Hair apologises for 'ill-advised' offer to quit

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The umpire Darrell Hair maintained a robust defence of his conditional offer of resignation when he issued a statement yesterday addressed to his family, friends and supporters.

In it Hair sounded publicly contrite for the first time since penalising Pakistan for alleged ball tampering in the fourth Test against England at the Oval, an action which sparked a series of unprecedented events, starting with a forfeited Test match and culminating in the Australian umpire's demand for $500,000 (£270,000) in compensation from the International Cricket Council in return for him standing down from future matches for the ICC.

Hair said in his statement: "I wish to apologise to all my family, friends and supporters, because I somehow feel that I may have let them down, simply by sending an ill-advised but entirely confidential e-mail. That has given other people the opportunity to question my motives."

This was clearly aimed at the ICC, whom, Hair claims, had been involved in negotiations for his resignation prior to him sending the e-mail with a list of his conditions, including that demand for £270,000 compensation.

The rest of his latest statement suggested that Hair was quite emotional. The statement opened with him saying: "I firstly want to thank my friends and family for their support.

"In addition, I want to thank so many supporters from around the world, for their support in huge numbers. I am both stunned and gratified by those messages from people I've never even met."

He then followed that with his apology before he ended with a request for privacy for himself and his partner, Amanda, as well as their neighbours in Lincoln, where the 53-year-old Australian now lives.

"I request that you now respect our privacy and allow us and our neighbours to go about their daily routines free of disruption."

But while Hair was defending one front he found himself under renewed attack on another with reports emanating from Pakistan that that country's cricket board wants him thrown off the ICC's élite panel of umpires.

The Pakistan Cricket Board wants Hair removed before the ICC Champions Trophy in India in October.

An unnamed official at the PCB was quoted as saying: "Pakistan has held discussions with some other [ICC] member boards on this issue and are confident that, after the Hair demand for money, it would be able to move a motion asking for the Australian's removal from the élite panel."

Shaharyar Khan, the chairman of the PCB, has already stated that he does not want Hair to stand in any match involving Pakistan in the future.

The ICC's executive board had been scheduled to meet next Saturday to discuss the issues arising from the fateful Oval Test, and no doubt the PCB request for Hair's demotion would have been on the agenda. But yesterday, in yet another twist, the president of the ICC, Percy Sonn, announced that the meeting had been cancelled.

It is understood that there were three reasons underlying the decision to call off the meeting, the first of which was the cost of flying all of the board members to Dubai, estimated to be between £50,000 and £60,000. Second, there is a process already in place with the disciplinary hearing, which is expected to be set for the second half of next month, at which the Pakistan captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, is scheduled to appear to answer a charge of ball tampering and another of bringing the game into disrepute after Pakistan delayed returning to the field after tea at the Oval on the Sunday in protest at Hair's allegations.

Third, the ICC is fearful of setting a precedent by calling an emergency meeting of its executive board. Last night Sonn explained: "Last week I felt it necessary to call a meeting of the board of directors to brief them on the end to the Test match at the Oval and subsequent events. That meeting was due to take place this coming Saturday.

"However, having had the chance to contact the directors and seeing they have an understanding of the situation I have decided this course of action is not necessary so I have decided to cancel the meeting.

"The original intention was to seek legal advice concerning the executive board's powers but I do not believe it is necessary to obtain that advice. We have processes in place to deal with code of conduct matters and we should not seek to interfere with it."

The delay over the timing of the hearing, which was due take place last Friday until the senior match referee Ranjan Madugalle withdrew for personal reasons, had caused Pakistan to consider withdrawing from their one-day series against England.

But the tourists are now satisfied with yesterday's cancellation, with the PCB chairman Khan confirming: "We understand the need for the hearing to go ahead for the reasons explained by [the] ICC president Mr Sonn.

"In the mean time, we are delighted at the chance to get back to playing cricket, starting with the NatWest Twenty20 international against England and with five one-day internationals to follow."

'I feel I might have let you all down': Darrell Hair's statement yesterday.

"I have already made a statement regarding the disclosure of confidential documents by ICC on Friday 25th August, 2006.

"I firstly want to publicly thank my friends and family for their support. In addition, I want to thank so many supporters from around the world for their support in huge numbers. I am both stunned and gratified by those messages from people I've never even met.

"I wish to apologise to all to my family, friends and supporters because I somehow feel that I may have let them down simply by sending an ill-advised but entirely confidential e-mail. That has given other people the opportunity to question my motives.

"That is all I am prepared to say and I request that you now respect our privacy and allow us and our neighbours to go about their daily routines free of disruption."

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