|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Player:||DB Hair, SK Warne, BR Doctrove|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 23rd August 2006
Shane Warne has insisted umpire Darrell Hair was not a racist as the furore surrounding his fellow Australian's role in the decision to rule that Pakistan had forfeited the fourth and final Test against England at The Oval last week intensified.
No one from the Pakistan touring team or board has branded Hair a racist since he, together with West Indian official Billy Doctrove, ruled that Pakistan's refusal to take the field after tea Sunday meant they'd forfeited the match - the first time this had happened in 129 years of Test cricket.
However, Hair has repeatedly been accused of being biased against teams from the Indian sub-continent ever since he no-balled Sri Lanka off-spin star Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing a decade ago.
But leg-spin great Warne, currently in Australia for a training camp with the national side, said in a column in Wednesday's London Times: "I don't think Darrell Hair is a racist.
"I think that he tries to do the best job that he can, like any other umpire. He goes by the letter of the law and does what he thinks umpires ought to do.
"It is unfortunate that he has been involved in a couple of controversies in his time, but labelling him racist is unfair," Warne, who has been captaining English county Hampshire this season, added.
Pakistan were angered by the umpires' decision to publicly penalise them for ball-tampering by awarding five additional runs to England's total.
"If the umpires have a problem there are clear channels to go through and it looks as though they did it by the book," Warne said.
"To end a game with a team refusing to take the field seems bizarre - especially, I'd guess, to spectators... If there is a problem in a Test match you can log it with the match referee and let the process take its course. You know where you stand.
"Pakistan must have thought they had a better way of making a complaint."
Inzamam-ul-Haq, as Pakistan's captain, has been charged with ball tampering and bringing the game into disrepute.
His case is due to heard by Ranjan Madugalle, the International Cricket Council's chief match referee, at a hearing in London on Friday.
Although the disrepute charge is deemed by the ICC to be the more serious, carrying a possible punishment of between two and four Test matches or four to eight ODI matches, there are concerns that if Inzamam is deemed to have tampered with the ball especially then Pakistan could pull out from their upcoming five-match one-day series against England, due to start next week.
That is because finding Inzamam guilty of ball-tampering would be tantamount to saying he and his side had cheated - the ultimate offence in cricket.
Meanwhile Hair stood by his decision as he made his first public comment on the issue in an interview with Brisbane's Courier-Mail on Tuesday.
"People who know me know I would not take action unless I really thought it was necessary," Hair said.
"I stand by what I have done, but if anything comes out at the inquiry that proves me incorrect, I would accept that too."
And the 53-year-old, a veteran of 76 Tests, said he was ready for attempts by his critics to use the current situation to remove him from the ICC's elite panel of leading international umpires.
"If other people have issues they want to use to force me out it will be an interesting battle.
"That is not something that is an issue for me. There is no problem with me and the subcontinent," insisted Hair, who stands fourth in the all-time list of Test match appearances by an umpire.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)