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WHIMPRESS ON 'THE CONTROVERSY' - Part 2
Hair kept most of his opinions for his book, Decision Maker, released
in 1998. Yet it remains valuable because it is the only detailed
account by a no-ball umpire explaining his actions. He discusses,
for example, watching Muralidaran in the Singer Cup in Sharjah and
describes his appointment to a limited-over international between
Sri Lanka and Australia in Sydney on 21 December 1995 with 'some
misgivings'. Hair states that Muralidaran's action was more 'pronounced'
in his ten overs than it had been in Sharjah, admits that he should
have called the bowler when his action became 'diabolical', but
did not do so because he preferred the matter to be 'resolved behind
the scenes'. Hair states that he had a long discussion with ICC
referee Dowling who made it clear he would not intervene. Hair stresses
that Dowling left him with the impression that he would not only
act alone on the field but would have to bear any moral authority
The book is curious for both some of its omissions as well as its
admissions. Apart from saying that 'the best place to view most
suspect actions was from behind the bowler', Hair makes no reference
to the fact that such an action was uncommon. Indeed, other than
Andrew Barlow's persistent calling of Eddie Gilbert in 1931 and
Colin Egar's two calls against Brian Quigley in 1960, it was the
only time it had been done in first-class cricket in Australia in
On the admissions' side Hair writes that Ranatunga's decision to
switch Muralidaran to the other end was 'extraordinary and inflammatory'
as he was putting enormous pressure on Steve Dunne but he seems
to be suffering a peculiar form of blindness here. Hair concluded
that Ranatunga should have followed convention by removing his bowler
from the attack and cited Richie Benaud's example with Meckiff in
Brisbane in 1963. The problem is that Hair's knowledge of cricket
history is incomplete because in four of the major cases of multiple
no-balling in Australia-Marsh by Crockett (1901), Pitcher by Crockett
(1911), Halcombe by Buttsworth (1930), and Gilbert by Barlow (1931),
the captains had switched their bowlers to the other end at least
during the match. In the case of Halcombe by Barlow (1930) the captain
had not done so. The trouble with Hair's argument is that it was
he who was breaking convention and perhaps making it difficult for
the two umpires to work as a team.
By calling Muralidaran from the bowlers' end Hair overrode what
is normally regarded as the authority of the square leg umpire in
adjudicating on throwing. Whatever unenviable position Hair had
left himself in he had certainly placed umpire Dunne in one as well.
Dunne would have had to break convention to support his partner.
It is not surprising that he did not do so.
Hair was described by Age reporter Martin Blake as one of the game's
'tough men' but there is also little doubt that the incident, and
especially his recollection of it in his book, reveals him as something
of a maverick. 'I did not call him from square leg (Hair states)
as I firmly believed the best place to view most suspect actions
was from behind the bowler.' He then added a little later:
After the tea break I informed the acting captain, Aravinda
de Silva, that if Muralidharan [sic] bowled again from either end,
I would not hesitate to no ball him. This was by no means the ideal
way to finalise the matter but I felt the situation was now farcical
as Muralidharan had continued to deliver the ball with the same
action that I clearly considered to be very much illegal.
Hair admits he was alone in his views; however, he would have been
even more of a maverick if he had made calls from square leg on
the second day. Such an action would have removed his fellow umpire's
authority entirely. Hair claims that he had little care for how
the press reported the throwing incident but then spends several
pages of his book attempting to rebut opinions that disagree with
his own. In describing as 'most laughable' the article regarding
the surgeon's report on Muralidaran's bent elbow he surely condemns
himself: 'It was never an issue for me that his arm could not be
fully straightened as partial straightening is all that is necessary
to constitute a throw.' When is straight straight? It also contradicts
his own stated position about bent arm bowling being legitimate.
At the end of the match the Sri Lankans requested from the ICC
permission to confer with Hair in order to find out exactly how
to remedy the problem with their bowler. Despite the game's controlling
body agreeing to it, the Australian Cricket Board vetoed it on the
grounds that it might lead to umpires being quizzed by teams after
every game. In the circumstances the ACB's attitude was odd and
meant that the throwing controversy would continue into the World
Series Cup during the coming week. The Sri Lankans were entitled
to an explanation and would continue playing their bowler in matches
not umpired by Hair and putting other umpires on notice to either
support or reject Hair's judgement.
The immediate aftermath was that in the Sri Lanka-West Indies limited
over international match in Hobart on 3 January 1996 Muralidaran
was selected and bowled ten overs and took two wickets in a match
his team lost by 70 runs. His action was passed by umpires Terry
Prue and Steve Davis but the following game two days later would
see the throwing saga continue.
Sri Lanka v West Indies (ODI), 5 January 1996
The next calls against Muralidaran for throwing represented a
case of unfinished business. The match was the first ever floodlit
limited over international at the Brisbane Cricket Ground and was
the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first of all one-day internationals.
It would be historic for other reasons.
If any throwing calls were going to be made it was expected that
the man to make them would be Tony McQuillan whose match report
from Sri Lanka's opening first-class match of the tour against Queensland
at Mackay put the focus on Muralidaran. However, it was his partner,
Ross Emerson, officiating in his first international match who made
the damning calls. Emerson no-balled Muralidaran three times in
his first over, twice in his second and twice in his third. It was
an identical tally to that called by Hair on Boxing Day and (like
Hair) Emerson made his calls from the bowler's end while his partner
stood silent. The main difference was that several no-balls were
for leg-breaks instead of the bowler's normal off-breaks.
In an action which anticipated the umpire's decision, Sri Lankan
coach Whatmore set up a slow motion camera on the mid-wicket boundary
as Muralidaran took up the attack. Although large sections of the
crowd booed loudly each time Muralidaran was called the decision
to continue bowling him was viewed as an act of defiance. The bowler's
active involvement ended in the tour at that point but the prediction
that his international career lay in tatters proved inaccurate.
Two months later Sri Lanka won the 1996 World Cup and Muralidaran
with 7 wickets at 30.85 was a key player for his side.
Throwing fell off the agenda in Australian cricket with the exception
of the calls against Queensland spinner Geoff Foley by Ross Emerson
in the 1997-98 season, only to be revived by Emerson again against
Muralidaran when the Sri Lankans next toured.
Right arm off-spin
(b. 11 October 1967)
Geoffrey Ian Foley began his first-class career as an opening
batsman by scoring 155 on debut but took nine years to raise
his second century. By then he had reinvented himself as a
middle-order batsman and off-spinner. In 65 matches he has
scored 2846 runs at 30.60 and taken 44 wickets at 54.70. Foley's
flat deliveries were called twice during the 1997-98 season,
both times by umpire Ross Emerson.
Queensland v Victoria, 1 November 1997
Emerson called Foley once for throwing from the bowler's
end on the second day of the match. The faster ball was delivered
in Foley's fourth over and he bowled a further seven overs
from the same end in the innings in which he took 2 for 38
Queensland v Tasmania, 14 February 1998
Umpire Emerson called the sixth ball of Foley's fourth over
a throw and immediately spoke to Queensland captain Ian Healy
who did not bowl Foley again. Healy criticised Emerson's decision
to take his bowler out of the attack, saying he would have
called every ball. Healy added that he thought the Australian
Cricket Board had cleared Foley and would have preferred to
know if there were any problems with his bowler rather than
have him crucified in a match.
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