Umpire Darrell Hair said his offer to quit quietly in exchange for a US$500,000 payout from the International Cricket Council was a misguided attempt to defuse the controversy enveloping the sport.
After making a ball-tampering allegation against Pakistan that led to the first forfeit in 129 years of Test cricket, Hair was targeted for a torrent of criticism from London to Lahore.
The 53-year-old Australian official stood by his decision to award the fourth Test to England, giving the hosts a 3-0 series win, but subsequently made an offer to the ICC to retire in exchange for about four years worth of payments as compensation.
"It wasn't a spur of the moment thing. I didn't do it off the cuff," Hair told Brisbane's Sunday Mail newspaper from a "secret" location in England. "I had dialogue with them. That was understood."
Hair said the ICC's umpires and referees manager Doug Cowie replied by e-mail that the "proposal had merit." "This correspondence was composed at a very difficult time and was revoked by myself after a period of serious consideration," Hair said in a statement released earlier by the ICC.
"There was no malicious intent behind this communication with the ICC. "I am anxious the code of conduct hearing takes place as soon as possible so these matters can be resolved and allow me to move on with my umpiring."
Asked if he would umpire again at international level, Hair told the newspaper: "Let's address one thing at a time." ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, who made the correspondence from Hair public, said that he "did not for one second" think of accepting the offer.
On the fourth day of the final Test at The Oval, Hair and fellow umpire Billy Doctrove ruled that Pakistan illegally interfered with the ball and imposed a five-run penalty. The visitors protested by not coming out of the pavilion after the tea break and the umpires deemed that Pakistan had forfeited.
Of the offer to resign, Speed said: "I am confident (he) had no dishonest, underhand or malice intent he was seeking to find a solution (he) thought in the interests of the game." "I don't believe he saw it as an opportunity to make money. In no way did he indicate that his decisions were in any way incorrect."
Speed met with Hair, whose contract runs until March 2008, on Friday.
"I told Darrell he is not sacked, not suspended, and has not been charged," Speed said. "But I couldn't guarantee each of those positions could be maintained indefinitely."
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has been charged with ball-tampering and for bringing the game into disrepute for leading the boycott sparking fears that Pakistan would withdraw from the five-match limited-overs series that starts next week.
Inzamam's hearing was due to have been heard last Friday, but the ICC's chief match referee, Ranjan Madugalle, was unable to attend. It will now be held in September.