Hair to make international comeback at Old Trafford

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The Independent Online

Darrell Hair will resume his career as an international umpire on 23 May when he officiates in the second Test between England and New Zealand, at Old Trafford. The International Cricket Council removed Hair from matches involving full-member nations after he wrongly accused Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, of ball tampering at The Oval in 2006.

Hair took the ICC to court in October 2007, claiming racial discrimination, only to withdraw the claim seven days in to the tribunal. He then went on a six-month rehabilitation course before being reinstated by the ICC in March.

Hair was one of the first officials to call Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing and Asian teams have accused him of bias against them. His contract with the ICC runs until March 2009. Pakistan have stated that they do not want him to stand in any of their matches.

Harbhajan Singh has been banned from the rest of the Indian Premier League following an altercation with Sri Sreesanth, his India team-mate. The off-spinner was found guilty of slapping Sreesanth at the end of Mumbai Indians' match against Kings XI Punjab on Friday.

Harbhajan offered an apology at the end of his hearing and the pair embraced. The spinner will not appeal against his ban, and he will only be paid for the two games he played. He stands to lose earnings of around $500,000 (£251,000)

The IPL and the effects it could have on English cricket will be the hottest topic of discussion at Lord's today when officials of the 18 first-class counties gather for the England and Wales Cricket Board's Annual General Meeting. The accounts of the 2007-08 season will be signed off but the chief executives and chairmen will be more interested in how the ECB react to what is taking place in India.

Very little is likely to change before 2010. The ECB's broadcasting deal with Sky does not finish until the end of the 2009 season, in which England will host the Twenty20 World Cup and play Australia in the Ashes.

Twenty20 cricket is sure to play a larger part in the county season, however. Whether an English Premier League is played by city-based franchises, regional sides or by the counties plus a few extra teams is under discussion.