|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 22nd August 2006
Former Australia captains Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor defended umpire Darrell Hair's integrity in the wake of the Pakistan foreit row Tuesday, as the local media dubbed him "the bravest man in cricket".
Waugh said the Australian official correctly awarded the fourth Test to England Sunday after Pakistan refused to come out after tea in protest at allegations of ball-tampering.
"I definitely agree with that, if they don't go back on the field the Test is over," Waugh told Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper, adding: "No one's bigger than the game."
The 168-Test veteran said Hair could be "stubborn and a bit hard-nosed" but he would not have made a serious charge of ball-tampering against Pakistan without good reason.
Hair was the centre of a storm when he no-balled Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan for chucking at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1995, and Waugh said the umpire would not have taken his latest actions lightly.
"He always stands by what he believes so you can't ask for much more from an umpire," he said.
Waugh's predecessor as Australian Test captain Mark Taylor rejected claims Hair was biased against South Asian teams.
"I'm sure he's just doing what he thinks is right," Taylor told Channel Nine television.
The Australian media also dismissed criticism of the umpire.
Under the headline "He is the bravest man in cricket", the Telegraph's chief cricket writer Robert Craddock said the powerful bloc of Asian Test-playing nations -- Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- would force Hair from the game.
"It's a shame," he said. "Cricket needs no-nonsense characters like Hair who keep the game honest."
"To his great credit, Darrell Hair is prepared to poke his nose into grubby corners of the cricket world where most of his fellow umpires refuse to go."
The Australian's Patrick Smith said it was wrong to accuse Hair of racism.
"Hair has acted at all times not on the colour of a cricketer's skin but on the letter of the law," he said. "Had cricket itself followed Hair's lead, the game itself would not be so compromised."
The Sydney Morning Herald's Phil Wilkins echoed the sentiment, saying Hair was the one man on the International Cricket Council (ICC) umpiring panel brave enough to take a stand.
"Hair is a man of the strictest principle; an official absolutely true to the game; an umpire of the fairest, most unswerving practices," he said.
"He has always been a man of the strongest fibre and for that he is being castigated ferociously."
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)