Brian Lara retires from international cricket

Tis the season of resignations but I’m slightly surprised that he’s not staying on for the Tests this summer. I suppose there’s only so much one man can burden; his shoulders must be aching after a decade digging West Indies out of a mess (often digging in vain). What a complete and utter privilege it’s been, though, watching his career. Yes, it’s been bitter-sweet as an England fan in particular – the 375 will live with me forever; the 400 less so. But few sporting figures in a spectator’s lifetime directly influence their enjoyment of the game. They are rare, and Lara was unique; West Indies were a one-man team with depressing regularity.

Has any player been so burdened by the weight of expectation? Richard Hadlee was one, Sachin Tendulkar another (but he has had a number of other players, not least Rahul Dravid, bat around him). Mike Atherton in the nineties. But Lara, despite his flaws (notably with captaincy), remained near the top right to the end. There were breathless highs and inexplicable lows. He often got out to a Gower-like flash yet he was capable not only of breaking world records but his own world records. Steve Waugh (or was it Mark Taylor?) maintained that the only way to keep the runs from flowing was not to sledge him. Lara loved a fight, a good old-fashioned playground scrap. Deny him a battle, verbal or otherwise, and he was half the man. A bloody legend, that’s what he was.

I did a gallery of his career about a year ago which is in the process of being tweaked, but have a look anyway if you like. Your favourite, most memorable Lara moments please…

Duncan’s departure

We knew it was coming, so it came as no surprise that Duncan Fletcher today resigned as England coach. As Andrew Miller notes in his piece, all coaching careers (like politicians’) have to end in failure. Fletcher, for all his faults in the past 18 months, has been the single most important figure in the English game over the last eight years. England needs someone new, less jaded and cynical – a bright-eyed replacement with fresh ideas. But let’s not forget what he has given to his adopted country.

Your thoughts? Are you sad, surprised or sullen about his resignation? Who should replace him?

55% think Hair should resign

The results of last week’s poll:

Should Darrell Hair resign?

Yes: 55% (136)
No: 45% (110)
Total Votes : 246

Interestingly, the results were neck and neck until Hair’s email revelations.

Hair: ‘I’ll retire…but only for $500,000′

As if the whole situation could not worsen, or become even more extraordinary, Darrell Hair offered to stand down or resign…but only with a bounty of $500,000. What the hell’s going on? Only just got back, and no time to make sense of it – it’s Friday, and I’m pickling the liver shortly – but leave your thoughts below.

Incidentally the blog might be a bit dry the next few days. Hopefully Scott will feed and water it (and therefore you ‘orrible lot) but ’tis a busy time.

Darrell Hair offered to resign as a member of the ICC’s Elite Umpires Panel in return for a payment of $500,000, Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, told a press conference near Lord’s.

Speed said Hair’s resignation letter was forwarded to Doug Cowie, the ICC’s umpire manager. A copy of that letter was also made available to the Pakistan Cricket Board.

In the letter, Hair asked for “a one-off payment to compensate for the loss of future earnings and retainer payments over the next four years, which I believe would have been the best years I have to offer ICC and world umpiring.”

Read the full story at Cricinfo.

And here’s the full email transcript which is circling its way around, well, just about every site you can think of:

From: Darrell Hair
Sent: Tuesday 22nd August 2006
To: Doug Cowie
Subject: The way forward

Doug, just to firm up what we discussed earlier this evening. I appreciate the ICC may be put in a untenable position with regards to future appointments and having taken considerable time and advice, I make this one-off, non-negotiable offer.

I am prepared to retire/stand down/relinquish my position on the elite panel to take effect from 31st August 2006 on the following terms:

1 A one-off payment to compensate the loss of future earnings and retain a payment over the next four years which I believe would have been the best years I have to offer ICC and world umpiring. This payment is be the sum of [US dollars] 500,000 (£264,000) – details of which must be kept confidential by both parties. This sum to be paid directly into my account by 31st August 2006.

2 ICC may announce the retirement in any way they wish, but I would prefer a simple ‘lifestyle choice’ as this was the very reason I moved from Australia to settle in the UK three years ago.

3 No public comment to be made by me as to possible reasons for the decision.

4 This offer in no way precludes me taking legal action and/or instigating libel suits against various sections of the electronic and print media for comments made either previously or in the future.

5 This in no way precludes me taking civil action (and exercising my rights as a resident of the UK in any court of law and by any other avenue open to me) against any organisation or persons currently part of ICC and in particular, members of the Pakistan cricket team and the Pakistan Cricket Board.

I reiterate this is a once only offer and if I fail to obtain your agreement I shall continue to be available under the terms of my current contract till March 31 2008 to fulfil umpiring appointments as and when ICC sees fit in any country at any time in any series or matches involving any affiliated teams.

I would also insist that my ongoing contracted employment continue in its current form until such time as an ICC performance assessment deems me to be no longer able to perform the duties to the high class expected of an international umpire.

Would you please let me know at your earliest convenience of your acceptance or otherwise of this offer.

Sincerely, Darrell Hair.

What a hairy mess this is.