England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval August 22, 2006

India board to side with ICC over Hair

Cricinfo staff

The BCCI have appeared as an unlikely saviour of Darrell Hair's career when their secretary, Niranjan Shah, suggested India would support the ICC in the ongoing row over ball-tampering accusations.

Though India and Pakistan have had a turbulent history on the pitch, it had been expected that India would support their neighbours in their stance against Hair and refuse to participate in matches in which he officiates.

"We would never say no to any umpire that the ICC supported," Shah told the Sydney Morning Herald. "If the ICC is happy with [Hair], then we are happy. Let us see a report first, and if Mr Hair has made a mistake, then we will see what happens. But it is up to the ICC to take action."

Were India to side with the ICC and not Pakistan, a potentially disastrous situation would be avoided. Given Hair's history - he has courted controversy with Pakistan in the past, as well as Sri Lanka - it is unlikely he will ever umpire games involving either of those two countries. And if India were to be added to that list, his role as an elite international umpire would be reduced to officiating in only half the international sides. Hair also cannot stand in matches involving Australia, his birthplace.

"If the Asian bloc gangs up on him and says, 'We don't want him appointed in our games', there might be trouble," Dick French, a former umpire and Hair's mentor, told AAP. "He can't umpire Australia as a neutral, so he can't then just umpire South Africa, West Indies and England for the rest of his career. So that's a tough one for the authorities."

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