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Hair is mini Hitler, screams Imran

Ex-Pakistani greats have slammed the Aussie umpire over a ball-doctoring row that gifted England a Test victory.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2006 16:52 IST

Pundits and ex-Pakistani internationals slammed Australian umpire Darrell Hair over a ball-tampering row that gifted England an infamous test match win. Pakistan cricket great Imran Khan went so far Monday as to describe Hair as a "mini Hitler."

"Hair-raising row turns Oval test on its head," screamed the front page headline in Monday's usually conservative daily Dawn newspaper.

"Hold your nerves - Hair comes trouble," read the headline splashed across the front page of the popular daily The News.

For the first time in test cricket history the match - halfway through its fourth day and heading toward an exciting conclusion - was declared forfeit and awarded to England at The Oval. That gave England, in danger of losing the fourth test, a more comfortable-looking 3-0 series victory.

The drama began Sunday when umpires Hair and West Indian Billy Doctrove awarded England five penalty runs because, they said, Pakistan had tampered with the ball.

The Pakistan team stayed in the pavilion after the tea interval, in protest, when the umpires and England batsmen returned to the pitch.

After eight hours of meetings and negotiations, the International Cricket Council upheld the umpires' original decision that Pakistan's failure to return to the field was equivalent to a forfeit.

"It was indeed a farce most sordid" and "was nothing short of shameful," Imran Khan wrote in a front page article in daily The Nation.

Khan, who led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 World Cup, accused Hair of having a lead role in the outcome.

"Hair is one of those characters when he wears the white umpires coat, he metamorphoses into a mini Hitler," Khan wrote of the 53-year-old umpire.

Hair, renowned for having a strict interpretation of the rules, previously courted controversy by calling Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan for chucking - or using an illegal bowling action - seven times in a test match at Melbourne in 1995.

Ramiz Raja, a former Pakistani test batsman and now a cricket commentator, described Hair as a "villain" in his column in The Nation.

"The star of the show was definitely umpire Darrel Hair, but as a villain of the piece," Raja wrote. "His arbitrary and insensitive style of judgment at The Oval sparked an absolutely needless controversy that has put the Test match in serious jeopardy and brought infamy to the game."