BCCI stand puts game on brink of war

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi: World cricket was on the brink of a civil war on Wednesday as India continued to challenge the authority of the sport's governing body over the Mike Denness affair. Fears of a split among the 10 Test-playing nations became real after India's irrepressible cricket chief Jagmohan Dalmiya threatened to boycott the Referees Commission appointed by the International Cricket Council (ICC). "This could snowball into a major crisis, perhaps even causing a split in the cricket world," a veteran administrator told reporters. The three-man Commission is scheduled to meet in Johannesburg on February 23 to probe, among other things, whether match referee Denness was justified in penalising six Indian cricketers, including superstar Sachin Tendulkar, in South Africa in November. An incensed Dalmiya forced South Africa to dump Denness, an ICC appointee, for the next Test, forcing the governing body to declare the match unofficial. Against India's wishes, the ICC named two former cricketers, Majid Khan of Pakistan and Andrew Hilditch of Australia, and Justice Albie Sachs of South Africa on the Commission. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), however, rejected these men and instead nominated former Test captains Richie Benaud and Ian Chappell, both from Australia, and Imran Khan from Pakistan, as well as Justice Ahmed Ibrahim of Zimbabwe. The ICC turned down India's request, forcing Dalmiya, himself a former ICC president, to issue his latest warning. The BCCI wants the Commission be either put on hold till the ICC executive meeting in Colombo in March or a new commission be formed comprising each of the 10 Test-playing nations. "If these alternatives are still not acceptable to ICC, we will be reluctantly compelled to refrain from participating in the referees' commission in any form or manner," Dalmiya said. He objects specifically to the appointment of Justice Sachs, saying a South African had no place on the Commission since that country's Board was also a party to the investigation. "That's why we did not nominate our own Sunil Gavaskar, who is the head of the ICC's cricket committee," Dalmiya said. Observers warned that the ICC should not take Dalmiya's latest threat lightly. "The Commission will be of no use if India does not accept its recommendations," an Indian cricket official said. "The ICC should have accepted some of India's nominees since it has promised to consult India before the names were finalised. "This latest move by Dalmiya is a masterstroke because he feels confident that a majority of the 10 Test-playing nations will be on his side," the official said. BCCI sources said England, Australia and New Zealand were probably the only nations that will support the ICC in a vote. Even bitter rivals Pakistan will support Dalmiya's campaign, the official predicted. "The Pakistan cricket Board (PCB) needs India's help to demand compensation from the ICC for the cancellation of Test matches in that country. It is bound to side with Dalmiya," he said. The ICC is expected to rule on India's latest challenge soon.

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