London: Former British premier John Major had once appreciated his abilities to sell a date-palm to an Arab but last week's developments have shown that BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya could not pull wool over the eyes of the Melbourne lawyer and ICC chief executive officer Malcolm Speed, the Sunday Times said.
"Jagmohan Dalmiya knew he had lost his high-stakes game of poker with the International Cricket Council (ICC) the moment he was offered a face-to-face meeting in Kuala Lumpur. Bluffing all along, the BCCI president had no cards left to play and threw in his hand," the newspaper said.
"Shortly before midnight on Thursday, he made a phone call from Kolkata to London to say he was unable to reach Malaysia for the crisis talks, scheduled for last morning, because his visa had expired.
"It was a rare admission of weakness. Anybody of influence in India can easily obtain new papers from the foreign office within 24 hours, especially somebody who only the week before had been assured of the full backing of his government. He indicated that a deal to save England's tour of India could be done by phone instead and the way was paved for a victory for the world governing body that everybody with the game's best interests at heart should celebrate," the newspaper's columnist Simon Wilde said.
In publicly announcing the peace deal on Friday, Speed, the Australian-raised chief executive of the ICC, tried hard not to gloat, but the Establishment's relief was almost audible, the newspaper said.
The newspaper quoted ICC president Malcolm Gray as saying no concessions had been made to Dalmiya but blamed The BCCI chief for claiming so.
Asked whether Dalmiya had secured significant concessions, Gray was defiant. We will never move away from proper practice, he said. The paper said it believed "Gray was right."
For, even before Speed opened his address, Dalmiya was talking to reporters on home territory. While he had accepted that Virender Sehwag, the Indian player whose one-match suspension in South Africa by Mike Denness, the match referee, was at the centre of the stand-off, would not play in Monday's first Test in Mohali, he claimed to have got his way on a number of issues.
"Only in respect of one was he actually correct. The ICC had agreed to set up a commission (which must report by the end of next month) to review the procedure by which match referees operate, including whether referees themselves should be accountable for their decisions and whether teams warrant the right of appeal against any punishments."
Dalmiya's "other demands" were not acknowledged including revocation of suspended sentence imposed on Sachin Tendulkar for a technical infringement of the law relating to altering the conditions of the ball and that the match at Centurion be given back official status."Considering the way Dalmiya had conducted himself earlier, there was no doubt he had climbed down. Then he had threatened to take his team home mid-series if the South Africans did not support his stance, as they so often do. The South Africans duly went for money," it said.