India certain of Test status for third tie
Published: Friday, November 23, 2001, 22:08 [IST]
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New Delhi: India took another swipe at the authority of the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday, saying the controversial third Test against South Africa would regain official status. "This is already an official Test as far as we are concerned, whatever the ICC may say," sources in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said. "We don't want a confrontation with the ICC, but if it came to that we will not be found wanting." The joint decision by India and South Africa to sack ICC-appointed match referee Mike Denness for the third Test prompted the sport's world governing body to declare the match unofficial. The unprecedented happenings raised fears of a volatile split in the cricketing world with Indian chief Jagmohan Dalmiya ranged against the body he once headed. "What is the ICC?," thundered Dalmiya. "The ICC consists of all the Board members and in a Democratic process, the majority decision should prevail. One or two cannot decide on such issues." ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed immediately disagreed, warning Dalmiya, "I disagree with him. I believe I can (do it) and I have done it, with the authority of the president of the ICC." The irrepressible Indian cricket chief debunked the notion that a match referee was a vital part of the game. "Suppose a referee is sick or absent, will the status of a match change from official to unofficial?", Dalmiya asked. "We only tried to tell the ICC that these are extraordinary circumstances. The decisions by Denness were extraordinarily harsh. The team was upset and so we needed a little accommodation." India is confident it will win the battle to recognise the Centurion Test as an official match when the ICC's Executive Board meets in Colombo for three days from March 16, 2002. "If it comes to a vote, Dalmiya will win hands down," a BCCI source said. It appears Dalmiya is confident of at least seven of the 10 Test-playing nations voting for him. Only England, Australia and New Zealand are expected to go the other way." It is significant that Dalmiya called up his Pakistani counterpart Tauqir Zia to seek support, and reportedly got it. Fears that Sri Lanka will break away from the Asian front after offering to replace India for a fourth Test in England next summer were immediately discounted by Dalmiya backers. "Sri Lanka has always supported India in cricketing matters and will continue to do so," they said. "Asia will never be divided in cricket." BCCI officials did not rule out an emergency meeting of the ICC taking place before March to discuss the issue. When the matter is tabled, officials will have a precedent to go by. An unofficial match between Australia and New Zealand in Wellington in 1946 was granted Test status - a year later.