Rands 40 million cost ICC UCBSA support
Published: Sunday, November 25, 2001, 18:28 [IST]
ECB comes out in support of ICC
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Centurion Park (South Africa): Before throwing its lot with India, the South African Board had offered to follow the directives of the International Cricket Council (ICC) provided it was paid Rands 40 million, it was revealed on Sunday.New details of behind the scenes drama that preceded the removal of Mike Denness as the match-referee for the third India-South Africa game show that the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) was compelled by financial and political reasons to side with India in its stand-off with the ICC. In an interview UCBSA chief executive Gerald Majola disclosed that he had told ICC chief executive officer Malcolm Speed, "If the ICC can pay me Rands 40 million, I am willing to abide by you". This was because cancellation of the match would have cost UCBSA $ 3 million without taking into account the expenses for legal suits by television companies, which would have followed. Majola also disclosed that a nervous Denness had been given the option of voluntarily stepping down from his position but he had declined to do so after talking to ICC president Malcolm Gray. And despite Indian Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya's assertion that both India and South Africa were treating the game as a proper Test match, Majola said UCBSA was according it an unofficial status. "We are not going to fight to make it official. If it happens, it would not be because we want it so," he said. Majola also admitted that UCBSA was under political pressure not to antagonise India. "The Sports Minister rang me up on the day of this stand-off to express concern about the demonstration outside South African embassy in India. India is South Africa's strongest trading power." "We were caught up in a situation where we had to make a decision whether there is a match or no match. Our objective was to save the game." Majola said the matter worsened due to the rigid stand taken by ICC, which he felt had "lost face" and "suffered the maximum damage." "They thought they were strong but I think they have lost ground here by being unflexible. The system has been proven wrong," he said. The ICC could have said they are appointing a review committee." The UCBSA official said he had requested Denness, who had been asked to be provided 24-hour security by ICC following the incident, to "do the honourable thing" by quitting on his own. Majola asked Denness to do himself "a favour" and say he was unable to "handle the pressure" and the situation was not "conducive" for him to be match-referee. Denness initially told Majola he would consider the option but after speaking to Gray he said he could not "disappoint" the ICC president. Majola said he understood India's position in demanding the removal of Denness. "They must have felt it is not a Test if Denness remains." He found Denness' decision against Sachin Tendulkar "funny" considering that the ground umpires never made any complaint. "I spoke to Denness after that and said if Sachin Tendulkar was tampering with the ball, the South African innings was only 19 overs old and he could have an inspection of the ball through the umpires. Why do it after the end of day's play when 75 or more overs have been bowled and you can't tell if the ball was really tampered. "I spoke to the two umpires as well and they said they didn't find anything to report. They didn't even warn anyone. Even a few of our guys went overboard but there was no action taken against them. "I said all this to Denness but he said he knew his job and all that," Majola said.