Sourav Ganguly has appealed to the International Cricket Council against the two-Test ban handed down to him on Sunday. Ganguly was suspended because of India's slow over-rates during Saturday's one-day international against Pakistan. It was his second such transgression within the year, which meant that he was automatically liable for suspension. If the punishment is upheld, he will miss both Tests against South Africa.
The ICC said that it would name the members of the commission which will hear the case within the next 24 hours, and that they would then have seven days to hear and determine the appeal. The statement added: "Should this appeal not be finalised before the start of the India's first Test against South Africa on November 20 2004, Ganguly would be able to compete in the match."
While Ganguly was within his rights to appeal within 24 hours of the judgement, the move meant that the uncertainty over captaincy would continue. Rahul Dravid was made captain after Sourav Ganguly pulled out due to an injury 40 minutes before the start of the third Test against Australia. It was a move that was questioned, for it came as a blow to India in a crucial match with the series still alive. John Buchanan later stated his belief that the aftershock of losing a captain so suddenly could be hard to withstand, and that the pressure showed on Dravid's batting. While Buchanan's comments could be attributed to an attempt at psychological hurt, Ganguly's withdrawal gave Dravid little time to prepare.
The decision on the appeal could take up to seven days, in which case Ganguly would be eligible for the first Test. But theoretically, a decision to uphold the suspension could be taken a day before the Test, which would give Dravid little time to prepare his own game-plan.