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India threatened with suspension

ICC president Malcolm Gray threatened India with suspension from world cricket on Saturday in the wake of their players' contracts row.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2003 23:13 IST

International Cricket Council (ICC) president Malcolm Gray threatened India with suspension from world cricket here on Saturday in the wake of their players' World Cup contracts row.

Following a two-day ICC executive board meeting here, Gray said the world governing body was standing by its earlier decision to withhold World Cup payments worth nine million dollars to India after its cricketers refused to accept the original players terms for the tournament.

Gray also told reporters that if compensation claims made against the ICC as a result of India's actions exceeded nine million dollars, drastic action would be taken.

"If India are not forthcoming, the suspension of India from the ICC will be contemplated."

In a fresh move, the ICC also decided to withhold payments to England and New Zealand for boycotting World Cup matches.

England stand to lose 3.5 million dollars for forfeiting their match against Zimbabwe at Harare on February 13 on moral and security grounds.

New Zealand will lose 2.5 million dollars for refusing to play their February 21 match against Kenya at Nairobi for security reasons.

Sri Lanka too have had 500,000 dollars witheld because their players' contracts were returned to the ICC after the official deadline.

The payments will be withheld till compensation claims, likely to be made by official sponsors and broadcasters, are decided, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed explained.

The amount of money witheld from England was more than three times what the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) estimated it would have to pay for boycotting its game in Harare.

However, Gray pointed out that the figures involved for England and New Zealand simply represented "prudent financial management" on the part of the world governing body and were based on the commercial value of the respective games.

Gray said this World Cup had been the most lucrative ever with proceeds in "excess of 200 million dollars".

He added that cricket, which had been "on its knees" two or three years ago because of the match-fixing scandal, was now "almost corruption free".

But the re-named anti-corruption and security unit will continue to be funded to the tune of one million dollars per year.

Gray also said the board had received reports from its code of conduct commission regarding investigations into cricket in Sharjah, claims against former Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal and allegations involving Brian Lara emerging from the testimony of Indian bookmaker Mukesh Gupta.

He said that the ICC would be "drawing a line" under any further investigations, with Speed adding that the risk of libel meant they could not publish the reports.

In a separate development, Speed said surprise World Cup semi-finalists Kenya would have their application for Test status considered a year ahead of schedule in 2005.

The ICC also planned to refine its World Test championship to take account results of individual match as well as series results.

The World Cup final takes place here at the Wanderers on Sunday between defending champions Australia and India.

First Published: Mar 22, 2003 23:13 IST