| Back in the reckoning: Sourav Ganguly
Colombo, July 28: It was a formality, but the International Cricket Council (ICC) has accepted arbiter Justice Albie Sachs’s recommendation that former Team India captain Sourav Ganguly’s six-ODI ban be reduced by one-third.
It’s a landmark award ' middle path, most would say ' for never before has such punishment reached arbitration.
However, Justice Sachs upheld the “process” which saw Sourav banned after the Ahmedabad ODI against Pakistan. He was made to pay for the bowlers being three overs short.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had challenged the “process” adopted by match referee Chris Broad and commissioner Michael Beloff, who rejected Sourav’s appeal.
As the former captain has already missed two ODIs, he’s eligible for the second half of the season-launching tri-series.
The tournament begins in Dambulla on Saturday.
Given that ICC president Ehsan Mani has conveyed the acceptance through a media statement tonight, the BCCI is expected to quickly finalise Sourav’s travel plans.
He is the provisional 16th member.
Late tonight, there was talk Sourav could arrive on August 1, ahead of the third league match ' versus Sri Lanka, on August 3.
Dambulla is hosting the first three matches, with Colombo staging the last.
Despite the excellent news, Sourav didn’t go overboard when reached for a comment in Calcutta.
“I haven’t yet heard anything from the BCCI... But, yes, returning to international cricket will be nice... Beyond that, right now, I have nothing to say,” he maintained.
Incidentally, this Sourav development was conveyed to Rahul Dravid by The Telegraph. Speaking from Dambulla, he said: “I’m happy for Sourav... I don’t know when he’s coming, but he’s very welcome to join the team.”
Coach Greg Chappell’s response, too, was as enthusiastic as the captain’s.
“Justice Sachs has shown Solomon’s wisdom... The award comes as a bonus as we didn’t have Sourav in our plans... Now, we have his experience to look forward to... It’s a positive development on many fronts,” he observed.
Significantly, during a tele-conference from London, Justice Sachs held that “too much weightage” was given to Sourav having been warned about the slow over-rate in the previous ODI (Jamshedpur).
“A captain remains responsible... In this case, the small shortfall and the question of whether the captain actually acted deliberately wasn’t given much weightage... That’s why I recommended a reduction...” he pointed out.
In Justice Sachs’s view, the “principles applied needed refinement” and changes to the ICC’s Code of Conduct have been suggested.
He signed off hoping the ICC and the BCCI would work together without being affected by what obviously became a terribly contentious issue.