The cricket world divides

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The Independent Online

Days after effigies of match referee Mike Denness were burnt in the streets of Calcutta, reaction in the wake of the events of the week was still smouldering. In newspapers, on radio and TV, and in internet columns and polls.

In Australia, home of the ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, the view of yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald was that the Indian board president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, "has gone too far". It said: "Dalmiya has turned his back on all that and he has taken his country with him... by refusing to accept Denness, the Indians have alienated Westerners sympathetic to their point of view. Doubtless Dalmiya's stance will be welcomed at home but this is popularity gained at a price."

The Times of India preferred to concentrate on the fact Denness had accused Sachin Tendulkar of ball-tampering. Yesterday's newspaper said: "In a game overrun by match-fixing, sledging, and you-blinked-first tactics, very few can claim to be cricket's true heroes. In the distinguished gallery of Sir Don Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell and others, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has a permanent place.

"Now ball-tampering has enveloped the sub-continent, every Indian fan is ready to prove that Sachin is what he is: the game's gentleman."

In South Africa, the Durban Tribune carried an editorial criticising the involvement of the ruling ANC government in ordering the removal of Denness. "In South Africa, where sports administrators do as they are told lest they fall foul of political interests, logic does not enter into it, superseded by the zeal to maintain political affiliations. By supporting the government the UCB did itself no favours."

In a poll on CricInfo, more than 2,000 votes were cast to the question: Should the Centurion match be regarded as an official Test? More than 57.1 per cent said yes.

On the site, Woorkheri Raman, a former Indian Test player, says: "The ICC as always has shown how reluctant it is to take any kind of action based on reason or fair play. The BCCI should be appreciated for the stand it took and it was time the bubble burst. That the UCB asked Denness to step down is a fierce slap on the face of the ICC, which goes to show how strong the international cricket body is."