Inzamam 'disgusted' by Hair's return

Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was “shocked and disgusted” by controversial umpire Darrell Hair’s reinstatement, but Australia welcomed the move on Wednesday.

Inzamam clashed with Hair in the forfeited Oval Test between Pakistan and England in August 2006, which led to the Australian umpire’s ban from standing in top-level matches.

“I am terribly shocked and disgusted at the news,” Inzamam said from India, where he is featuring in the Indian Cricket League.

Hair was recalled to the elite panel of umpires on Tuesday after the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided to reinstate him in its board meeting held in Dubai.

“I would blame the Pakistan Cricket Board [PCB] for bowing down in Hair’s case and no player will now stand against injustices at international level,” Inzamam said.

“Hair was at fault but he is reinstated like a hero.”

However, Cricket Australia applauded Hair’s reinstatement and said he should be able to oversee Tests in any nation, including Pakistan.

“We’re pleased to see Darrell back,” spokesperson Peter Young said.

“Cricket Australia has always had a view that he is, in a technical sense, an excellent umpire, one of the best two or three in the world.”

He added: “It’s an ICC issue but we would support the notion that the ICC should be able to send him wherever it wants to send him in the world, whenever it wants to send him, according to its rostering of umpires.”

Hair and his West Indian colleague, Billy Doctrove, penalised Inzamam’s Pakistan five runs for alleged ball-tampering, enraging the captain who refused to take field after tea on day four.

As a result the match was awarded to England on a forfeit, the first such result in the history of the game. Inzamam was later cleared of ball-tampering but received a four-match ban for bringing the game into disrepute.

Inzamam said Hair’s reinstatement reflected double standards in the ICC, saying the world governing body, led by outgoing chief executive Malcolm Speed, had “botched” its handling of the situation.

“ICC botched up the matter in 2006 and it has botched up the matter now,” he said.

“I think Malcolm Speed has given a gift to an Australian colleague before he retires from the post of chief executive of the ICC.”

After his demotion, Hair was restricted to officiating matches involving minor nations. He began a racial discrimination claim against the ICC but dropped the case and has since been on a rehabilitation programme organised by the body.

Shahryar Khan, who was chairperson of the PCB at the time of Oval forfeit, said Hair’s reinstatement was a “slap on the face of Pakistan cricket”.

“I am angry and absolutely shocked.
ICC has taken the decision at once and it is an insult to Pakistan cricket,” said Khan, who was removed two months after the incident.

Hair had claimed he was a victim of discrimination because, while he has not been allowed to officiate in Tests since the forfeited Test, Doctrove, a black Dominican, had been able to continue his top-level career.

Since dropping his discrimination claim, Hair has acknowledged that he could have handled the decision to penalise Pakistan better, although he insisted that he had made the right call.

The row over Hair’s umpiring style and treatment has served to highlight deep-seated fault lines in cricket.

The traditional dominance of England and Australia in the sport’s corridors of power has increasingly been challenged by India—by far the world’s most valuable cricket market—and its South Asian neighbours.—Sapa-AFP

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