The International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Thursday they would “vigorously defend” themselves in legal proceedings for alleged racial discrimination brought by Australian umpire Darrell Hair, insisting they were without merit.
Hair, who is also taking action against the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), believes he is being wrongfully targeted following the ball-tampering row during the forfeited Oval Test last August between England and Pakistan.
It is understood he feels the PCB were involved in inducing the ICC in action which could be described as discrimination when the Pakistan cricketing authorities urged his suspension on the run-up to a meeting in November.
But in a statement issued from their Dubai headquarters, the ICC, cricket’s world governing body and Hair’s employer, said: “The ICC have noted reports that umpire Darrell Hair has instructed his lawyers to issue an application to the London Central Employment Tribunal alleging racial discrimination by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)”.
“The ICC does not believe there is merit in this claim and will vigorously defend the matter. Given the ongoing nature of proceedings, the ICC will not be making any further comment on the issue at this stage,” he added.
Hair announced on Wednesday at a news conference in Nairobi, where he had been umpiring in the ICC World Cricket League for associate nations, that he would be taking legal action.
“I can confirm that I have instructed my lawyers, Finers Stephens Innocent, London, to issue an application in the London Central Employment Tribunal alleging racial discrimination by the ICC and PCB,” Hair said.
“It is inappropriate for me to make further comment given that this matter is yet to be determined by the tribunal,” he added.
This was the latest twist in a saga that began in London several months ago when Hair, together with West Indian umpire Billy Doctrove, penalised Pakistan five runs on the fourth day of the fourth Test against England at The Oval
because they believed ball-tampering had taken place.
So incensed were Pakistan they did not take the field after tea with the umpires, who ultimately awarded the match to England on the grounds Pakistan had forfeited the game — the first time this had happened in Test history.
Though Hair’s contract as a top official runs until 2008, he is now only allowed to stand in matches between non-Test nations and it was a one-day tournament involving Kenya, Canada and Scotland last month which marked his return to action.
However, Doctrove had already returned to his top-flight umpiring duties.
In the aftermath of The Oval affair, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s captain, was cleared of ball-tampering but given a four-match ban for bringing the game into disrepute.
Hair then offered his resignation in exchange for 500,000 dollars before he was removed from the ICC’s elite umpire panel.
The PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf insisted on Wednesday: “Race has nothing to do with this”.
“Mr Hair was removed from the elite panel of umpires by the full ICC board, which has many countries, because of his poor judgment,” he told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
Source:The NewsMore on:Darrell Hair, icc, PCB
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