Darrell Hair tribunal, 1st day October 1, 2007

Asian bloc forced ICC's hand claims Hair QC

Cricinfo staff

Darrell Hair arrives at the London Central Employment Tribunal for the first day's play © Getty Images
Robert Griffiths QC, Darrell Hair's barrister, has told a tribunal in London that the ICC bowed to pressure from a bloc of Asian countries when it, in effect, sacked his client in the aftermath of the abandonment of the Oval Test last year.

Speaking on the first day of Hair's claim at the London Central Employment Tribunal that he suffered racial discrimination at the hands of the ICC, Griffiths maintained that the Indian and Pakistan boards heavily influenced the ICC.

"Darrell Hair's case is that he was treated the way he was because the ICC bowed to the racially discriminatory pressure that was brought to bear on it by the Asian bloc and ICC board member supporters," Griffiths said. "The Asian bloc is dominant in cricket sometimes it uses that dominance inappropriately. Everyone knows it, but most are afraid to say so."

Griffith asked why the ICC's three-man panel who looked into Hair's future included Pakistan board chairman Nasim Ashraf - who had earlier called for sanctions against Hair - Sir John Anderson, the New Zealand board chairman who supported action against Hair, and Zimbabwe Cricket president Peter Chingoka. "As the world knows only too well, Zimbabwe Cricket has not historically selected teams on merit," he said. "It has selected its players on the basis of their race and colour.

"An environment has been created for him that is any or all of intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive. His feelings have been most significantly injured. He has suffered both personally and financially."

He was the author of his own misfortune. In cricketing terms, Mr Hair ran himself out

Michael Beloff QC

Opening for the defence, Michael Beloff QC denied the allegations. "[Hair] was not a victim of race discrimination," he said. "He was the author of his own misfortune. In cricketing terms, Mr Hair ran himself out.

"His case on the question of discrimination has been changeable, evasive and, to a degree, reckless. He was immeasurably the more experienced and senior of the two umpires and in respect of every action during the fourth Test which has excited adverse comment, Mr Hair took the initiative and Mr [Billy] Doctrove's role was only to agree.

"Critically, it was Mr Hair who baled out of the crucial meeting when an attempt was made by all interested parties to broker a restart to the match," Beloff continued. "The fact that a majority of those who supported the so-called resolution were Black or Asian does not of itself establish or even give rise to the inference that they took their decision on grounds of Mr Hair's race as distinct from his behaviour."

When he took the stand after lunch Hair accused Anderson of brokering a secret deal to end his career during a private lunch during an ICC meeting. That conversation was not previously disclosed and Hair's lawyers maintain that crucial discussions were left out of official transcripts in what was described as a "Watergate-style cover-up".

Hair explained why he accused Pakistan of ball-tampering, claiming that he felt the rough state of the ball "had been accelerated by human intervention". He stressed he had taken joint decisions throughout the Test with Doctrove. "I was surprised by how much roughing up of the ball there had been," Hair told the tribunal. "There were quite a few scratch marks on it."

He said that at the conclusion of the game "Doctrove called time and I removed the bails at my end," indicating the decision was taken in unison. He also said that "the abuse I received from Pakistan players continued unchecked by the ICC".

Arriving at the hearing, Ray Mali, the ICC president, told reporters: "We are here today because we are an organisation that believes in fairness, justice and equality. We have come here to prove that we have been fair throughout this process. We believe racism was never an issue in this matter."