ICC chief: Hair wanted cash to resign

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The Independent Online

International Cricket Committee chief executive Malcolm Speed today revealed Australian umpire Darrell Hair offered to resign following the ball-tampering affair this week in exchange for "a payment of US dollars 500,000".

Hair was the umpire who accused Pakistan captain Inzaman ul-Haq of ball-tampering and bringing the game into disrepute in the fourth Test against England at The Oval last Sunday.

Hair and fellow umpire Billy Doctrove first penalised Pakistan five runs for ball-tampering and then judged they had forfeited the match by failing to halt a sit-in protest when play was due to resume.

The ICC were due to hold a disciplinary hearing for Inzamam today but that was postponed because of the unavailability of ICC referee Ranjan Madugalle, with a new date expected to have been set today.

However the ICC called a press conference today at which Speed revealed Hair's actions.

Speed said: "On Tuesday 22 August I was handed a letter written on that day by Darrell Hair to Doug Cowie, who is the ICC Umpires and Referees Manager.

"When I received the letter it is fair to say I was extremely surprised by the content and concerned as to how I should deal with it.

"In the letter Darrell Hair offered to leave his job as a top official in the ICC in exchange for a payment of USD 500,000."

Speed is confident that Hair was acting "to find a solution in the interests of the game".

He said: "Darrell Hair was under great stress when he wrote these letters and I am confident that Darrell Hair had no dishonest, underhand or malice intent - he was seeking to find a solution in the interests of the game."

Speed added: "This issue has been marked by a series of unnecessary and entirely avoidable over-reactions.

"I've been concerned I was over-reacting to the content of these letters but I have been assured I am not."

After receiving the offer from Hair, Speed was advised by lawyers to disclose the contents to the Pakistan Cricket Board as they were relevant to the disciplinary case against Inzamam.

Having informed the PCB, Speed then felt compelled to make the documents public.

Speed added: "This issue has created unprecedented media and public interest.

It has become an international and diplomatic issue and there is a huge amount of misinformation, speculation and conjecture in parts of the world.

"There have been allegations of bias, racism and conspiracy but it is about none of these things.

"It involves two simple cricket issues. Did the Pakistan team change the nature of the ball in an illegal manner under the laws of the game?

"Secondly, did the refusal by the Pakistan team to resume the match when directed to do so bring the game into disrepute? Let me say again, they are cricket issues.

"The ICC code of conduct provides a mechanism for former cricketers, match referees, to use their experience as cricketers to use their judgement on cricket issues and that is the process that we are trying to achieve here. "

Speed made clear that no action has yet been taken against Hair - but refused to rule out that possibility in the future.

Speed added: "Darrell Hair has been in a difficult position since Sunday and I am stating the obvious by saying that.

"As a result of this disclosure that position has been made more difficult.

"I have said to Darrell today - and he and I had a long meeting that was attended by three other ICC staff members - that while this was a serious issue there are issues in relation to his contract and in relation to the ICC Umpires Code of Conduct.

"I have said to him that he is not sacked, he is not suspended, and he has not been charged. I also said to him that I didn't guarantee that each of those three positions would be maintained indefinitely. We are in a very early stage of dealing with this issue."

Speed also refused to rule out the possibility of the ICC dropping the charges levelled against Pakistan by Hair.

Speed added: "I don't want to speculate about that because before we go to the executive board we need some advice about the impact of today's issue.

"And we also need some advice about the power of the executive board to in effect overturn a properly laid code of conduct charge made by an umpire. I am not in a position to answer those questions at this stage."

Pakistan's lawyer, Mark Gay, confirmed Hair's correspondence was made public with the PCB's agreement.

"We met with the ICC and we agreed that it should be disclosed," he said.

"Other than that it is a matter for ICC. We do not want to prejudice the preparation of our case."