Darrell Hair makes return to Test cricket

Darrell Hair made a low-key return to top-level cricket on Friday, two years after presiding over the first forfeited Test.

The umpire, who was reinstated in March after a 16-month ban, officiated as England’s second Test against New Zealand started at Old Trafford.

Hair had an early decision to make, turning down England seamer Ryan Sidebottom’s leg-before-wicket appeal against New Zealand opener Jamie How in the fifth over.

The 55-year-old Australian faced minor jeers from the frustrated Old Trafford crowd over his decision to stop play due to bad light and rain, but it met no resistance from the players.

”It was an awkward day and tricky for the umpires because it was gloomy all day and drizzling for much of the morning,” England pace bowler James Anderson said. ”It did seem a bit dark.”

The first day was restricted to 54 overs and the Black Caps finished on 202-4.

”It’s pretty hard to play in the dark,” How said. ”When the umpire offers you light, it means it’s pretty bad.”

Hair was banned from the International Cricket Council’s elite umpiring panel after the forfeited Test between England and Pakistan at the Oval in August 2006.

Hair accused Pakistan of ball tampering and, when the team refused to take the field after a break, he and umpire Billy Doctrove awarded the match to England, the first forfeit in cricket’s 131-year history.

Hair was angered that he was banned while Doctrove largely escaped censure. He was reinstated to the elite panel after he completed a so-called ”rehabilitation programme” in September when he agreed to drop a claim of racial discrimination against the ICC. – Sapa-AP

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