Reports claim Hair cut from elite panel of match officials

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The Independent Online

The International Cricket Council was last night refusing to comment on reports emanating from India that Darrell Hair has been removed from its elite umpires panel.

"Darrell Hair is unlikely to officiate in future international matches," the NDTV 24x7 Indian television channel quoted unnamed sources as saying yesterday.

Earlier this week, the ICC confirmed it had received a letter from the Pakistan Cricket Board urging it to hold an inquiry into Hair's conduct during this year's Oval Test against England. The ICC planned to discuss the aborted Test - the first in the history of cricket to be forfeited - at its board meeting.

But the meeting continues today in Mumbai and the ICC spokesman said nothing would be discussed until it has reached its conclusion. "The ICC's annual board meeting is a two-day affair and the second day of that meeting is tomorrow," a spokesman said.

"Afterwards the ICC president, Percy Sonn, and the chief executive, Malcolm Speed, will address the issues to have come up in that meeting."

This meeting is the ICC's first opportunity to discuss the matter following the cancellation last month of a hastily arranged emergency meeting to do so in the aftermath of the Oval Test, which was awarded to England and sparked uproar in Pakistan.

Pakistan were deemed by Hair and his colleague Billy Doctrove to have forfeited the match when they refused to return to the field following a break for bad light after being penalised five runs for ball-tampering. When they announced they were willing to return to action having made their point, Hair said it was too late because the Test had been awarded to England and the umpires refused to take the field.

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 controversially offered his resignation to the ICC in exchange for $500,000 (£263,000) in the wake of the unfinished Test match.

The ICC said Hair would not officiate in the Champions Trophy, which concludes in India tomorrow when the West Indies take on Australia in the final, for "safety and security" reasons. This was despite the fact that the Indian authorities guaranteed that the umpires would be well protected for the duration of the event.