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banner Friday, 23 November, 2001, 08:30 GMT
Unofficial Test gets underway
A crowd in New Delhi burns an effigy of match referee Mike Denness
An effigy of Denness is burnt in the streets of Delhi
India and South Africa begin a five day match at Centurion Park on Friday, knowing that it will not be considered a Test.

Clicket here for scorecard

The two countries set up a direct confrontation with the ICC after agreeing to replace controversial match referee Mike Denness for the match.

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly will not play, having reportedly suffered back spasms overnight.

And batsman Virender Sehwag, banned by Denness for one Test, has been replaced in the lineup.


It would not be officiated by an ICC referee or umpire and neither the result nor statistics would be included in Test match records
ICC chief Malcolm Speed

Under pressure from the Indian board and the South African government the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) agreed to bring in home referee Denis Lindsay.

The former England captain came under fire on Tuesday when he meted out fines and bans to six Indian players.

But in a statement on the eve of the match, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed repeated his backing for Denness and rejected the replacement plan.

"No cricket board has the authority to remove Mr Denness from his position as match referee," said Speed.

"To remove him under this kind of pressure would be to disregard the rules agreed by all member countries and set an unacceptable future precedent."

No sanction

Speed said that any match without Denness as referee would not be sanctioned by the ICC.

"It would not be recognised by the ICC as a Test match.

"It would not be officiated by an ICC referee or umpire and neither the result nor statistics would be included in Test match records," he went on.

The UCBSA had said it would deny Denness access to the match referee's position at the ground.

But Denness said he would not seek a confrontation with ground officials.

Match referee Mike Denness
Denness will be locked out if he does not stand down
UCBSA chief executive Gerald Majola said that he had been told India would not take the field if Denness was standing as referee.

"I cannot really say anything at this stage, but it's disappointing. I certainly won't be going to the ground tomorrow [Friday]," Denness said.

And the board had been instructed by South African sports minister Ngconde Balfour to take whatever action was necessary to ensure that the match went ahead.

Neutral umpire George Sharp has been replaced by South African Dave Orchard, who will stand alongside originally-slated home official Rudi Koertzen. Brian Jerling will become the third umpire.

"We must remember that this is no longer an ICC Test match," UCBSA director of cricket operations Brian Basson said.

India stand firm

Jagmohan Dalmiya, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), confirmed at a news conference on Thursday that the match would go on as scheduled.

The controversial BCCI boss said that both India and South Africa felt the match would qualify as a Test.

"The ICC did not understand the seriousness of the situation," Dalmiya said. The decisions were extraordinarily harsh. We needed some accommodation."

Six punished

The controversy began when Sachin Tendulkar, and five other Indian players, received punishments from Denness on Tuesday.

Television pictures show Tendulkar with the ball
The ban was imposed based on this TV evidence
Tendulkar received a suspended ban for ball-tampering based on television evidence.

Captain Sourav Ganguly was also found guilty of failing to control his players, and four other players were punished for excessive appealing.

The decision caused a furore in India, with street demonstrations in New Delhi and calls from parliament to pull out of the tour if Denness' decisions were proven to have been racially motivated.

But Speed said that the punishments would stand.

He added that Test ban handed to Virender Sehwag for excessive appealing would now apply to the first Test match against England in Mohali in December.

The cost of cancelling the Test has been estimated at 35million rand (2.5million).

"South African cricket and the South African public in general cannot afford the cancellation of this Test match," the UCBSA statement said.

"Although the crisis has not been of our making, we have received reports of protests at South African embassies in India and our country has been caught up in this issue."

Former Test wicket-keeper Denis Lindsay, 62, has been on the ICC referees panel for 18 months.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Pat Murphy -
"This represents victory for India's players and administrators"
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed
"Mike Denness' appointment will stand"
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