The clearest problem to emerge from the farcical series of events on surrounding what has now come to be known as the “Denness Affair” is that players and teams should have the right to appeal against fines and bans handed down by the ICC match referee.
However diligently punishments are considered by the ICC’s disciplinary hierarchy, the right for ‘convicted’ criminals to appeal against their sentences remains a basic human right enshrined in the constitutions of every democratic country in the world.
As dramatic as the stand by the Indian team is regarding Denness’ continued role for the third test – and refusing to honour a Test match fixture is about as dramatic as it gets – it would surely have been handled differently if the Indian team had the right to appeal against the bans and fines imposed on six players by Denness.
How can one man, with no more than telephonic advice and assistance from a country six thousand miles away, sit in judgement, and then pass such a heavy sentence, on international cricketers without a proven judicial process?
All of the Indian players who received punishment from Denness were guilty of some form of illegality, but then again, most international cricketers can be construed as having infringed some law or guideline during the course of five days of intense competition.
The right to appeal against sentence is commonplace in other sporting codes, so why not cricket? Not only is the current system unfair to players, it is actually unfair on the match referee. No wonder Mike Denness took so long to reach his decisions – he was perfectly aware of the possible ramifications. Not that he would have dreamed that it could all end up in a cancelled Test match.
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