UCBSA decision is anarchy: British media
Published: Friday, November 23, 2001, 19:15 [IST]
ICC rejects Denness' removal
Jagmohan Dalmiya rubbishes ICC's threat
Lindsay will replace Denness: BCCI
London: The defiance of International Cricket Council by Indian and South African cricket authorities triggered an angry condemnation in the UK with the British media suggesting that world cricket was heading towards "anarchy" and facing the biggest threat since Kerry Packer unleashed the World Series cricket 24 years ago.The eventual fragmentation of the London-based ICC itself loomed as a distinct possibility with the dispute over the ban of the match referee Mike Denness by the two cricket authorities having the "explosive potential of the Anglo-Australian row over bodyline bowling in 1932-33", British media reports said on Friday. Officials of the two Boards with the support of their governments agreed to overrule on Thursday the ICC directive that its appointed referee Denness will remain in control of the match despite Indian fury at the harsh punishment meted out to six Indian cricketers including Sachin Tendulkar for match offences. "The ramifications of this week's events are serious and could exacerbate the splits in the game that appeared from the moment that Jagmohan Dalmiya forced the ICC to switch the staging of the 1987 world cup from England to India and Pakistan," said 'Times' chief cricket correspondent Christopher Martin-Jenkins. The 'Telegraph' gave its own spin on the reasons for "unceremonious removal" of Denness saying "political and financial considerations outweighed the Laws of the game". "The action jointly taken by the cricket Boards of India and South Africa are, at worst "mutinous". Carrying the headline "Dalmiya and South Africans deserve each other", the 'Telegraph' said if the ICC is serious about the latest controversy it will punish South Africa as strongly as possible. "It is probably too late to strip it (South Africa) of the World Cup but it must be made an example of, otherwise the game will be seen to endorse anarchy," it said. The 'Telegraph' went on to say, "It hasn't taken Jagmohan Dalmiya very long to reveal his complete unsuitability for any post within the world of cricket. Nor is he alone. In a quite disgraceful and unprecedented display of unwarranted brotherhood, the UCBSA has conspired to undermine the authority of the ICC, and the consequences of their treachery cannot be underestimated." In vitriolic comments, the 'Telegraph' further said the South African cricket authorities have "meekly" acquiesced in the face of threats from the Indian Board and have wounded the game more than they know. "Instead of supporting Denness, it (UCBSA) has sided with a partial witness and opted to get a Test match going for political and financial reasons," it commented. Noting that the Denness issue was "serious" for international cricket in its own right, 'The Guardian' said it may yet be seen to be the thin end of a very large wedge that ICC's new chief Malcolm Speed will do well to keep down to manageable proportions. "Whether his decisions were right, wrong or inconsistent, Denness cannot be faulted for carrying out the edict, though the imposition of suspended sentences might be deemed insufficiently high," it observed in its column titled "Dalmiya and the threat of breakaway". The paper said the possible repercussions of the Denness issue go deeper still and posed a question whether all officials appointed by the ICC including the elite match referees can be vetoed at a whim, financial penalties to the cricket Board notwithstanding. The 'Guardian' further said the impetus to remove Denness "came from the top" in the context of what it said India being South Africa's main trading partner and President Thabo Mbeki"s "worries" about the damage to relations between the two countries. "At a meeting of the South African Cabinet on Thursday that took place in Mbeki's office, the President made it clear to his Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour that he had to do whatever was necessary to make India happy," the paper noted. The 'Independent' said cricket in South Africa on Thursday was a "matter of governmental concern" while the 'Times' noted that the UCBSA in an unprecedented decision apparently came under pressure from the Pretoria government on siding with India in banning Denness as match referee for the third and final Test starting.