In a major blow to the beleaguered Indian Cricket Team, ICC Appeals Commissioner, Michael Beloff QC has rejected captain Sourav Ganguly's appeal against his six-One-Day International match ban for his failure to achieve the minimum over rate in the fourth ODI against Pakistan in Ahmedabad.
After considering comprehensive written submissions from Ganguly and the match officials, Beloff last night endorsed the decision of ICC Match Referee Chris Broad to find Ganguly guilty and impose a six ODI match ban.
In a 23-page judgment, Beloff found that the legal arguments put forward did not have sufficient merit to overturn the initial decision.
"The Appellant was notified that India bowled with no energy; and he was, as Captain, clearly being held responsible for that underperformance which itself was said to be the cause of the failure to achieve the minimum over rate (see Code C1 which imposes responsibility on the team captain for the teams duty to play within the spirit of the game)," said Beloff in his judgment.
Beloff also did not accept the argument put forward that heat was the reason for the failure to achieve the over rates.
"Cricket is a game played in all kinds of climates; it cannot be right that the mere fact of the heat and humidity will excuse a failure to achieve the minimum over rate," he said.
Beloff heard the appeal based on written submissions from the parties involved and emphasized that this was consistent with the principles of natural justice.
"While I acknowledge without reservation the need to observe the rules of natural justice, it must be recalled that natural justice does not automatically require an oral hearing," Beloff said.
"What is essential is 1) that the Appellant is made aware of the case against him (which by reason, in particular, of the formal documents supplied with the ICC's letter to BCCI of April 13, 2005, which were transmitted to him, as well as the Match Umpires Report and Adjudication report which I had transmitted to him on the April 15, 2005) and 2) that he had a fair opportunity to make his own case which, in all the circumstances I consider that he had."
After receiving the decision the ICC Chief Executive, Malcolm Speed, confirmed that, for the purposes of calculating the matches to be missed under the ban, the last two matches of the India v Pakistan series would be considered as the first two games missed under this six match suspension.
"The initial decision of the Match Referee to impose this ban clearly had an impact on the ability of the Indian team to determine and select the make-up of its side," said Speed.
"In light of this, the last two matches of India's series against Pakistan, where the possible suspension of the Indian captain impacted on the selection decisions of the Board, will count as the first two matches served under this sentence."
The decision of the Appeals Commissioner shall be final and binding.