Now umpire in cheating row is given job back

The day after he demanded a £265,000 pay-off, cricket's most controversial official is given 'not out'
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The Independent Online

The cricket umpire at the centre of the Test match cheating row was given an unexpected vote of confidence yesterday, less than 24 hours after it was revealed that he had sought a £265,000 pay-off.

Darrell Hair, heavily criticised after it was made public on Friday that in emails he had requested the pay-off from the game's ruling International Cricket Council (ICC) in order to retire from the sport, last night appeared to have saved his £60,000-a-year job.

The remarkable turn of events represents yet another twist in the drama played out over the past seven days. Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, said yesterday that he would like Mr Hair to continue umpiring top-class matches. "I hope we can find a way that Darrell Hair can continue to umpire," said Mr Speed. "He is among the two, three or four top umpires in the world. We've just got to allow some time to pass."

It was the same Mr Speed who, on Friday, made public Mr Hair's request for a "$500,000" (£265,000) golden handshake in order to quietly disappear from the sport. This followed Mr Hair's role in the alleged ball-tampering by the Pakistan team in its final Test match of the summer with England at the Oval.

The vote of confidence came as the former Australia captain Ian Chappell became the latest prominent cricket figure to claim that it was now impossible for Mr Hair, a fellow Australian, to umpire another Test match.

"His position was going to be difficult because they were obviously talking about the cost of security for Darrell Hair, which was probably going to make it very difficult for him to umpire on the sub-continent," said Chappell. "That would have made his position difficult. Now it's untenable."

The row erupted last Sunday when the highly experienced Mr Hair, 53, ruled that a subsequent protest over his decision to penalise the Pakistan team meant they had forfeited the match, the first team to do so in the 129-year history of international cricket.

With the forthcoming series of one-day matches between the countries left in serious doubt, and the Pakistan captain, Inzamam ul-Haq facing an ICC hearing over both cheating and bringing the game into disrepute, the controversy reached new heights on Friday evening with the publication of Mr Hair's emails to the ICC.

Then Mr Hair, who lives in Lincolnshire with his British wife, confused matters even further by issuing a statement of his own. In it, he claimed that his initial email was "composed at a very difficult time". He said that he wanted to continue in his umpiring job.

The Pakistan team have now travelled to Bristol to prepare for tomorrow's Twenty20 match against England.

Pakistan will then play five one-day internationals against England, with the first of them on Wednesday in Cardiff.