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Mushy has a lot of respect for Hair

Published: Thursday, May 22, 2008, 15:47 [IST]
 
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Manchester: Former Pakistan captain and coach Mushtaq Ahmed has emerged as an unlikely champion of controversial umpire Darrell Hair as the Australian prepares for a return to Test cricket.

Friday's match between England and New Zealand here at Old Trafford will be the first Test that Hair, 55, has umpired in nearly two years since he was involved in penalising Pakistan five penalty runs for alleged ball-tampering at The Oval in August 2006.

So incensed were Pakistan they refused to take the field after tea on the fourth day, a move that ultimately saw them forfeit the match - the first and so far only time this has happened in the 131 years of Test history.

Hair was subsequently dropped as a Test umpire while Pakistan were cleared of ball-tampering charges.

But Mushtaq, who played 57 Tests between 1959-1979, said Hair was a strong official, unafraid to do what he thought was right.

"It would be easy for me to join the Darrell Hair-hate mob but he is an umpire who will call a spade a spade and stand up for what he believes is right and I admire that," Mushtaq told the Bigstarcricket.com website.

"I am not saying I agree with some of the decisions he has made, especially at The Oval, but I do respect the fact he is big enough to put his career on the line for what he believes in.

"Many umpires and referees nowadays are frightened to say anything because they might lose their comfortable lifestyles touring the world," added Mushtaq, himself a former match referee.

Mushtaq said he expected Hair would be kept away from games featuring the leading sub-continental nations but warned this would be an error on the part of the International Cricket Council.

"I think the ICC will now make sure he is kept away from matches involving the Asian bloc, maybe with the exception of Bangladesh, but I think this would be a mistake.

"I respect the views of the national boards and I am not in any way complaining about them but the way I see it is that they all agreed the umpires on the elite panel and they should respect and stand by the decision they made or agreed to back then.

"They put Darrell Hair on the panel so they should not be asking for special treatment now he is on there, no matter what decisions he has made."

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