The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Indian referee for racist pitch
- Solicitor-general to probe charges against Aussie crowd

Jan. 31: India’s solicitor-general Goolam Vahanvati has been called upon to investigate complaints of racial abuse of South African cricketers by Australian spectators.

Vahanvati, who was in Kochi, said over phone that his appointment by the International Cricket Council (ICC) was a great honour.

“Giving me this challenging work shows the kind of faith India and its legal system enjoys the world over and, in particular, in the eyes of the ICC. I’ll begin my probe on February 15 from Australia and will speak to the staff that was present at the venue, representatives of Cricket Australia and ICC officials,” he said.

Afterwards, Vahanvati will travel to South Africa and possibly to Sri Lanka to meet the players and some officials.

“As prima facie Sri Lankan players also seem to be on the receiving end in the recent series, I may go to Sri Lanka as well. I hope I will be able to suggest measures to the ICC to stop such racial abuse.”

The report has to be handed in latest by March 20.

ICC appointed Vahanvati after the South African cricket board’s chief executive, Gerald Majola, was quoted as saying it would consider boycotting Australia if players on the current tour continue to suffer abuse.

Makhaya Ntini, Garnett Kruger, Herschelle Gibbs and Aswell Prince, who are coloured, were targets of abuse by a section of the crowd during the first Test of the tri-series in December in Perth.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said: “Racism in any form is abhorrent and everyone in cricket is unhappy with the way in which players from international teams have been subjected to racist abuse in Australia.”

“The actions of what would seem to be a small number of people are reflecting poorly on Australia and on cricket. It is essential that this issue is addressed.

“What is now important is that the ICC is provided with a clear and independent understanding of exactly what has taken place to ensure that cricket is able to respond appropriately,” he said.

Speed said the cricket boards of the three countries involved in the ongoing tri-series had pledged to support Vahanvati in his investigation.

“I have spoken with Duleep Mendis, Gerald Majola and James Sutherland regarding this course of action and they all support this step,” Speed said.

He said Cricket Australia had sought to make sure that such incidents are dealt with swiftly and in keeping with the ICC’s anti-racism policy.

“Once the ICC executive board has received this report, we will be in a position to identify what further steps cricket can take to tackle this issue before it spreads beyond the incidents that have taken place in Australia.”

Vahanvati has earlier represented the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in various cases. He appeared for Prasar Bharati in Supreme Court on the issue of telecast rights for the one-day series in Pakistan and managed to seal a deal with TEN Sports.

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