Call off SA tour, says angry Indian media

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2001, 21:41 [IST]
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New Delhi: India should cancel its ongoing cricket tour of South Africa following the fines and suspensions handed out to Sachin Tendulkar and five others, an Indian newspaper said on Tuesday. Reactions to the decision of match referee Mike Denness to punish the Indians during the second Test at Port Elizabeth ranged from accusations of racial bias to indignation that the nation had been insulted. The verdicts against Tendulkar, a demi-god in cricket-mad India, and the others horrified the media and officials alike. "After the disgraceful, draconian action taken by match referee Mike Denness our team should return home immediately and to hell with the consequences," a newspaper said in its editorial. "We should call off the tour to protest in the strongest possible terms against an unprecedented autocratic action, which palpably vitiates all canons of natural justice, and which will rank in the annals of the game as a heinous scandal which is as, if not more, despicable than the match-fixing drama. "The decisions are patently prejudiced, especially in the light of the repeated, intimidating appeals during the Indian innings at Port Elizabeth by South African skipper Shaun Pollock against whom no action has been taken. "Much as one hates to believe it, cricket continues to be the Brown man's burden - witness the allegations of suspect bowling action concerning Harbhajan Singh, Muthiah Muralitharan and Shoaib Akhtar." Former Test stars Ravi Shastri and Navjot Sidhu, now working as television commentators, were equally harsh on Denness, a former England captain. "He's not a match referee, but an executioner," said Sidhu. "Denness should take a dip in the Indian Ocean and cool himself," Shastri added. An Indian Website also said Denness should have also punished South African players, including Nantie Hayward, Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis, for misbehavior. "They abused Tendulkar and Sehwag in the first Test, Makhaya Ntini spat in Ganguly's direction, and Pollock swore at Laxman when the Indian was trying to pull his side out of the woods," the Website said. "If Tendulkar is guilty, then so is Pollock, if Sehwag is guilty, then so is Hayward, Ntini, Kallis, the entire South African side, which applied every tactic to put the Indians down. "If this is not racism, then what is?" the Website said. "These mindless punishments are an insult to the Indian nation."

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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