'Nothing sinister' about withdrawal from Champions Trophy October 5, 2006

Speed backs Hair to stand again

Cricinfo staff

Malcolm Speed: '[Hair's] decision-making marks him out as one of the ICC's top officials' © Getty Images
Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, has backed Darrell Hair in the aftermath of the Oval Code of Conduct hearing and said that he wants him to stand again in international matches.

In an exclusive column for Cricinfo, Speed emphasised that Hair remained a member of the ICC's Elite panel. "His decision-making marks him out as one of the ICC's top officials and I very much hope he will stand again at the highest level. And in that regard it was pleasing to see comments from both Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shaharyar Khan last weekend expressing similar sentiments."

Speed also emphasised that there was "nothing sinister" about the decision to withdraw Hair from the Champions Trophy. "Prior to the hearing we received a letter from the BCCI president Sharad Pawar raising his concerns about a potential negative reaction from some followers of the game there and the security implications this may have.

"We listened to this view and sought independent security advice which highlighted a heightened risk and the need for 24 hour protection. In the circumstances we decided it was in the best interests of Darrell and the tournament not to send him to the event." The BCCI, however, has denied that it raised specific security issues with the ICC.

Speed also admitted that ideally the hearing into events at The Oval should have happened sooner but "for a variety of reasons that was not possible this time, not least because the issue confronting everyone involved the real world, was unprecedented and provoked high emotion." He added: "Cricket must learn from this experience.

"Far from undermining the authority of the umpires, as some have claimed, the hearing maintained it. By banning Inzamam-ul-Haq for four matches, Ranjan [Madugalle] confirmed players cannot take the Law into their own hands, no matter how wronged they feel. The fact the Pakistan Cricket Board have not appealed the ban is a clear indication it accepts that."

But he also acknowledged that the issue of ball tampering needed "careful consideration" by both the MCC, who are responsible for the Laws, and the ICC's own cricket committee.