Darrell Hair, the Australian umpire who accused Pakistan of ball tampering during the Oval Test in August against England this summer, has been banned from umpiring in internationals. The announcement was made by Percy Sonn, the ICC president, at a press conference in Mumbai at the end of a two-day ICC meeting.
"The board has discussed this matter with great sincerity," said Sonn, "and gave lots of attention to it and they've come to the conclusion that they've lost confidence in Mr Hair. They've given instructions to the management to discuss Mr Hair's future with him. I think we owe Mr Hair the courtesy of allowing his future to be discussed by him with our management before we go anywhere further in the matter. He shall not be allowed to officiate in any future international games until the end of this contract."
However, both Malcom Speed, the CEO of the ICC, and Sonn made it clear that there was "no issue" about the result of The Oval Test. "With regard to compensation, there is a claim by the ECB against the PCB. That is unresolved. It may end up being referred to the ICC disputes resolution committee but at this stage there's been no request for that to happen."
Both also confirmed that the future of Billy Doctrove, the other umpire involved the Oval drama, was secure adding, "The executive board didn't discuss Doctrove".
It was widely rumoured yesterday that Hair's future was in doubt, when a reliable source at the ICC leaked the news to a TV station in India. "The Asian bloc comprising India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh tabled a motion at the meeting that Hair be taken off the panel," the source said. "The motion was put to vote and was passed by a 7-3 majority. The four Asian nations plus South Africa, Zimbabwe and the West Indies voted against Hair. England, Australia and New Zealand wanted him to continue."
Pressure from the four-nation Asian bloc has seemingly forced the ICC's hand and Hair will no longer be permitted to officiate in internationals involving any full member side. Speed revealed that he'd spoken to Hair last night, after the decision was taken and added that they will make an effort to protect Hair's interests. "I've said a number of times that I hope we can find a way for Darrell to umpire," he said. "The board has resolved that they don't wish Darrell Hair is appointed to umpire international matches. I spoke to Darrell yesterday after the decision was made. I told him about it and he was very disappointed. David Richardson, who is the ICC General Manager of Cricket, and myself will speak to Darrell over the next few days and talk about what it means to him.
"ICC has a number of lawyers on staff, who are well aware of our legal position," he continued when asked if the ICC had considered the legal recourse that Hair might consider. "It's correct that Hair is contracted till March 2008. But we need a little time to discuss the matter with him, to protect whatever interests he has."
Speed also made it clear that this wasn't a decision taken at the spur of the moment, confirming that the board had considered the issue in detail. "The ICC board - which consists of 13 representatives from the member countries - was presented with a very detailed paper that rain into 15-20 page. The board certainly had a lot of information before it started its procedure yesterday. They had two hours of discussion on the issue. As it was reported the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had lodged a formal charge under the ICC code of conduct. That was also considered by the board. This was no knee-jerk reaction. The board had a good deal of information in front of it as is the case of any decision on the board."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo