The reinstatement of Darrell Hair to the full international panel of umpires was the most surprising outcome of the International Cricket Council's two-day meeting in Dubai, which finished today.
Hair has been undergoing what the ICC call "rehabilitation" since his decision to penalise the Pakistan team five runs for ball-tampering during the Oval Test of 2006 resulted in the first forfeited match in Test history.
An ICC spokesman said:
"The board have decided that he can he can be appointed to matches involving full member countries once more."
David Morgan, the incoming ICC president, said yesterday that Hair would be assigned to a full international programme.
he told reporters.
"Mr Hair is a very good and a very competent umpire,"
"He has had time away from the coalface and umpired other activities."
However, Morgan would not comment on whether Hair would be assigned to matches involving Pakistan, saying only that the allocation process would be handled by the ICC's operations manager David Richardson.
The Pakistan board are understood to be opposed to Hair's return, and it seems likely that this will be only a partial reprieve in which Hair officiates in selected matches – ie. those not involving sub-continental teams.
Today's press conference also revealed that there would be no sanctions taken against Zimbabwe Cricket, despite financial anomalies in their accounting which have been investigated by KPMG.
According to Ray Mali - the South African who is coming to the end of his term as ICC president –
"no individual or individuals have been singled out as having benefited from the finances in any way".
Instead, Mali explained, the problems – or "irregularities" – resulted from the seizure of important documentation by police and banking authorities. This ruling is unlikely to please the England and Wales Cricket Board, who are scheduled to host the Zimbabwean team twice next summer.
The press conference also included details of Inder Singh Bindra's appointment as "principal advisor" to the ICC. He will have a major role in the "promotion and development of the game", with special attention to the American market. He will also "assist host boards with the smooth functioning of ICC events".
Morgan said that Bindra had been appointed after the realisation that
"the image of the ICC could be improved, and so could relations between members".
Meanwhile, Imtiaz Patel, the man picked out as the ICC's preferred candidate to succeed Malcolm Speed as chief executive, has made it clear that this is far from being a done deal.
he said in a statement.
"I am humbled that the ICC has stated that it will invite me to fulfil such an important role within cricket, a sport that has a very special place in my heart,"
"I enjoy a most rewarding and happy career in my current role as CEO of SuperSport, which is a dynamic organisation within a wonderful international group.
"I will therefore be considering my position very carefully during the coming weeks and will be engaging in discussions with the ICC during this period."