Sydney row: Diplomatic crises averted, says ICC

Published: Thursday, January 10, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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New Delhi: The International Cricket Council (ICC) averted a political and diplomatic crisis by defusing the Sydney Test row between India and Australia, ICC President Ray Mali said on Wednesday.

The governing body denied it caved in to a demand from the BCCI in removing umpire Steve Bucknor, whose decisions were criticised in the Test which the hosts won by 122 runs to go 2-0 up in the series.

India suspended the tour, angered over a three-Test ban on spinner Harbhajan Singh for alleged racial abuse during the game and resumed only after ICC made significant concessions.

"We recognised from the outset that the umpiring in the second Test was not up to the standards we expect from the Elite Panel," ICC president Mali said.

"We noted with concern the enormous reaction to it and realised that we could potentially have a serious international diplomatic incident on our hands," he said in a statement.

"By standing Steve down for the third Test we have successfully defused the situation, at least for the time being, and so what was a sporting issue has not become a political crisis.

The West Indies board has called Bucknor's sacking an 'extreme' step that could set a dangerous precedent.

Mali said: "We could easily have taken an inflexible stance and gone toe-to-toe with those who were calling for Steve's withdrawal but instead we chose to adopt a more diplomatic and reasonable approach.

"And on balance it was the right thing to do, for the game and for the series.

"Over the past few days there have been too many emotive comments from too many people and it's now time for the focus to return to the cricket."

He said Bucknor's removal had no connection with Harbhajan's ban and urged all parties to accept the verdict of Harbhajan's appeal which will be heard soon.

The Indian board has threatened to call off the tour if Harbhajan, who denies the charge, is not exonerated.


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