Outspoken Australian umpire Darrell Hair on Monday labelled ICC chief Haroon Lorgat a bully for telling officials caught in the Lahore attack to be “more rational” about their experience.
Australian umpires Simon Taufel and Steve Davis have complained that Pakistan failed to protect them when gunmen opened fire as they travelled behind the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore on February 2.
They have recounted feeling deserted by the security escort as they lay stranded on the floor of their van with their driver shot dead and a colleague wounded.
But International Cricket Council (ICC) Chief Executive Lorgat,the umpires’ boss,suggested on Sunday that they were overwrought and needed to reflect on events calmly.
“I am mindful of the experience they have gone through and I think it is a difficult time for them,” Lorgat told reporters in Sydney.
“I guess if you or I had gone through something we might have reacted in a similar fashion and I think we must just understand the context and we must just allow them to settle down and be more rational in their assessment of what has transpired.”
Hair reacted furiously in his capacity as head of the New South Wales Umpires and Scorers Association,an organisation which counts Taufel as a life member.
Hair said both Taufel and Davis had appeared measured and rational when commenting on the attack,which left eight Pakistanis dead and seven Sri Lankan players and an assistant coach wounded.
“No one could possibly comprehend the frightening and life threatening nature of the predicament they found themselves in,” Hair said.
“For Mr Lorgat to blandly ask them to be ‘more rational’ I think (smacks of) bullying and they are embarrassed that the full truth of the situation came out into the open.”
He suggested Lorgat go on a management course to help him understand his role as head of the ICC and his organisation’s duty of care to players and officials,which it had “clearly failed to provide on this occasion”.
“I wonder if Mr Lorgat would be making his shallow and insincere comments if it had been he trapped in a hail of bullets and felt abandoned by the very security forces that were supposed to protect them,” Hair said. Hair described Lorgat’s comment that the umpires were going through a difficult time as “the biggest understatement of all time” and questioned the ICC chief’s assertion that “cricket must go on in Pakistan”.
“Does someone have to die before ICC even remotely begins to understand the reality of the matter?” Hair said.
“It is one thing to provide security and protection but another to actually be secure and protected. Quite simply,ICC and the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) totally failed the Sri Lankan players and the umpires,full stop.”
Hair is no stranger to run-ins with the ICC. The organisation dumped him from its elite umpiring panel for a spell following an abandoned match between England and Pakistan at The Oval in 2006 which ended with the tourists conceding the first Test forfeit in the game’s history.