No surprise

Retired international umpire Darrell Hair

Retired international umpire Darrell Hair today suggested that suspicions of tainted umpires can be traced to the launch of the lucrative Indian Premier League.

His comments came as two officials, Bangladeshi Nadir Shah and Pakistani Nadeem Ghauri, were named as two of those caught in an India TV broadcast match-fixing sting.

“I was wondering how long it would take before some umpire did some stupid things,” he said.

“There have been rumours going around for ages, since the IPL started, that umpires were involved,” Hair was quoted in the Australian Associated Press.

“It all comes down to two things: opportunity and greed. If you’re the type of person and you’re given the opportunity, the greedy part of you will say, ‘Yeah, I’m in’.”

“In my whole career, there had always been word that certain umpires were on the take here or there,” said Hair.

Hair also mentioned that the umpires at the international level have been above board and his doubts are on the ones at the lower levels.

“But to be fair, all the guys I umpired with at international level, I think were pretty much above board. But I don’t doubt that there have been others around, probably in a lesser environment, trying to make a quick buck,” Hair said.

Hair, who had also served as the executive officer at the New South Wales Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association, said some of the Australians were surprised at how things were working in the IPL.

“When I was working back at Cricket NSW, some of the Australian guys had been over there (the subcontinent) coaching and they just expressed surprise at things that were going on in that IPL,” he said.

“They couldn’t nail anything – it’s a bit difficult when they are talking in a different language.

“Some games were going along perfectly well and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose, there is a flurry of wickets and all of a sudden you have lost a game that you were comfortably winning,” an amused Hair said.

Hair was also critical of the ICC and said he had little faith in the governing body.

“The ICC are completely reactive in their way of doing things. They say they don’t have the legal powers that police have got for phone taps and that sort of thing, but I don’t buy that,” he said.

“I reckon the ICC should be above any law if they want to tap phones to ensure that the game is clean,” Hair added.

The Sri Lanka Cricket Board and the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed that they have begun investigations into the allegations of umpires involved in match-fixing.

“Initial investigations are being carried out by our anti-corruption unit,” SLC chief executive Ajith Jayasekara said. He also said the SLC had not yet contacted the umpires, as it “would like to know what really is happening before we did anything.”

A PCB spokesman also said the board was looking into the situation.

“We are in contact with ICC and carrying out a detailed investigation into the matter,” he said. “For us it is just a TV report. We have sought the details involved in the matter and it is too early to say anything. The PCB maintains that we have a zero-tolerance policy towards any kind of corruption in cricket at any level.”

Shah has denied any involvement in match-fixing.

“I was taken to Delhi to sign a contract for umpiring in the Sri Lanka Premier League,” he said. “But when I saw these people making match-fixing approaches, I backed off. I didn’t do any SLPL matches, as you must know. I was never involved in match-fixing at any level.”

Shah said he cut off contact once he was approached about fixing.

“These are baseless allegations. They said their piece, nobody is listening to what I have to say. When they asked me to fix matches, I said I can’t do it,” he said. “I didn’t let anyone know because I didn’t think it would go that far. My agent told me to stop contacting them so when they called me later, I said I am not interested.”

Ghauri also said he was innocent.

“I was approached by some TV channel from India who asked me to do an interview through Skype,” Ghauri told reporters in Lahore.

“They did ask me about the fixing stuff, but I had nothing to say on the topic. They asked me to come to India and be part of their TV shows.

“I have submitted all details to the PCB about my communication with the caller in India. In fact, the company had been offering me not only TV shows appearances, but also league contracts as umpire. I asked

them, on the direction of the PCB, to write me officially about the offer and details of the contract, then we will be able to make a decision. They didn’t agree; they asked me to come to India to negotiate contract, which wasn’t possible due to the visa process, hence we had communicated through Skype. But then my Indian friend, umpire Anil Chaudary, told me that this is a fake company and have no office based in India. So I disengaged myself from communicating with them.” (Cricinfo/WG)

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