Was just emailed this by one of my umpiring mentors...Looks like it will be an interesting summer...What do you guys think??
Hair chucked straight in
By Robert Craddock
October 31, 2002
AUSTRALIA's Darrell Hair will this summer umpire controversial spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for the first time since they were involved in the infamous Boxing Day chucking affair seven years ago.
Hair has been assigned to Sri Lanka's first two matches of their Australian tour, against Australia A on December 14 and England on December 17, both in Brisbane.
The appointments are yet to be made public but are expected to be confirmed within the next few days.
Since he no-balled Muralitharan seven times in the Boxing Day Test, Hair has not stood in any match involving Sri Lanka.
World officials have tried to avoid inflaming the issue by keeping Hair away from the bowler whose action he once described as 'diabolical'.
When Sri Lanka last toured four years ago Hair ruled himself out of consideration for their games under pressure after criticising Muralitharan's action in his autobiography.
Though initiating the early tour showdown appears provocative, the move has been made to short circuit the drama.
The chances of Muralitharan being no-balled by Hair are minimal.
Hair, and all Australian umpires, will be encouraged not to take on-field action against any bowler who has a suspect action but to report them to the match referee.
If the match referee deems there to be a problem he will report it to the International Cricket Council and the nine-man panel which scrutinises suspect actions will review it.
By giving Hair the first two matches of the Sri Lankan tour, the ACB is hopeful of avoiding weeks of painstaking 'will he or won't he be called?' build-up.
The easy option would have been to keep the two apart but that would have been an insult to Hair and condemned his decisions of seven years ago which many players and seasoned judges felt were justified.
As one of Australia's top umpires, the ACB feels he deserves the chance to be considered for any match.
There were reports out of London three months ago that Muralitharan had reservations about touring Australia but Sri Lanka are confident he will, particularly as the tour is a warm-up for February's World Cup in South Africa.
Muralitharan has become one of the most successful and talked-about bowlers in cricket history.
At age 30 he has 430 Test wickets at an average of 23.33 and Shane Warne has predicted he will not simply surpass Courtney Walsh's world record of 519 but will reach 1000 before he fades from international cricket.
Only Walsh, Warne (477) and India's Kapil Dev (434) have more Test wickets than Muralitharan.
Despite the fact the only umpires to no-ball the Sri Lankan are Australian, the bona fides of his action remain hotly debated.
Some observers such as former Australian off-spinner Bruce Yardley, believes he is a gifted genius with a legal action.
Others, such as former Test umpire Col Egar, said the prospect of Murali becoming the world record holder is an insult to cricket because be his action is blatantly illegal.
Indian cricketing legend Bishen Bedi recently described Muralitharan as having the action of a javelin thrower.
Under the laws of cricket, a bowler is not allowed to straighten his arm in delivering the ball.
Muralitharan's action has been cleared by the ICC's throwing panel which includes experienced judges such as West Indian great Michael Holding.
Many umpires, however, are known to have lingering reservations but simply cannot bring themselves to take action because of the stress it will cause to their lives.
Ross Emerson, another Australian umpire who no-balled Muralitharan on Sri Lanka's last Australian tour four years ago, is no longer part of Australia's international panel.