Mike Denness and Indian cricket team incident
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The incident in question concerns cricket match referee Mike Denness, a former England player, who found six India players guilty of various offences during a Test match between India and South Africa played between 16–20 November 2001 at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth. Denness' decisions initiated protests by the Indian team.
The actions of Denness in handing punishments to six players from one team was unprecedented and the matter is still viewed with controversy in India:
- Sachin Tendulkar: suspended ban for one Test Match due to ball-tampering charges.
- Virender Sehwag: banned for one Test match due to excessive appealing.
- Sourav Ganguly: suspended ban for one Test match and two One Day Internationals due to inability to control the behaviour of his team.
- Harbhajan Singh: suspended ban for one Test match due to excessive appealing.
- Shiv Sunder Das: suspended ban for one Test match due to excessive appealing.
- Deep Dasgupta: suspended ban for one Test match due to excessive appealing.
The result of the discussions between the officials was that the third Test in the three-Test series between the teams, at SuperSport Park, Centurion, was deemed "unofficial" by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Sehwag was made to serve his one-match ban.
Denness was heavily criticised for failing to explain his actions at a press conference, thus infuriating the Indian cricket establishment and precipitating an international cricketing, political and administrative crisis.
Public outrage, "Unofficial" Test and Sehwag's ban
There was a huge outrage in India where protestors took to the streets and burnt effigies of Denness. The matter was raised in the Indian parliament, the popular press termed Denness a racist, and the ICC was accused of discriminating against the emerging Third World. The public face of the protest was ex-India cricketer and commentator Ravi Shastri, who asked at the aforementioned press conference that "If Mike Denness cannot answer questions, why is he here? We know what he looks like."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) threatened to call off its tour of South Africa unless Denness was replaced as match referee for the third Test. The ICC supported Denness but the South African board sided with the BCCI's position and replaced Denness, who was not even allowed to enter the stadium, with Denis Lindsay. Consequently, the ICC declared the match to be "unofficial" and instead classified it as a "friendly five-day match". The series was thus officially limited to the two Tests already completed, with South Africa therefore the 1–0 winners.
ICC upheld the ban on Sehwag for the subsequent Test, but overturned the bans on Tendulkar and Ganguly. The subsequent England tour to India was placed in jeopardy when India picked Sehwag in the Test squad. Subsequent to this development, the ICC issued a warning that any Test match with Sehwag in the Indian team would not be considered an official Test until Sehwag served his ban. After negotiations with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the ICC, and in the general interest of cricket, Sehwag was dropped from the team for the first Test against England.
After the incident
Mike Denness served as match referee in only two more Tests and three more One Day Internationals. These were all in the series between Pakistan and the West Indies in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, during January and February 2002.
An ICC Disputes Resolution Committee hearing headed by Michael Beloff QC, the then Chairman of the ICC Code of Conduct Commission, was scheduled to hear the case on 6–7 June 2002. But the hearing was postponed a week before its scheduled date due to the ill-health and surgery plans of Denness.
The Resolution Committee never met to decide on the merits of the cases of Denness and the Indian team as the BCCI decided to forgo the case in view of Denness' heart surgery.
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- "Cricket outrage unites Indians". BBC News. 23 November 2001. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
- Shastri, Ravi. "rediff.com: cricket channel: Quotes on the Mike Denness controversy". Rediff.com. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
- "ICC praised Denness' stand against gamesmanship in cricket, and ruled out replacing him for the final Test". Cricinfo. 21 November 2001. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
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- "India name Sehwag in 14-member squad for Mohali Test". Cricinfo. 27 November 2001. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
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- "ICC disputes resolution Committee deferred". Cricinfo. 31 May 2002. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
- "India to 'forget' Mike Denness affair". Cricinfo. 22 June 2003. Retrieved 2 April 2007.