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Darrell Hair, the Australian umpire at the centre of the ongoing ball-tampering controversy, has claimed that his offer to resign if offered US$500,000 was made at the behest of the ICC. In a statement issued through his lawyers last night, Hair stated that he was invited to put his offer in writing by Doug Cowie, the ICC's umpires manager.
Hair said that his offer "was not a spur of the moment thing" and that he had a dialogue with the ICC. This immediately shifted the focus to Cowie, who first responded to the infamous Hair email last Tuesday by suggesting that his resignation offer "may have merit".
But Hair has now claimed that Speed made only a partial disclosure of exchanges three days later. Hair's lawyer also said that his latest statement was designed to "address certain misconceptions that appear to have arisen as a consequence of the release of certain confidential correspondence between Mr Hair and ICC".
"I was encouraged to make the offer that was disclosed by ICC on August 25. During an extended conversation on August 21 with Mr Cowie I was invited to make a written offer. The figure in the e-mail correspondence was in line with those canvassed with the ICC. I would have thought that it was quite apparent from the text of correspondence that I had been in discussions with ICC about the issue. The opening words of my e-mail to Mr Cowie confirm this: 'Just (to) firm up what we discussed earlier this evening ... '"
The ICC quickly rebutted the claim. A spokesman said: "There were many informal discussions between Mr Hair and Mr Cowie between the end of the Oval Test and Mr Hair's first e-mail on Tuesday, including a discussion on the potential impact on his career. Mr Cowie's role was to support and counsel Mr Hair, as his manager, at a difficult time. It is our understanding that at no stage during their conversations was there discussion of a pay-off, nor secrecy, nor deadlines, nor misleading the public over reasons for retirement -- all of which was subsequently laid out in Mr Hair's email."
Speed said he wanted Hair to continue as an international umpire but wasn't sure whether it would be possible after all this. He went on to back Cowie as well. "If he could play it again, Doug would play it differently," Speed said. "When the email came to me, I saw that not for one second could we contemplate it."