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Pak board seeks BCCI's help

CNN-IBN
Aug 22, 2006 at 08:07pm IST

New Delhi: The Cricket World seems to be heading for a split along the racial lines after the ball tampering row involving Pakistani team and Australian umpire Darrell Hair.

Pakistan Cricket Board has also sought the help of the Board of Control for Cricket in India on the ball tampering controversy.

They want the issue to be discussed in a meeting of Asian Cricket Council for a possible joint action.

IT'S NOT RIGHT: Hair's decision to award the Oval Test to England is seen as a racist move by many.

Pakistan say ball tampering allegations are an insult to the nation even though the Australians have hailed Hair as a hero. Some Asians have already branded Hair a racist.

The Australian media have also backed Hair, saying he should be applauded for taking a tough stand against the scourge of ball tampering.

Robert Craddock, writing for the Daily Telegraph, said he had been told by an English umpire last year that ball tampering was now rife in the English county competition but other umpires were afraid to speak up because of the repercussions for their own careers.

"Darrell Hair is prepared to poke his nose into grubby corners of the cricket world where most of his fellow umpires refuse to go," Craddock wrote. "He knows a 'tampered' ball when he sees one."

"If there were a few more Hairs available to stand in matches around the world then cricket would be in less of a mess than it is right now," Patrick Smith wrote in The Australian.

"If other umpires had been as strong as Hair then bowling would not have been corrupted in the manner it is now."

Hair now faces an uncertain future in the sport with the powerful Asian bloc united in their criticism of him but The Australian's chief cricket correspondent Malcolm Conn said the ICC would be wrong to bow to pressure and abandon him.

"Cricket is once again on the verge of disgracing itself by failing to support an umpire who has the courage to uphold the laws of the game," Conn wrote.

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"Hair should be considered a hero for his courage, despite being subjected to death threats in the past. The spirit of cricket is central to the well being of the game and Inzamam crushed that spirit by refusing to play. Only half a decade after the match-fixing scandal that tore at the very fabric of cricket, this is another low blow the game cannot afford."

However, Hair has never been far from controversy particulary when he has been officiating in matches involving Asian teams.

Hair was condemned by the Asian cricket community a decade ago when he no-balled Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing and was later dropped from the ICC's panel of elite umpires.

The ICC's decision to subsequently bend the rules so Muralitharan could continue bowling without fear of being called for throwing remains a highly contentious issue in Australia.

Former Pakistan skipper Imran Khan and Wasim Akram had on Monday demanded the sacking of Hair and branded him as the "villain".

Meanwhile, a report in Tuesday's Daily Telegraph claimed that the ball tampering row was triggered when England's coach Duncan Fletcher visited Mike Procter, the match referee before the start of the fourth day's play.

An ECB spokesman confirmed that Fletcher had met with Procter on Sunday morning but denied he had made a specific complaint about the state of the ball.

Sources close to the team have stated that Fletcher played a part in drawing the officials' attention to certain issues.

The report goes on to state that England's players were concerned on Saturday and notes that Marcus Trescothick was "spotted watching Pakistan's players through binoculars to figure out what actions they were performing on the ball".

If it turns out to be true then this may sour the relations between the two sides and the One-Day series might become another casualty of the row.

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