monty Panesar in the Old Trafford nets
Hair watches Monty Panesar practising in the Old Trafford nets

Controversial umpire Darrell Hair returns to Test cricket on Friday when he officiates the second Test between England and New Zealand in Manchester.

The Australian is back 21 months after accusing Inzamam-ul-Haq's Pakistan of ball-tampering at The Oval.

Hair has since been on an official ICC "rehabilitation" course and said he had learned to communicate better.

"I have picked up a few things - making sure what you say and what you want is understood by other people," he said.

Hair will stand with fellow Aussie Simon Taufel at Old Trafford, and with West Indian Steve Bucknor at the third Test in Nottingham.

Throughout his career the 55-year-old has been known for having absolute certainty in his own judgment based on a detailed understanding of cricket's complex law book.

But, he admitted in an interview with Inside Australian Cricket, that has changed.

We always felt he was a pretty good umpire, so we haven't got a problem. He's a respected umpire

England's Monty Panesar

He said: "I think the decision-making ability is still there, the only thing that could change that is a lack of confidence because I haven't done a Test match recently.

"I've always been a little bit stand-offish in that I've always preferred to let them play the game themselves and only get involved when things go overboard.

"But maybe there's a case to be made for a little bit more work in that area."

It is convenient he will return for a match featuring none of the Asian teams, who have frequently complained about his decisions.

Following Hair's award of five penalty runs to England for alleged ball-tampering by Pakistan in the third Test in August 2006, the tourists refused to take the field after tea on the fourth day.

Simon Taufel and Darrell Hair at an Old Trafford nets session
Simon Taufel and Darrell Hair at an Old Trafford nets session

It was eventually announced Pakistan had become the first team in history to forfeit a Test match.

Attention focused on Hair and soon afterwards Pakistan were calling for him to be barred from officiating in any of their matches.

Much earlier in his career, in 1995-96, he no-balled Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for 'throwing' during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

Hair was routinely ranked as one of the world's leading umpires during the course of a career which has so far spanned 76 Tests and 135 one-day internationals.

However, he was dropped soon after the Oval incident as a Test match official by the ICC after it revealed he had offered to resign in return for a payment of 250,000.

Another twist in the saga came in October 2007 when Hair took the ICC to an employment tribunal in London alleging racial discrimination.

He argued his treatment had been unfair because fellow umpire Billy Doctrove, who bore equal responsibility for the Oval decision, was allowed to go on umpiring in Tests while he was barred.

But he dropped the action midway through the hearing in the hope it would lead to his Test recall.

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew

However, both teams at Old Trafford have full faith in Hair's judgement and ability.

England's Monty Panesar said: "We always felt he was a pretty good umpire, so we haven't got a problem.

"He's a respected umpire and it's good to see someone like him coming back into international cricket, but it's not much of a talking point for us."

And Black Caps coach John Bracewell added: "I don't think the players will worry about it. We as a team have never had an issue with Darrell."

Hair is keen to remain an umpire for the foreseeable future.

But he added: "If it doesn't work and I'm not up to it, and let's face it every year you get older and your hearing and eyesight get worse, then maybe a coaching or mentoring role is a preferred option."

see also
Tremlett added to England squad
19 May 08 |  England

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