Harbhajan Singh has hit back at former ICC Elite umpire Darrell Hair, who recently branded the feisty Indian off-spinner as a role-model for modern-day bowlers with suspect action. Hair, never liked by sub-continental spinners, recently said Harbhajan, Muralitharan and Saqlain Mushtaq were allowed to prosper in spite of foul bowling action.
Speaking to Mid-Day, Harbhajan said: "This is too much. We didn't cross the limit, but now Hair is crossing it...He seems to have gone mad."
Slamming the famed trio, Hair told Sydney Morning Herald, "I said it in the late '90s that if something wasn't done about it you'd have a generation of chuckers on your hands. They try to emulate Harbhajan Singh, Saqlain Mushtaq and Muralitharan and that's the problem. The crackdown should have happened on those players and the ICC should have let it be known that it wasn't acceptable."
"We were always within permissible limits. Muralitharan and me were cleared by the ICC more than once. Why didn't Hair object to my bowling thereafter? Was it because he feared losing his job as an ICC umpire? We are not sons-in-law of the ICC," said Harbhajan, who was tested and cleared by the ICC more than twice between 1999 and 2005.
Hair has always been a controversial umpire. He famously no-balled Muralitharan in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne in 1995 for what he considered a suspect action. He reckons ICC's recent 'clean up' act is coming '20 years too late'. "Whatever they're doing now, they're doing 20 years too late."
"Present day bowlers are trying to bowl the doosra, which was invented by us. It doesn't necessarily mean they are bending their arms more than the permissible limit. Doosras can be bowled without bending the arms too much," Harbhajan said.
"The ICC has set a standard for bowlers and are using latest technology. Hair should stop challenging technology and better keep his mouth shut," said Harbhajan.
Since July 2014, ICC match officials have reported five spinners -- Sri Lanka's Sachitra Senanayake, Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal, New Zealand's Kane Williamson, Zimbabwe's Prosper Utseya and Bangladesh's Sohag Gazi for suspect action. All five have been banned from bowling in international cricket.
Even West Indian spinner Sunil Narine was called for 'throwing' during the Champions League Twenty20. To avoid further controversy and possible censure, the West Indies Cricket Board promptly took Narine off the current series against India. The West Indians were rather unhappy.