~~Replace Denness or keep his decisions in abeyance~~
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2001, 1:15 [IST]
Match referee's action smacks of racial bias
'Tendulkar won't do something silly'
Conspiracy theories have a field day
Indians should weigh legal options: Experts
Kolkata: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday evening described the harsh punishment meted out to six Indian cricketers now touring South Africa as 'inconsistent' and demanded that ICC should either replace Mike Denness as match referee for the third Test or keep his decisions in abeyance."The decisions of the match referee can be best described as being inconsistent targeted against only one participating team," BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya told reporters in Kolkata. He said that the Board secretary Niranjan Shah met ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, now in Mumbai, on Tuesday and demanded that Denness be replaced for the third Test. "Alternatively, the match referee's decisions should be kept in abeyance and be judged by a neutral panel consisting of reputed persons," Dalmiya said. Dalmiya said that Speed had assured that he would speak to ICC president Malcolm Gray and intimate the response to the BCCI by Wednesday. When asked about the BCCI's next step, he said, "We are awaiting the ICC's response before deciding our future course of action." The BCCI has informed the ICC that in place of Denness it would welcome any ICC panel referee even from South Africa to officiate in the third Test beginning November 23 in Centurion Park. "If no panel referee was available, any former cricketer of repute is acceptable to us," Dalmiya said. Rallying behind the team, Dalmiya said that the punitive measures were not only shocking to the Indian team, but also to the BCCI. "It's most unfortunate that the decisions have been targetted against only one team. I don't know whether that is due to coincidence or by design," he added. Dalmiya, who had a detailed telephonic conversation with the team management including skipper Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar on Monday night, said that at this moment the team was very disturbed. "At this juncture, it feels that it may not get fair decisions and judgement and hence was unwilling to take to the field on Tuesday. But I persuaded it to get on with the game by making them understand that this will be a very harsh decision for the South African public and the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA)," he said. The BCCI president praised the team on its performance on the concluding day of the Test saying, "I am happy that it is fighting it out. It's application on Tuesday is praiseworthy." The BCCI chief informed that once the day's play was over, the Indian team would sit together and send him a detailed report on the events leading to the penalisation. Dalmiya said that he also spoke to Speed in the evening and conveyed to him the sentiment of the team. "I also told Speed that there was some lacunae in the procedure followed by Denness," he added. Dalmiya gave clear hints that the BCCI would press for the revocation of the punishment, citing an earlier instance of revocation of punishment given by the match referee involving Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar. "I had faced a similar situation as ICC president when Akhtar was punished and I ordered the revocation of his punishment because the procedure was not properly followed," Dalmiya said adding that, "My decision was later approved by the ICC Executive Board." Asked whether the incident called for a fresh evaluation of the role of match referee, Dalmiya said, "I don't believe that just because the system has been abused, the system is bad." When asked to spell out the inconsistencies in Denness' decision, Dalmiya said that it was not yet clear whether he had acted suo motu or on the basis of any complaint. "But this is very important for all these guys to defend themselves." Secondly, the match referee's meeting with Tendulkar in the presence of the umpires was adjourned without giving any reason, Dalmiya said. "He is required to give reasons to the team within 48 hours." Moreover, Dalmiya asserted that while Denness said on Monday morning he saw the ball after 75 overs, in the evening he changed his stand and claimed that he had checked it after 22 overs. "The umpires had said that they saw no change in the shape of the ball. But in evening, Denness claimed that the umpires had told him that the ball's shape had changed. But Denness never cared to call the umpires again." When asked whether he felt that only non-white nations were at the receiving end of such decisions, Dalmiya said "You are trying to put words into my mouth."