ICL: Indian Cricket League

ICC bows to demand, dumps umpire


World cricket chiefs on Tuesday scrambled to save India’s crisis-hit tour of Australia, axing a top umpire and announcing plans to fly in a top official to ease seething tensions between the two teams.

International Cricket Council (ICC) head Malcolm Speed said umpire Steve Bucknor would be replaced by Billy Bowden for the third Test in Perth following complaints from the Indian team about his performance in Sydney.

Bucknor was criticised for bungling key decisions in the explosive match which ended in accusations of bad sportsmanship and racism, overshadowing Australia’s record-equalling 16th straight Test win.

India had effectively put the four-Test tour on hold while they appealed a three-Test ban for bowler Harbhajan Singh, who was accused of racially abusing Andrew Symonds, the only black player in the Australian side.

But a senior Indian cricket official told AFP that after the ICC’s moves, the tour would continue as planned. “The tour will go on, we never said it won’t,” the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) source said. “A formal announcement will be made tonight.”

In another twist, Australia spinner Brad Hogg has been charged by the ICC with making an offensive remark to India captain Anil Kumble and vice-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the second Test in Sydney.

Hogg faces a ban of between two and four Test matches after being charged with the level three offence under the International Cricket Council’s Code of conduct which refers to abuse on the basis of a player’s “race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethic origin.”

The preliminary date for the hearing is set for January 14 in Perth, which is the venue for the third Test. The damaging row has threatened to derail one of cricket’s biggest series, at a reported cost to Cricket Australia of up to US$43.5 million in compensation payments to TV broadcasters.

Speed said ICC chief referee Ranjan Madugalle would attend the Perth Test from January 16 “to make sure the ill feeling that has evolved between the teams dissipates.”The ICC has also decided to appoint a code of conduct commissioner to adjudicate on India’s appeal against Harbhajan’s ban.

“What this does is give us an opportunity to move on,” Speed told reporters in Melbourne.“Over the last week we’ve seen the best and the worst of our game,” he admitted.India were incensed by Australia’s behaviour on Sunday’s tense final day, with captain Anil Kumble accusing the hosts of not living up to the spirit of the game.

He found an unusual ally in Australian newspapers on Tuesday, who called Ricky Ponting’s team “boorish” and “arrogant” for taunting the visitors, pressuring the umpires and indulging in ungracious victory celebrations.

However, Australia’s Mike Hussey defended Ponting and said he had the backing of his team.Speed said Harbhajan would be eligible to play while his appeal against the ban was pending, although he could give no date for the hearing.

“I believe that the final two Tests will go ahead,” he said.India continued to deny Harbhajan had called Symonds a “monkey” as the team, ordered to stay in Sydney rather than travel to Canberra as planned, took a day off to go to Bondi Beach.

Separately, 91 percent of Indian fans polled by the Hindustan Times newspaper said they wanted the team to pull out of the tour immediately.The history of matches between Australia and India is littered with controversial incidents.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who heads the ICC’s rule-making cricket committee, almost forfeited a Test match in Melbourne in 1981 before a timely intervention from the team manager.

India’s brilliant come-from-behind victory in the home series in 2001 was marred by Australian captain Steve Waugh accusing his Indian counterpart Sourav Ganguly of “disrespect” for making him wait at the toss during the series.

Monkey chants greeted Symonds during the one-day series in India last year, prompting the tourists to accuse local crowds of racist comments against the star all-rounder.Cricket-mad India accounts for an estimated 70 percent of the game’s revenues while Australia have been the dominant force in the game for more than a decade.

Source:Cricket News

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