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March 19, 2008
Darrell Hair's reinstatement to Tests and ODIs is being viewed with understandable caution by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the PCB, said Pakistan had made its position on the matter clear at the ICC board meeting; he also indicated that Hair might not stand in Pakistan matches over the next year, until his contract with the ICC ends.
"The PCB's position, views and opinions were clearly reiterated at the meeting with regard to this issue," Ashraf told Cricinfo.
Ashraf's countrymen were more forcible in their reactions. Inzamam-ul-Haq, who was banned for four matches for refusing to take his side back on to the field during the Oval Test in August 2006 after Hair accused them of ball-tampering, said he was "shocked and disgusted" by the news.
"I would blame the Pakistan board for bowing down in Hair's case and no player will now stand against injustices at the international level," Inzamam said. "Hair was at fault but he is reinstated like a hero. The PCB needs to learn a lesson from the Indian board. See how they backed their players in Australia recently on contentious issues."
Pakistan did not return to the field after tea on day four at The Oval, in protest against Hair's decision to dock them five penalty runs for ball-tampering. Hair subsequently declared the match forfeited by Pakistan, handing the win to England. It was the first time a Test had ever been forfeited.
Shaharyar Khan, Ashraf's predecessor and chairman during The Oval Test, shared Inzamam's sentiments. "He [Hair] should never have been reinstated after committing so many gross irregularities during the  Oval Test," Shaharyar told Reuters.
"The ICC board decided beyond doubt Hair's conduct was not up to the mark. This man violated his responsibilities as a senior umpire. How the ICC can restore him is hard to comprehend."
Ramiz Raja, former captain and widely-respected commentator, said the decision highlighted Pakistan's weak hand at international level. "The decision of Hair's recall shows Pakistan's lack of presence at international forums. It is surprising that Hair was reinstated without being tried and tested. It shows that the international community is ready to walk over Pakistan whenever they want."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.