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Hair banned from umpiring

By Harish Kotian in Mumbai
Last updated on: November 04, 2006 23:28 IST
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The International Cricket Council on Saturday announced that umpire Darrell Hair will no longer officiate in international matches.

"The ICC Board discussed the issue of umpire Hair at their meeting and they have come to a conclusion that they have lost confidence in Mr Hair," ICC president Percy Sonn told reporters in Mumbai, after the two-day Board meeting.

"As such, it was resolved that he should not be appointed to international matches involving ICC Full Members," he added.

The game's ruling body also said that India had agreed to sign the Members Participation Agreement (MPA).

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"All outstanding issues with regard to the MPA have been resolved. BCCI's issues have also been resolved and they are satisfied. We all can move forward now," Sonn said.

The third important announcement of the evening was the re-instatement of former Pakistan pacer Ata-ur-Rehman, who was given a life ban in 2000 for his alleged role in the match-fixing scandal.

"Ata-ur-Rehman has been re-instated in the official players list. He has been unbanned from May 2007. The ban has been lifted after seven years and was dealt with very fairly and by people qualified. Other players who want their ban lifted can take the same approach to get their bans lifted," Sonn said.

"Accepting, as we do, that Judge Qayyum's findings of guilt are impregnable, we note that Atta-ur-Rehman was at the time of the offence a young man -- only 20 years of age, that he did not initiate the plan to fix a match, and that he was no doubt easily influenced by persons far senior to him in the team," ICC added in a statement.

ICC Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed said they had hoped to find a way for Hair to continue at the highest level.

"But the Board wished that Hair should not continue in international cricket. We informed Hair about this decision yesterday and he was very disappointed," Speed said.

"We will have further discussions with Hair and find out what we can do. His contract runs till March 2008, but he can't officiate in international cricket. But we owe him the respect and we will try and talk to him," Sonn added.

Sonn refused to divulge any further information on the Hair issue and even spoke rudely to a few scribes, when they continued asking for the details.

"If you didn't want us to ask questions, why did you have a press conference then," questioned one journalist. To which Sonn replied, "You are free to leave if you want. We are not giving any more details."

Pakistan blamed Hair when they forfeited the Oval Test against England in August after being penalised for alleged ball-tampering.

The Pakistan team refused to take the field after tea on the fourth day of the fourth Test after Hair and fellow-umpire Billy Doctrove penalised them five runs and changed the ball, which led to the forfeiture of the match.

An ICC inquiry headed by ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle cleared Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq of ball-tampering on September 28 although it banned him for four one-day internationals for bringing the game into disrepute.

Hair had already been embroiled in controversy when the ICC revealed that he had offered to retire in exchange for $500,000 and the Pakistan Cricket Board made it clear it did not want him involved in any more of its games.

The ICC also said that the BCCI had withdrawn its application to bid for ICC's marketing rights from 2007-2015.

"BCCI decided not to bid for the marketing rights. So now we can move the tender process forward. We are pleased with the response to the bidding process. 22 companies have purchased tender documents, the closing date for which is November 10," Speed said.

"The Board decided a return to Test cricket for Zimbabwe in November 2007 is realistic providing it re-establishes a credible domestic first-class structure and secures competitive cricket for its best players against high-class A sides in the next 12 months," Speed said.

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Harish Kotian in Mumbai