ICC sets deadline for BCCI to fall in line

Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2001, 3:18 [IST]
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London: Stepping up its pressure, the International Cricket council (ICC) on Tuesday set the deadline of Friday next for the Indian Cricket Board to comply with its ruling that Virender Sehwag is not eligible to play in the first Test match against England starting December 3, hinting that the match may otherwise be stripped of Test status.In a detailed six-page letter to the president of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Jagmohan Dalmiya, the ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said that the Indian batsman was not eligible to play against England at Mohali. His inclusion would be in breach of ICC's ruling. Speed noted in his letter, which was released to the media, that the ICC and BCCI were on a "collision course" which would have consequences of "great significance" for the world cricket. It was therefore important to resolve the issue of Sehwag as soon as possible to avoid further damage, he said. Making it clear that the ICC referee Denis Lindsay for the Mohali Test had been notified that Sehwag was not eligible to play there, Speed told Dalmiya, "It is vitally important that we avoid any risk of injury to the public, players or officials should the ICC referee refuse to allow Virender Sehwag to play in the match." He went on to say, "If this issue is not resolved well ahead of the match, it is possible that it will take place at the start of the match in a highly charged and volatile environment that will exacerbate risk of injury." Asking the BCCI, which had maintained on Monday that Sehwag was eligible to play at Mohali, to reconsider its stand, Speed said that he would speak to Dalmiya and then ask him to communicate by midday on Friday (Kolkata time) the Indian Board's decision. The letter contains a hint of strong action by the ICC with Speed telling Dalmiya, "It is important that the (India-England) series continue and that all matches have Test match status." On the issue of India's refusal to play anywhere with the controversial Mike Denness as the match-referee, Speed was conciliatory stating that it was ICC's policy to appoint alternate referees if there was any "reasonable objection" to anyone's appointment. This procedure would continue to be followed till April 1 next year after which a referees' panel of five would officiate in all Test matches. Deviating from its earlier stand, Speed's letter said that the Centurion Test would be considered to have been forfeited by both India and South Africa as both teams refused to play under the duly appointed match referee and the match would be regarded as having been abandoned "without play taking place". The ICC had earlier said that India would deem to have forfeited the match. Contesting Dalmiya's statement that ICC did not have the power to withdraw Test status from a match, Speed cited the relevant rule which empowers ICC to recognise a match as a Test and said, "It follows logically that if ICC is able to accord Test match status to a match, it is able to not accord that status in appropriate circumstances."

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