Pakistan refuse to back down on Hair stance
If the ICC were hoping Pakistan's problems with Darrell Hair may quietly slip away with a new chairman in place, they might want to think again. Dr Nasim Ashraf, who replaced Shaharyar Khan as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman less than two weeks ago, told reporters in Karachi unequivocally that Pakistan does not want Hair officiating in their matches.
"We are in the process of writing a very comprehensive and strong letter to the ICC where we will chronologically list all our grievances with Hair," he stated. "The letter is being drafted now and our basic minimum requirement is that Hair does not stand in matches involving Pakistan."
Hair was the more controversial of the two umpires - Billy Doctrove being the second - who stood in the now-infamous forfeited Oval Test in August this year. The chain of events that led to that result was sparked by the umpires accusing Pakistan of ball-tampering, changing the ball and awarding England five penalty runs. Pakistan refused to come out to play after tea and when they did eventually, the umpires had already forfeited the Test and were refusing to change their minds.
Ashraf, who was involved in frantic negotiations during the protest, was adamant, however, that Hair was solely to blame. "There are no two ways about it - the central villain of that whole piece was Darrell Hair," he said. "What sort of justice is this whereby you accuse, charge and give a verdict all within minutes? You are the judge, jury and jailer - it is a bad rule and we will take it up with the ICC."
The Pakistan board is now in a financial quandary, facing claims of compensation from the English Cricket Board (ECB), for lost earnings after the forfeit of £800,000. And Ashraf acknowledged that Inzamam-ul-Haq's refusal to go on to the field after tea had complicated the issue. "Not to go on the field was a mistake," he said. "It was the captain's decision and it has led to financial complications. Clearly the team management needs to be strengthened to avoid situations like this again."
The ECB has given Pakistan until the end of the month to settle the claim, though the PCB have argued that the ICC is at fault, as it was their employees, the umpires, who eventually refused to carry on playing.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo