Australian umpire Darrell Hair has accused the International Cricket Council of yielding to "racially discriminatory pressure" from Pakistan and India which has stopped him from officiating in Test matches.
Hair's counsel, Robert Griffiths QC, told an employment tribunal here that while his fellow umpire Billy Doctrove, a 52-year-old black West Indian, had escaped sanction from the ICC despite bearing joint responsibility, his client had been stopped from umpiring Test matches.
"It is no understatement to say that the ICC's actions as regards the claimant have been devastating for him," he said.
Griffiths accused the ICC of yielding to "racially discriminatory pressure" from Pakistan and India, which he said, felt that it was Hair's "turn" to be punished after the then Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was suspended.
"The Asian bloc is dominant in cricket," he said. "Sometimes, as here, it appears that it uses that dominance unlawfully."
Hair's counsel said the important issue was whether Hair was punished to save Pakistan's cricketing reputation, "and/or to teach a white Australian umpire a lesson, and any other like umpires" who dared to repeat his action.
Griffiths said that even though Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf had made a complaint about Hair's conduct during the Oval test, he had still been allowed to attend an un-minuted, three-man lunch meeting on Hair's future.
Giving evidence, Hair said he believed the ICC wanted to blame him for the abandonment of the Test, even though he explained he had been following the rules and had even pointed out that the match could be restarted on the orders of the ICC chief executive.
The game's governing body subsequently banned Hair from presiding over top matches. However, Griffiths said, the tape recording and transcript of the crucial part of the board meeting was missing.
"Whether by accident or design, there is no record of this most critical aspect of the meeting."
Michael Beloff QC, appearing for the ICC, dismissed any suggestion that Hair had been a victim of racial discrimination. "In cricketing terms, Hair ran himself out," he said.
Beloff shrugged off accusations that the Council had acted hypocritically by not punishing Doctrove.
"In fact, if not in law, Hair was by far the senior partner of the pair in terms of experience, and the moving force in what occurred," he said.
Hair and Doctrove were overseeing the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at The Oval in August last year when they began to suspect that the ball had been tampered with.
Pakistan, captained by Inzamam-ul-Haq, denied any wrongdoing. The umpires jointly decided to replace the ball and award England five penalty runs.
But Pakistan's indignation at being accused of cheating boiled over and, after tea, they refused to resume play. Their action prompted the umpires to remove the bails and declare the Test forfeited.