ICC plans 'vigorous' defence against Hair allegation

The International Cricket Council has resolved to defend itself against an accusation of racial discrimination being brought by Darrell Hair.

Lawyers acting for the Australian umpire on Wednesday night described the world governing body's behaviour towards their client as "unacceptable and appalling". Hair himself had already confirmed that he would begin legal proceedings against the ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The ICC said: "The ICC does not believe there is merit in this claim and will vigorously defend the matter. Given the ongoing nature of proceedings, the ICC will not be making any further comment on the issue at this stage."

Hair, formerly a member of the ICC's elite panel of umpires, was dropped last November for international matches involving full members - the 10 major Test-playing nations.

The decision came three months after he and Billy Doctrove oversaw Pakistan's forfeiture of the Test against England at the Oval last August.While the West Indian Doctrove has returned to the game, Hair has not stood in a Test match since.

Hair said that he still hoped to resume his career at the highest level. "I made it clear some time ago that I'd like to keep umpiring."