Umpire row 'could split Test nations': Pakistan minister
by AFP

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 24th August 2006


Pakistan's sports minister has warned that the ball-tampering row which blew up here last week could split cricket's world governing body.


Mian Shimam Haider said there was a "real possibility" Asia's four Test-playing countries would form a faction within the International Cricket Council (ICC) over the row, which has prompted racism claims against umpire Darrell Hair.


"He's been controversial. He had done the same thing with the Indians, he had done the same thing with the Sri Lankans, Bangladesh," Haider told the BBC.


"There could be groups and the ICC would be divided into two groups." The minister called for the ICC to withdraw the claim that Pakistan cheated in the fourth Test against England or bring evidence to prove it.


"We feel they should withdraw these allegations or if they have the cameras, they have the proof, they can prove it. If they prove it, fine, we don't mind."


Pakistan refused to return to the field after tea at The Oval in protest at Hair's decision to punish them for ball-tampering, prompting the Australian official to call the first forfeit in Test history.


Pakistan have made clear they want the official barred from their future matches, a move flatly rejected by the ICC.


Hair has stood by his action and on Thursday received the tacit backing of Prime Minister John Howard, who said cricket would descend into "chaos" if officials were not supported when enforcing the rules.


"There are rules and, provided the rules are followed and properly applied, then the umpires should be supported," Howard said.


"Once you start cutting and running from supporting umpires, you have chaos."


Howard also supported Hair in a previous controversy when he no-balled Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for a faulty action.


Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraff has also weighed into the dispute, a move endorsed by his sports minister.


"I think the president did the right thing. He had to support his team," Haider said.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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