Bangalore: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has clarified there’s “nothing specific” in the rules to disallow a player from representing his country while arbitration is on.
It’s to be seen whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will use this “nothing specific” bit and pick regular captain Sourav Ganguly for the July 30-August 9/10 tri-series in Sri Lanka.
The selection is slated for July 18, with July 23 being Team India’s departure date.
The clarification, to a question from The Telegraph, came from ICC spokesman Jon Long during a lengthy tele-conference with arbiter Justice Albie Sachs ' incidentally, an “admirer” of Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray ' late on Thursday.
Justice Sachs, hand-picked by former President Nelson Mandela to serve on South Africa’s Constitutional Court, also sits on the ICC’s Code of Conduct Commission.
This arbitration business itself is unprecedented, but a player is eligible to take the field when his appeal is being considered by an Appeals Commissioner.
Theoretically, the earliest that Justice Sachs can announce his award on the “dispute” between the BCCI and the ICC (over the six-ODI ban on Sourav) is on the evening of July 22, just hours before Team India’s departure.
The BCCI is going to be in a terribly awkward position if Sourav isn’t selected, yet the award is in his favour before the tri-series’ commencement.
To avoid that, the selectors could be “directed” to both pick Sourav and name a replacement in case Justice Sachs calls for status quo being maintained.
Such a scenario may not be fair on Rahul Dravid (and new coach Greg Chappell), but it’s better being safe than sorry. Whatever, somebody in the BCCI has to take the lead in ensuring there’s not much damage ' either way.
Justice Sachs, who won’t be hearing Sourav in person, has fixed 5.00 pm (UK time) on July 20 as the deadline for the ICC and the BCCI to reply to the “legal issues” he has raised. [See box.]
Both parties can respond to each other’s submission by noon (again, UK time) on July 22.
While Justice Sachs hasn’t set himself a deadline, he has promised to “work night and day” to expedite his award. “I’m a fast worker... I do realise the urgency,” he quipped.
Asked why he wasn’t calling for oral submissions, Justice Sachs replied: “That’s because the dispute isn’t between Sourav and the ICC, but between the BCCI and the ICC... I would love to have a cup of tea (with Sourav), but not at this point.”
In Justice Sachs’ view, challenging the “process” whereby Appeals Commissioner Michael Beloff upheld the ban was the core issue. “It’s complicated... The legality has been questioned and I have to focus on the process,” he said.
JUSTICE SACHS HAS SOUGHT...
• The provisions in the Code of Conduct which define the offence and indicate the relevant penalties. In particular, the relevance (if any) of the section in brackets after C 1.
• The mischief that the offence is aimed at.
• How the Code of Conduct contemplates the culpability of the captain. In particular, is it possible to reconcile the approaches adopted by Tim Castle and Michael Beloff, QC'
• The factors which should be taken into account when imposing penalties both at Level 2 and Level 3 for this specific offence.
• The appropriate weight to be given on appeal to the factual findings, overall evaluation and decisions of the umpires and of the Match Referee.
• Note: Castle overturned the two-Test ban (on Sourav Ganguly) slapped by Clive Lloyd, last November; in April, Beloff upheld the Chris Broad-imposed six-ODI ban.