ibnlive » Sports

Aug 23, 2006 at 05:52pm IST

Shane Warne comes to Hair's rescue

Melbourne: Shane Warne has leapt to the defence of umpire and fellow Australian Darrell Hair, saying the man at the centre of the ball-tampering row was not racially motivated and was doing what he thought was right.

"He's not racist, he just tries to do the best job he can," the leg-spinner said. "The times I've had him he's been fine."

Criticism of Hair in Pakistan has shifted from initial dismay to a darkening mood of racial and political undertones after the Australian official and fellow umpire Billy Doctrove accused Pakistan of ball-tampering in the fourth Test at the Oval.

DON'T JUDGE THE REF: Warne said Hair had done what he thought was best for the game.

Pakistan refused to return to the field after tea on Sunday, leading to the first forfeiture in the 129-year history of Test match cricket.

A question mark now hangs over the future of a One-Day series in England while skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq faces an International Cricket Council hearing on Friday on charges of ball-tampering and bringing the game into disrepute.

Reaction in Pakistan -- where Hair has been dubbed a 'mini Hitler' by former Pakistan captain Imran Khan -- has focused on a perceived bias against Asian teams from Hair, who has also been involved in major incidents involving Sri Lanka and India.

But the Australia squad, currently enduring a pre-Ashes boot camp on the Queensland coast, have defended Hair and criticised Pakistan's decision to abandon play.

"We have never done it in the past and I can't see any reason why we would want to do it in the future," said coach John Buchanan.

"We play the game pretty aggressively but I think we always play it within the rules and the spirit of the game."

Skipper Ricky Ponting said it was difficult to predict how people would respond in a similar match situation.

"Who knows how I'd handle it and how the Australian cricket team would handle it, but you'd like to think that we'd be able to do the right thing by the game and by everybody concerned," he said.