ICC under fire as India resume troubled tour

Last updated at 22:19 09 January 2008

Former Test match referee Clive Lloyd and Australian bowling great Glenn McGrath have criticised the decision to axe umpire Steve Bucknor for the Third Test between Australia and India.

World cricket's governing body, the International Cricket Council, replaced Bucknor with Billy Bowden after India raged at the 61-year-old Jamaican's mistakes in the Second Test.

Harbhajan gets on the bus

The Indians initially refused to carry on with the tour after spin bowler Harbhajan Singh was handed a three-match ban by match referee Mike Proctor for allegedly racially abusing Andrew Symonds.

But ICC president Malcolm Speed caved in and agreed to suspend Harbhajan's punishment until after his appeal has been heard and the Indians have now arrived in Canberra for tomorrow's match against an Invitation XI.

The Third Test begins in Perth next Wednesday and, with Harbhajan's appeal unlikely to be heard until after the Fourth Test, the series should finish on time. "You wonder what confidence this gives umpires," former West Indies captain Lloyd said.

"What happens now if Billy Bowden makes a few mistakes?"

Lloyd, an ICC match referee from 2001-06, added: "I don't think anybody is out there to cheat anybody. The umpires I have had, particularly at ICC level, have been excellent. They are people who are very honest and who I trust implicitly.

"Every time something goes against you it doesn't mean the guy is cheating. Nobody is infallible. We all make mistakes and have to move on."

The ICC initially backed Bucknor to stand in Perth but reversed their stance amid increasing pressure from India, who temporarily suspended their tour.

"I am disappointed if any umpire is removed from a position because they might have made a few mistakes," West Indies manager Lloyd told Radio Five Live. "Cricket's not life or death.

"It's unfortunate that this has come in a series that has had a lot of good things in it. Cricket is about honesty, integrity and fair play. We have to accept the umpire's decision, that has always been the way."

Former Australian pace bowler McGrath also believes the ICC have made a mistake by replacing Bucknor and giving in to India's demands.

"I think it is sad and disappointing that it gets to the stage where you have a bad game and they're calling for your head," McGrath said.

"I have a lot of respect for the umpires. I think Steve's very good and I've got a lot of time for him. What are there, eight international umpires on the panel? And if a couple of teams aren't happy then all of a sudden you have got one to choose from?

"I think that's ridiculous. That's why we have the ICC, to control things rather than individual countries."

McGrath called on the Indians to forget the off-field politics and start focusing on cricket again after announcing that they would continue their tour.

"It's unbelievable where it's got to. People have got to concentrate on actually playing the game," he said.

The ICC have also charged Australian all-rounder Brad Hogg with abusive language while a mediator has been appointed to try to resolve the bitter dispute between the teams.