November 29, 2001

ICC offers to extend Sehwag deadline

The International Cricket Council has offered to extend tomorrow's deadline for a decision from the Board of Control for Cricket in India on whether Virender Sehwag will play in the first Test against England at Mohali.

The ICC President, Malcolm Gray, has offered to extend the deadline given to the BCCI and fly with the ICC Chief Executive, Malcolm Speed, to Kuala Lumpur for a final summit meeting with Mr Dalmiya on Saturday.

"We are making progress and given we are making progress it is worth extending the time before that deadline," Speed said at a media briefing this afternoon.

"The meeting will happen on Saturday morning. At this stage I am unable to say whether we get to that stage, things may break down or we may resolve the matter without having to get on the aeroplane.

"We don't want this going down to the last moment, the teams being presented by either captain and to an excited cricket ground full of fans. That would put safety in jeopardy.

"If the match is to be cancelled it must happen well before the proposed start of play on Monday.

"We recognise that there is a very serious international issue here, we are very concerned about the safety of players, fans and officials and the future of cricket and we will do what we can to resolve the matter."

Meanwhile the player at the centre of the controversy, Virender Sehwag, says he is desperately keen to play in the Test, which is due to start on Monday.

Sehwag, 23, was banned for one match by referee Mike Denness for excessive appealing in India's second Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth.

The ICC insist Sehwag has not served his ban, as they have ruled India's third Test against South Africa (which Sehwag missed) to be unofficial, after both teams refused to accept Denness as referee.

"To sit out a Test match can be extremely depressing," Sehwag said. "For five days you see your team-mates slog it out for six hours at a stretch daily and I just sit with a glum face in the dressing room.

"I can't comment on the ban but whether I have liked it or not, I have taken it in my stride. I hope the miseries for me are over. I just want to play the first Test against England in Mohali.

"I don't want to be in the news for the wrong reasons any more. Why should a ban destroy my happiness? Yes, it's depressing to miss a Test match but I am looking ahead in life and that's why I want to play the England series," Sehwag told the Times of India.

"It's a new series for me and playing at home will give me a real big boost."

The BCCI president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, has said he will not confirm whether India intend to play Sehwag until the morning of the match, which would be too late to save the Test.