'I was not trying to blackmail theICC,' insists Hair

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The Independent Online

Darrell Hair, who was in the witness box for the third day in succession at a hearing in London in which he is suing the International Cricket Council for racial discrimination, declared that he was "extremely disappointed" the final Test at The Oval last year had ended prematurely after the infamous ball-tampering row.

He denied that he tried to blackmail the governing body of the game into giving him a financial settlement and admitted he had received no training in cultural awareness in preparation for umpiring teams from the sub-continent.

Hair, who faced a testy cross-examination from Michael Beloff QC, for the ICC, dead-batted many of the questions put to him at the tribunal, insisting that he and Billy Doctrove, his fellow umpire at The Oval, took all their decisions in unison. The match was awarded to England after Pakistan did not take the field following the tea interval on the fourth day.

At issue yesterday was whether Hair took the initiative in accusing Pakistan of ball-tampering. He told the hearing that there was no such individual as a senior umpire and that his colleague called "time" before he symbolically lifted the bails to indicate the Test was over.

Doctrove, who is a family friend, will give evidence on his behalf this afternoon. Hair's stance is that, because Doctrove is a black West Indian, he has not been demoted as an international umpire.

Beloff put it to Hair that he was "turning the screw" by demanding a non-negotiable payment of $500,000 to stand down as an international umpire.

"I believe I was just making an offer," he responded. "I regret sending e-mails, but I was not trying to blackmail my employers."

Hair denied that he had been in a poor frame of mind at the start of the Test. "I wouldn't go into a Test or a C-grade match if I was not in the right state of mind," he said.

Initially told by Beloff that, "to borrow from a criminal vernacular, you have form," and that he had "a certain pedigree" as to the way he behaved, Hair said: "I find that insulting."

The tribunal is still awaiting Inzamam-ul-Haq, the captain of Pakistan at The Oval.

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