Australians unite to condemn Hair ban

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Australians have responded with disbelief and anger to the International Cricket Council's decision to ban Darrell Hair from umpiring international matches, labelling it "tragic" and "disgusting". Players, umpires, officials and the media were united in their condemnation of world cricket's ruling body after Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh joined forces to vote him off the elite panel.

The Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, speaking to reporters in India after being named the ICC's best player of the year, was disappointed by the decision, saying Hair was popular among players for his tough but fair approach. "I'm surprised and disappointed for him," Ponting said.

"It's disgusting," the former Australian Test captain Neil Harvey said. "He's probably the best around but it shows you the influence of the Asian nations."

Hair's sacking came after Pakistan lodged a complaint over his role in the forfeited Test against England. Another former Australia Test captain, Bob Simpson, said Hair had been punished for taking a stand on issues which other umpires were unwilling to address. "It's just a tragedy," he said.