|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 31st August 2006
Cricket Australia's umpire selection chairman is reportedly prepared to offer Darrell Hair a career lifeline if he is dropped from cricket's elite panel over the Pakistan Test forfeit row.
The Sydney Morning Herald said Mel Johnson could offer Hair a place on Cricket Australia's international panel, a step down from the International Cricket Council's elite panel, on which Hair is still officially listed.
His spot on the elite panel in is doubt after the ICC revealed he offered to resign for a secret 500,000 dollar payment in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal.
Johnson said the 53-year-old Australian, who is based in England, had the option of returning home to continue his umpiring career.
"Darrell has not done anything wrong and, therefore, there is no reason why he couldn't come back on the international panel," Johnson told the Herald.
While appointments to the elite panel are made by the ICC, appointments on the international panel are made by national bodies such as Cricket Australia.
Umpires on the second tier can officiate at home one-day internationals and act as third umpires in Tests.
Hair has already worked his way back up from international to elite level after being left off the ICC's inaugural elite panel in 2002. The move was widely seen as linked to his no-balling Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1995.
Until the payment revelation last week, Hair received strong support from the Australian cricketing community for his ruling that Pakistan forfeited the fourth Test against England by refusing to take the field in protest at Hair's allegation of ball-tampering.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Hair remained a top umpire who could make a contribution to the game, revealing he sent the official a supportive email after the ball-tampering row broke out.
"I'm sure no matter what happens, whether he continues to umpire at international level or wherever else, he's still got a lot to offer cricket," Sutherland told reporters when asked if Hair's elite position was untenable.
"Darrell Hair is a highly respected international umpire.
"That's something for Darrell to think about and probably for the ICC to think about in due course, but hopefully no one will be making any rash decisions before proceedings get underway."
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)