London: The International Cricket Council (ICC) warned on Friday that the game risked descending into anarchy if it was not allowed to appoint match officials.The comments came as South Africa and India ploughed on with their unofficial Test match at Centurion Park, a match stripped of its Test status by the ICC after the hosts acceded to India's demand that the game go ahead without match referee Mike Denness. The former England captain had angered India with a series of decisions in the second Test after he handed out suspended bans to six of their players including one for ball-tampering against leading batsman and national hero Sachin Tendulkar. Such was the furore in India that effigies of Denness were burnt on the streets and their Board said they would refuse to take the field if the 60-year-old former Kent captain was the match referee. In a statement the ICC said, "The fundamental issue at stake is the right of the ICC, as the world governing body for cricket, to appoint referees and umpires, and for those officials to make decisions which are respected by both players and Boards. "Without this right, the sport could descend into anarchy." It continued, "The ICC has made it very clear that it wants to see improved standards of on-field behaviour for the good of the game as a whole. "All Test captains were notified of this intention, in writing, by chief executive Malcolm Speed. The captains in the South Africa versus India series were reminded of their responsibilities by Mike Denness before the series began." The ICC went on to defend Denness' actions. "It is also important to understand that Mike Denness did not make these decisions in isolation, with the exception of Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly, the other four players were reported by the umpires, one a South African, the other a Zimbabwean. "It would have been very easy for the ICC to have replaced Mike Denness with an alternative referee and thereby ducked this issue, but that would have set a very dangerous precedent. "Thereafter, any country not happy with an umpire or referee for whatever reason could have chosen to refuse to play a match. Clearly this would be an untenable situation. "The ICC will not speculate on future developments, but is determined that the disciplinary action will stand."
| Copyright AFP 2001 |