ICC cite 'lost confidence' as reason for dropping Hair

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The International Cricket Council have confirmed that the Australian Darrell Hair will not be engaged for any further inter-national matches for the remainder of his elite umpires contract, which runs until March 2008.

Hair's position had been the subject of debate since he called Pakistan for ball- tampering in the Fourth Test against England at The Oval in September, which resulted in the match being forfeited by the tourists.

The decision comes after the incident was discussed at the ICC's two-day board meeting here which concluded yesterday. Earlier, the game's world governing body confirmed they had received a letter from the Pakistan Cricket Board urging them to hold an inquiry into Hair's conduct at The Oval.

Pakistan were deemed by Hair and his colleague Billy Doctrove to have forfeited the match when they refused to return to the field after being penalised five runs for ball-tampering. A subsequent ICC hearing into charges of ball-tampering and bringing cricket into disrepute against the Pakistan captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, ruled he was guilty of the latter but not the former. Pakistan have since refused to play any matches officiated by Hair, who offered his resignation to the ICC in exchange for $500,000 (£263,000).

The ICC president, Percy Sonn, said: "The board has discussed the matter with great sincerity. They have come to the conclusion that they have lost confidence in Mr Hair. He will not be appointed to officiate at any further international games."

ICC's chief executive, Malcolm Speed, added: "I spoke to Darrell yesterday and told him about the decision. He was very disappointed. I told him Dave Richardson [ICC cricket manager] and myself will speak to him over the next couple of days when he's had a chance to think about what this means for him."