|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 23rd August 2006
International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed insisted Pakistan would have no right of veto over the appointment of Darrell Hair after the umpire ruled they had forfeited last week's fourth Test against England here at The Oval.
For the first time in the 129-year-history of Test cricket, a team were deemed to have forfeited the match after Pakistan refused to take the field following tea on Sunday's fourth day.
They did so in protest at the earlier decision of Hair and West Indian colleague Billy Doctrove to award five penalty runs to England because of what the umpires said was ball-tampering by Pakistan.
After previous run-ins with the Australian official, Pakistan made it clear they no longer wanted Hair involved in their matches.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan insisted his country were not "dictating" to the ICC in respect of Hair.
"Our team has a problem with his attitude on the field, that attitude has upset our team more than once, and if the ICC is sensitive to boards it will take due cogniscance of what we have said," the PCB chief said at a London news conference Monday.
But Speed, who said Tuesday he'd received a letter from Shaharyar, stressed that there would be no change in the appointment procedure of officials. He also backed the stance taken by fellow Australian Hair and Doctrove.
"It is hugely regrettable that the match did not end with a great finish in front of a full house," Speed said in a statement issued from the ICC's Dubai headquarters.
"That is something that would have acted as an appropriate conclusion to a series full of exciting and absorbing cricket (the forfeit gave England the four-match encounter 3-0).
"However it is not the role of the ICC to overturn the decisions of on-field umpires, the people who are enshrined in the Laws of Cricket as the sole judges of fair and unfair play, the ultimate arbiters of the game.
"In this instance the decision made by Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair to award the match to England was the correct one under the Laws."
Speed then said there would be no change in the way Hair, or anyone else, was chosen to umpire a major match.
"It remains the role of the ICC and not our members to appoint umpires to Tests and one-day internationals.
"The choices are made by the ICC's chief executive together with the chairman of the cricket committee, Sunil Gavaskar (the India batting great) following recommendations from the ICC's cricket department.
"The appointments are made without fear or favour and are based on the performances of the umpires in international matches."
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has been charged, in his role as skipper, under the ICC's code of conduct with altering the condition of the match ball and also with bringing the game into disrepute for his part in the no-show.
The star batsman faces a disciplinary hearing in front of ICC chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle in London on Friday.
There are concerns that were Inzamam, who has hired London-based sports lawyer Mark Gay to help with his case, to be found guilty of ball-tampering in particular then Pakistan cold call off their five-match one-day series against England, due to start next week.
Initial estimates suggest the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) could lose as much as 10 million pounds if the one-day series is scrapped.
More immediately, Pakistan could yet boycott Thursday's warm-up match with Middlesex at Uxbridge, west London.
Shaharyar said the umpires' actions had ramifications far beyond The Oval's boundaries. "In these days of tension outside the cricket ground, what a wonderful sight it is to see cricket between a Muslim country (Pakistan) and England, where the majority are Christians, with both sides being cheered, both sides being really appreciated. This is the spirit of cricket.
"Cricket offers a bridge of peace, why destroy this bridge over a technicality?"
But, with effigies of Hair being burnt in Pakistan, Speed was keen to place the issue in a narrower context.
"It should be borne in mind that Friday's code of conduct hearing is not a political, racial or religious matter but a cricketing one," he said.
"We have no vested interests in the outcome of the hearing but what we expect is that it will be fair and will illustrate our processes are suitably robust to deal with these issues."
Hair broke his silence Tuesday in an interview with the Brisbane Courier-Mail, saying: "People who know me know I would not take action unless I really thought it was necessary."
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)