Umpiring controversy heads in new direction February 7, 2007

PCB responds to Hair sue threat

Cricinfo staff

Darrell Hair umpiring in the World Cricket League final in Nairobi today as the news broke © Ian Jacobs/Cricinfo Ltd
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) reacted strongly to reports that umpire Darrell Hair is planning on suing the board and the ICC for alleged racial discrimination.

The BBC Sport website revealed that Hair was planning legal action after he was banned from officiating Test matches following his role in the forfeited Oval Test between Pakistan and England in August last year.

"I can confirm that I have instructed my lawyers to issue an application in the London Central Employment Tribunal alleging racial discrimination by the ICC and PCB," said Hair at a press news conference in Nairobi.

"It is inappropriate for me to make further comment given that this matter is yet to be determined by the tribunal," added Hair, who had been umpiring the final of the ICC World Cricket League between Kenya and Scotland.

An ICC spokesman said the organisation did not believe there was merit in the claim and it would "vigorously defend the matter". It was the ICC's only comment on the issue.

Hair believes the PCB "unlawfully induced" the ICC to engage in discriminatory acts when it lobbied for his ban before a November meeting. Percy Sonn, ICC president, announced after the meeting: "It was clear from discussions that the ICC board had lost confidence in Mr Hair."

But the PCB maintains that the final decision was not taken by one member, but the cricket community as a whole and Pakistan cannot be singled out. "We haven't received anything, any notice yet anyway," Salim Altaf, PCB's director cricket operations told Cricinfo.

"But it was the ICC that said in November that we have lost confidence in Hair. It was an ICC decision based on their member body. I do not see how the question of legal action taken against Pakistan even arises out of this," he added.

Altaf said, however, that were the board to be issued any such notice, they would be prepared to battle it out in court. An ICC spokesman told Cricinfo: "We haven't received anything from Mr Hair, but even if we had we would not be able to comment as it might be prejudicial to proceedings."

However, Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the board, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that his lawyer had informed him of Hair's complaint and that he was "simply outraged" over the matter. "This is adding insult to injury. Race has nothing to do with this. Mr Hair was removed from the elite panel of umpires by the full ICC board, which has many countries, because of his poor judgement. This is the most preposterous thing I have heard."

Ashraf added: "It is crass for him to say a black West Indian was let off [whereas] he was a white man and therefore he was charged. Mr Hair was the senior umpire and he literally took over that Oval cricket match. I was present there.

"There was only one man that evening that did not want cricket to be played. [It was] a black spot on the history of cricket thanks to Mr Hair."

The Test was forfeited after Hair and Billy Doctrove awarded England a five-run penalty because they believed the ball had been tampered with during England's second innings on the fourth afternoon. Pakistan refused to come out to play after the tea break, in protest against the decision.

Eventually, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain, was cleared of ball-tampering charges but given a four-match ban for bringing the game into disrepute, by Ranjan Madugalle. Hair offered his resignation in exchange for $500,000 soon after the Test, before he was eventually removed from the ICC's elite panel of umpires.