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ICC continues to grope in the dark
- In a U-turn, Saturday’s Executive Board meeting in Dubai gets cancelled

Calcutta: The International Cricket Council (ICC) continues to grope in the dark, unable to handle the potentially very destructive Pakistan versus Darrell Hair showdown.

In fact, from the time Match Referee Mike Procter didn’t intervene at The Oval last Sunday, it has cut a sorry figure.

A Match Referee is the ICC’s man on-the-spot.

The latest decision (cancelling the Executive Board meeting in Dubai on Saturday), bearing president Percy Sonn’s signature, diminished the world body’s standing even more.

It came some 72 hours after the meeting — with a single-point agenda of giving an “update” to members — was announced. Now, a host of administrators, including India’s Inderjit Singh Bindra, must make other plans for the weekend!

Sonn’s statement justifying the cancellation was released late on Monday, but having a legal background, he ought to have realised the implications three days ago.

To say “the original intention was to seek legal advice concerning the Executive Board’s powers, but I do not believe it is necessary to obtain that advice. We have processes in place to deal with Code of Conduct matters and we should not seek to interfere with it…” reflects poorly on him and the ICC.

Wasn’t anybody aware of the “processes” till this embarrassing U-turn was set in motion'

If not Sonn, then what about chief executive Malcolm Speed' Or the ICC’s legal team'

It’s not that Code of Conduct breaches haven’t been deliberated by the Executive Board (which comprises the ten Test-playing nations and, by rotation, three Associates).

Indeed, back in 2001-02, the Port Elizabeth Test fiasco featuring Mike Denness and India was taken to that level by a determined Jagmohan Dalmiya.

Talking of processes, usually, disciplinary hearings are held within 24 hours of any breach being reported.

The ICC, however, scheduled captain Inzamam-ul Haq’s five days after he was reported (for ball tampering and bringing the game into disrepute) and, then, postponed it when adjudicator Ranjan Madugalle expressed his inability to reach London in time to chair the hearing.

It ought to be a priority, but even now, there’s uncertainty. “No date has been fixed,” an ICC spokesman told The Telegraph from Dubai.

It’s bizarre.

The world body’s handling of the e-mail component of the controversy — actually, the cricket fraternity constantly seems to have a problem with e-mails — hasn’t earned it very many friends either.

The trading of charges between Hair and the ICC hasn’t, after all, made for pleasant reading.

One expects a world body to be decisive, to control events. Over the past nine days, in particular, the ICC has come across as one wanting others to provide solutions.

It’s a pity.

THE PERCY SONN STATEMENT

Last week I felt it necessary to call a meeting of the Board of Directors to brief them on the end to the Test match at The Brit Oval and subsequent events. That meeting was due to take place this coming Saturday. However, having had the chance to contact the directors and seeing they have an understanding of the situation I have decided this course of action is not necessary so I have decided to cancel the meeting.

I sent each Director a note last Friday and will telephone each of them over the next couple of days to further explain what has happened over the past week and ensure they understand the process from here onwards. There has been much speculation over the past few days about whether the Executive Board has the power to overturn a properly laid charge by the umpires.

That speculation would only be bound to intensify ahead of the weekend and so by cancelling the meeting it will allow everyone to get off that particular topic and focus on the cricket to be played this week instead.

The original intention was to seek legal advice concerning the Executive Board’s powers, but I do not believe it is necessary to obtain that advice. We have processes in place to deal with Code of Conduct matters and we should not seek to interfere with it.

PCB CHAIRMAN SHAHARYAR KHAN’S REACTION

We understand the need for the hearing to go ahead for the reasons explained by ICC president Mr Sonn. In the meantime, we are delighted at the chance to get back to playing cricket, starting with Monday’s NatWest Twenty20 international against England and five one-day Internationals to follow.

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