The Denness affair November 20, 2001

Former cricketers express anger at Denness' decision

Allegations that India's favourite son tampered with the ball in the second Test against South Africa at Port Elisabeth have been met with widespread anger. The decision of Match Referee Mike Denness to hand out a one-Test suspended sentence to Sachin Tendulkar has been condemned summarily. In Mumbai, Tendulkar's home, former cricketers, officials and others are not mincing words. Here are some reactions:

Ajit Wadekar, former Indian captain and coach:

On the possibility of discrimination against Indian cricketers:

Indian cricketers have been victimised over the years. I can remember very clearly the Friendship series in 1992 when we went to South Africa. Peter Kirsten took gamesmanship to an extreme level in a limited-overs match. After repeated warnings, Kapil Dev ran him out at the non-striker's end because he was backing up too far and gaining an unfair advantage. Soon after that, Kepler Wessels hit Kapil with the handle of his bat. We could all see very clearly that it was a deliberate act. The match referee in that series, Clive Lloyd, turned a blind eye to the whole incident.

On Tendulkar's suspended sentence:

Let me tell you one thing. I have known Sachin (Tendulkar) since his childhood. There was no reason for him to do anything like this. It is similar to the Mike Atherton incident, when the England captain was just drying the ball and got into all sorts of controversy.

On the decision to suspend Sehwag:

I can only say that we should come down hard on excessive appealing. But if we want to do this, there must be consistency across the board.

Anshuman Gaekwad, former Indian coach:

On Tendulkar's suspended sentence:

Sachin Tendulkar is a really tough cricketer. On the field, he will not give an inch. But he is known for his exemplary sportsmanship and would never do such a thing. I don't know why he is being targeted. All I can say is that, over the years, we Indians do end up getting more stick.

GS Ramchand, former Indian all-rounder:

On Tendulkar's suspended sentence and the possibility of discrimination against Indian cricketers:

I have no reason whatsoever to doubt Sachin Tendulkar's integrity. After this incident, the Indians have every right to feel victimised. In world cricket today, there are a few cricketers who can get away with anything, but others get pulled up for the smallest of things. Why have a different set of rules for different people?

Bapu Nadkarni, former Indian left-arm spinner:

On Tendulkar's suspended sentence:

The Indian team was already under tremendous pressure for their performance abroad. This only adds to their list of problems. Sachin Tendulkar has always had a wonderful record on and off the field, not just for his cricket, but for the way he carries himself. The verdict from the match referee in this case is too harsh, in my opinion.

Raj Singh Dungarpur, former BCCI president:

On Tendulkar's suspended sentence:

Sachin Tendulkar is above suspicion. Playing cricket for so many years, he has had a blemishless record. I think this allegation is an insult to all Indians.

On the decision to suspend Sehwag:

In the case of excessive appealing, I admit that the Indians are not totally above board. There is a 'Nayan Mongia' culture that has set into the team in the recent past. Now that player is not in the team any more, but the culture still remains. Look at Virender Sehwag, he has played just two Tests, and he has already been suspended. That is completely atrocious. I like Sourav Ganguly as a captain, but he is a poor communicator. What were the coach and the captain doing at this time? They should have spoken to the boys and made sure things never came to such a pass.