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  Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 18:00 GMT
Career of controversial referee
Mike Denness at Lord's
Mike Denness has been a match referee since 1995
BBC Sport Online traces the career of Mike Denness, the match referee caught up in controversy with India in South Africa.

It is ironic that Mike Denness, the man at centre of the match referee controversy in South Africa, is also the co-founder of a public relations consultancy.

Denness is more famous, though, for being part of a Kent side that dominated county cricket in the 1970s, and as England skipper in the first ever World Cup in 1975.

Uniquely for an England captain, Denness was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1940.

Denness plaed for Kent, Essex and England
Denness made 25,886 first class runs
He made his Kent debut in 1962 and became part of one of the country's strongest opening pairs, alongside Brian Luckhurst.

Under his captaincy from 1972 to '76 the club won the John Player League three times, the Benson and Hedges Cup twice and the Gillette Cup once.

He amassed 25,886 runs in his first class career (including 33 centuries) and took 411 catches.

He played in 28 Test matches for England, including a Test series in India, which the home side won 2-1.

But in 19 matches as captain he was criticised heavily for his unimaginative approach and unpredictable form with the bat.

His leadership began in the West Indies, with England coming back from 1-0 down to tied the series in the fifth and final Test.

Denness was then at the helm for a 3-0 whitewash of India in England, making two of his four Test centuries in consecutive matches, both innings victories.
Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and Mike Denness
Denness (right) has officiated in 32 Tests

But he was unlucky to be the man at the helm for the Ashes tour of 1974/75 when, faced by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in their pomp, England stumbled to a 3-1 defeat.

He was Wisden cricketer of the year the following summer, leading England to the semi-finals of the inaugural World Cup.

But, after an innings defeat to Australia at Edgbaston, he was replaced as captain by Tony Grieg.

Since retiring from the county game after a spell at Essex, he returned to the Kent committee rooms and was appointed club chairman last March.

He acted as an ICC match referee for the first time in 1995 and has since stood in 12 Tests and 32 one-day internationals.

He may not have brought protesters onto the streets to burn his effigy before, but Denness is no stranger to controversy.

Street protests in Delhi
Protesters back Tendulkar over Denness
His visits to county grounds as ECB pitch liason officer over the past two seasons have seen points docked for unfit pitches, with Derbyshire protesting vigorously in 2000.

As a match referee in the Caribbean earlier this year, he criticised the West Indies for slow batting which salvaged a draw with South Africa.

But he did not punish the home side, even though he had the power to impose fines.

But it will be in the heat of this controversy that his skills as a PR man will be most needed.

 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"

Sports Talk SPORTS TALK
Referee Mike Denness' decisions outraged the Indian authorities Cricket row
Are Indian officials right to take a stand?
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