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ICC replaces umpire Bucknor for Perth Test

S. Ram Mahesh

Pawar pleased that Harbhajan could now play in third Test; tour will continue

CANBERRA: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday announced steps to facilitate the smooth running of the remainder of the Test series between India and Australia.

The governing body will replace umpire Steve Bucknor with Billy Bowden for the third Test, scheduled to start in Perth on January 16. Bowden will stand with Asad Rauf, who was originally appointed for the Test.

The pair will also officiate in the final Test at Adelaide as scheduled.

ICC chief referee Ranjan Madugalle will travel to Perth to help match referee Mike Procter and the two captains re-establish an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual respect.

The ICC also confirmed that it has received an official notification from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) of its appeal against the finding that Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was guilty of making a racist remark to Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds.

A Code of Conduct Commissioner will be named to hear the appeal, though it’s unlikely that the hearing will take place before the third Test. According to the Code of Conduct regulations, Harbhajan, who had received a three-Test ban, may continue to play pending the verdict of the appeal.

The BCCI had asked for the removal of Bucknor from the third Test, but ICC Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed said in a statement that the umpire “was not replaced due to any representations made by any team or individuals” but “in the best interests of the game and the series.”

Pawar thanks ICC

Special Correspondent from Chennai writes:

Meanwhile, BCCI president Sharad Pawar appreciated the ICC for replacing umpire Bucknor for the third Test.

Mr. Pawar told reporters: “We had appealed to the ICC to review the performance of the umpires in the last two matches and take appropriate action. I’m grateful that the ICC has taken this decision and removed him [Bucknor].”

He denied the cash-rich BCCI had exerted any pressure on the ICC. Said Mr. Pawar: “Let me make it clear that it is the prerogative of the ICC whether ‘A’ or ‘B’ should be appointed or should continue or discontinue as an umpire. So it is solely an ICC decision. Our request was only that they should review the performance of the umpires.”

The Board chief was also pleased that Harbhajan could now play in Perth. “Malcolm Speed had made it clear that there was no problem in Harbhajan playing and he would play in the next match against Australia,” he said.

Mr. Pawar added: “We have contacted Mr. Speed and he made it clear that in principle, ICC is going to appoint a Commissioner [Code of Conduct].When the Commissioner fixes a date for hearing…I hope there would be an opportunity for the Indian Board and Harbhajan to put our views through the lawyers.”

Hogg charged

On a day of developments, Australian spinner Brad Hogg was charged under Level 3 of the ICC Code of Conduct for alleged verbal abuse of India skipper Anil Kumble and vice-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the second Test.

An ICC press release said the preliminary date for hearing has been set for January 14 in Perth under match referee Procter.

BCCI’s Working Committee, which met in New Delhi on Tuesday, said India’s tour of Australia would continue but would be reviewed by the Board “continuously.”

Board Treasurer N. Srinivasan, reading out a statement, said, “The BCCI is of the categorical view that the matter will have to be finally resolved and the unfair allegation made against an Indian player be set aside.”