Pakistan board stands firm over Hair

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LAHORE, Oct 12 (Reuters) The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) still maintains that Australian umpire Darrell Hair should not be allowed to officiate top matches as a member of the International Cricket Council's elite panel.

Board chairman Nasim Ashraf told a news conference today, however, that Pakistan could change its stance after the ICC executive board revisits Hair's case in six months.

''Our stand on Hair at the moment is clear, it has not changed.

He is not fit to stand in big matches,'' Ashraf said. ''We will wait and see how the next six months pass and how the executive board reviews his case.

''He was suspended from supervising big matches by the board and if they feel he can do the job again after his rehabilitation process we would definitely consider it,'' he said.

Pakistan demanded Hair's removal from the elite panel last year after the Oval test in which he accused the Pakistan team of ball tampering and they refused to continue the match, which was awarded to England.

Hair is contracted to the ICC until March 2008 when the ruling body will decide if he can again officiate matches involving full test playing nations.

Hair this week made an unconditional withdrawal of the racial discrimination case he had filed against the ICC in a London employment tribunal after he was stopped from supervising top games.

The PCB also gave a vote of confidence to team captain Shoaib Malik.

''I can tell you this despite all the rumours, Shoaib Malik is going to be retained as captain when we review his performance in December,'' Ashraf said.

Malik and new Australian coach Geoff Lawson have come under fire due to the team's poor performances in the current home test series against South Africa despite making the final of the Twenty20 World Cup last month.

REUTERS PDS RK1648

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