| Sourav at Eden. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta, Dec. 1: With Sourav Ganguly around, match referees are unlikely to have an uneventful series. Jeff Crowe, for one, will vouch for that.
The former New Zealand captain, on his maiden assignment to India as the International Cricket Council (ICC)'s man-on-the-spot, had little to do in the two-Test India versus South Africa series besides rescheduling starts.
Till this evening, that is, when he had to swing into action and discipline the Team India captain for 'showing dissent at an umpire's decision by action or verbal abuse'.
Sourav got into trouble ' for the second time in under three weeks, and on home turf ' for going overboard when Daryl Harper denied Harbhajan Singh top gun Jacques Kallis' wicket. As a decision, it was awful.
Kallis was then on two, with South Africa 88 for two.
The most accomplished South African is still batting (52) and, really, is the only one who can prevent India from winning the Eden Test and the series. With a day remaining, South Africa is in effect 66 for five in the second innings.
The hearing proper, conducted at the business centre of the team hotel, lasted around 25 minutes with Sourav hauled up for a Level I (1.3) breach under the code of conduct. A ban, thankfully, isn't part of the penalty.
The match referee, however, is empowered to serve an 'official reprimand' and/or a fine of up to 50 per cent of the match fee. Crowe chose to simply slap a 30 per cent fine.
Sourav, who is understood to have regretted his exploding, should be thankful.
Crowe, of course, did indict him in his statement: 'As the Indian captain, with greater responsibilities, the behaviour is unacceptable in maintaining the standards of international cricket.'
While the match referee didn't offer a comment beyond that, The Telegraph learns Sourav pleaded that the cameras caught him expressing 'disappointment and anguish' rather than dissent.
'The hearing went off smoothly' Everybody, I think, understood Sourav's was a heat-of-the-moment reaction and wasn't an act of dissent. Yet, as everything gets beamed across the world, rules have to be followed,' is how a source put it.
He added: 'The punishment could have been greater had Harper's decision itself not been poor' Still, a captain has to lead by example in all respects and must never be seen as encouraging an ugly situation.'
Sourav himself had this to say after emerging from the hearing: 'Kicchu hoi ni' These things happen (on the spur of the moment)'
Earlier, at a media conference, coach John Wright said 'passion and emotions' have to be kept in check even when the ball is rolling the other way. He added, quite rightly, that decisions eventually tend to 'even out'.
This evening's hearing (prompted by a complaint from the umpires) was Sourav's second in 17 days. The last was chaired by Clive Lloyd, who banned the captain for two Tests.
That punishment got quashed by appeals commissioner Tim Castle.