Cricket: Hair stands down to avoid controversy

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DARRELL HAIR, the Australian umpire, has agreed not to officiate in any international matches involving Sri Lanka this season, averting fears of a dispute between the Australian and Sri Lankan cricket boards.

Denis Rogers, the chairman of the Australian Cricket Board said yesterday that Hair no longer wanted to be considered for matches involving Sri Lanka during next year's limited-overs series between Australia, Sri Lanka and England.

The issue had threatened to overshadow the series after Sri Lankan authorities complained at Hair's criticism of their off-spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan. In a recently published book Hair described Muralitharan's bowling action as "diabolical" and said he would have no hestitation no-balling him in the future.

The Sri Lankans called on the ACB to stand Hair down from their matches, but the ACB passed the matter on to the International Cricket Council, which is yet to make a decision. Hair said he made his decision to stand down after discussing the issue with other umpires.