|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Player:||DB Hair, Inzamam-ul-Haq|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 5th November 2006
The International Cricket Council confirmed on Saturday it had removed controversial Australian umpire Darrell Hair from the elite world panel following a ball-tampering row with Pakistan.
"The Executive Board has decided it has lost confidence in the umpire," ICC president Percy Sonn of South Africa told reporters at the conclusion of the two-day Board meeting here.
Hair, 56, whose contract with the ICC runs till March 2008, had been informed of the decision to remove him on Friday night, ICC chief executive officer Malcolm Speed of Australia added.
"I spoke to Darrell last night and he was very disappointed to hear that he will no longer stand as an international umpire," said Speed.
"The ICC will discuss Hair's future with him in due course."
Sonn, asked if Hair may take the ICC to court for terminating his contract early, said: "We have an in-house team of lawyers and they had been consulted before the decision was taken.
Both Sonn and Speed declined to take further questions on whether the umpires' integrity had been compromised by Hair's unprecedented sacking or which countries wanted him removed.
The decision to remove Hair was made on the opening day of the Board meeting on Friday, a highly-placed ICC source had earlier told AFP.
It came after Pakistan lodged a complaint against Hair for his role in the forfeited Oval Test against England in August and demanded an inquiry into his conduct.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting said the decision was "surprising and disappointing", while Pakistani officials said their stance in the row had been vindicated.
"Since we were involved in the standoff it vindicates whatever we believed and advocated, said former Pakistan Cricket Board director Abbas Zaidi.
Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar also hailed the decision.
"I think what the ICC has done is the right thing," Bashar told AFP.
Hair awarded the first forfeited match in Test cricket's 129-year history when Pakistan refused to return to the field in protest at being accused of ball-tampering.
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was later cleared of illegally altering the ball, although he was banned for four one-day matches for bringing the game into disrepute.
Hair's reputation plummeted still further when the ICC revealed he had asked for 500,000 dollars in return for quitting the panel.
The ICC source had said pressure from Asia's four Test-playing nations -- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- had forced the Board to remove the Australian umpire.
The Asians together with South Africa, Zimbabwe and the West Indies, voted for Hair's dismissal, the source said. England, Australia and New Zealand wanted him to remain.
"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 a 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."
The controversies followed a string of stormy episodes during Hair's 14-year international career, often involving Asian teams.
In his very first match, in January 1992, he infuriated India at Adelaide with a series of contentious leg-before decisions.
But he first hit the headlines in 1995 when he repeatedly no-balled Sri Lanka's spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan for chucking.
The umpire further inflamed Sri Lankan opinion by describing the spinner's action as "diabolical" in his autobiography.
Hair also upset Pakistan last November by ruling that captain Inzamam had been run out by a throw to the wicket-keeper during the Faisalabad Test, even though the batsman appeared to be taking evasive action.
The ICC did not include Hair in the panel for the ongoing Champions Trophy tournament in India, saying it was doing this for "safety and security reasons."
Hair, a veteran of 76 Tests, first stood in first-class cricket in 1988-1989, having previously been a fast bowler for North Sydney and Mosman in the Sydney grade club competition.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)