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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 15:18 GMT
Ganguly pays heavy price
By Oliver Brett

Sourav Ganguly
Ganguly's lengthy deliberations had twice irked the ICC before

Almost a full day after the Calcutta one-day international against Pakistan, news filtered through that Sourav Ganguly had been banned for two Tests.

It was a steep penalty for the Indian captain to face, and means he will play no part in the home series against South Africa.

Many questioned whether the Indian captain deserved such a severe rap over the knuckles.

"We feel the decision is too harsh," was the verdict of the Indian Board's recently elected president Ranbir Mahendra.

The reason for Ganguly's punishment was that his team had taken too long to bowl their overs.

Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of the action taken by match referee Clive Lloyd, as far as Indian supporters are concerned, is that Pakistan were in no way put at a disadvantage by Ganguly's perceived delaying tactics.

They knew they always had a full 50 overs to chase down the Indian total, and in the end they got to 293 fairly comfortably.

In Ganguly's defence, the thick November dew that descended after dusk meant the ball had to be changed eight times and dried on numerous occasions.

Lloyd did make some allowance but ruled the Indian skipper was still too slow in making decisions and organising his players, and as he was on probation for a similar misdemeanour he had to be banned.

There still seems to be, however, some inconsistencies in the interpretations of the slow over-rate law.

In the ICC Champions Trophy final at The Oval in September, West Indies went way past the cut-off time.

Lunch was curtailed but Brian Lara's men did not receive any deduction in overs faced when they went out to bat, although they did have to cope with rapidly fading light as they edged home against England in a thrilling climax.

Alec Stewart and Desmond Haynes
In 1990, Windies captain Desmond Haynes got away with a draw

But ICC spokesman Brendan McClements, asked if certain match referees take a tougher line than others, insists: "I don't think that's right.

"There's a set-down allowance that's given to teams and it's applied evenly across the board. There were a number of stoppages in the Champions Trophy final - talking about the light, offering it to the batsmen."

Often it is in Test matches, rather than one-day internationals, where delaying tactics are used to more cynical effect.

England's remarkable win in Karachi in 2000 was achieved despite Moin Khan's best efforts - the umpires allowing play to continue in the dark was their way of punishing the Pakistani captain.

In the final stages, fielders on the boundary simply could not see where Graham Thorpe was hitting the ball but it was generally felt justice was done when England won.

But in Trinidad in 1990, England needed just 151 to win on the final day.

Showers and bad light played a part but it was still a farce that just 33 overs were bowled before the teams agreed on a draw with England 120-5 and Graham Gooch nursing a broken hand.

In the more organised world of today where an ICC code of conduct and neutral umpires are in place, the actions of West Indies captain Desmond Haynes on that day would never have been tolerated.

Karachi skippers fined
14 Mar 04 |  International Teams
Ganguly hit with fine
23 Jan 04 |  Cricket

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