Bucknor replaced by ICC
The ICC have completed a dramatic u-turn after replacing umpire Steve Bucknor for the third Test between Australia and India.
By Tony Curtis
Last Updated: 08/01/08 9:08pm
The International Cricket Council have completed a dramatic u-turn after replacing umpire Steve Bucknor for the third Test between Australia and India.
India have welcomed the decision and now look likely to continue with their Tour, meaning the third Test in Perth should go ahead next week.
Having classed the umpiring performances of Bucknor and Mark Benson in the controversial second Test as "incompetent", India had asked for the West Indian not to officiate in Perth.
However, after initially refusing the request the ICC have now decided to replace Bucknor with New Zealander Billy Bowden.
The ICC have defended their decision by claiming that Bucknor's presence would be counter-productive, while they have also cleared Harbhajan Singh to play while he waits for his appeal for a three-match ban to be heard.
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said: "It is accepted that Steve, and his on-field colleague Mark Benson, did not have good games by their very high standards and we feel that given the added pressure and attention Steve's presence would have at the third Test, it is better for the match and for Steve himself if he does not take part.
"It is important to stress that Steve has not been replaced due to any representations made by any team or individuals.
"The ICC remains the sole body responsible for the appointment of umpires and no team has the right to object to any appointment.
"The decision by the ICC to replace Steve for this match was made in the best interests of the game and the series."
Speed has also confirmed that the ICC has received India's official appeal concerning Harbhajan, who was found guilty by match referee Mike Proctor of calling Andrew Symonds a 'monkey'.
Harbhajan is free to continue playing until his appeal is heard - and although no date for the hearing has been set, a commissioner will be named by Wednesday.
Meanwhile chief referee Ranjan Madugalle has been appointed to act as a peace maker in a bid to see the tour go ahead.
Speed added: "We are bringing Ranjan in as a facilitator in an effort to prevent any ill-feeling that may have been present at the Sydney Test from rolling over to Perth.
"Ranjan is our chief referee and a highly respected figure within the game. He will remind the captains and other players of their responsibilities to conduct themselves in line with the spirit of cricket."
Sharad Pawar, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said he was grateful to the ICC for removing Bucknor from the third Test.
"Definitely I'm happy," he told NDTV. "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 ICC has taken this decision and removed him. The Indian board is quite happy about that."
Pawar added that the BCCI's management committee are now considering the latest developments before deciding on their next course of action.