Indian fans make their point about umpires Benson
and Bucknor with some local donkeys [AFP]
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to India's demand to remove controversial umpire Steve Bucknor from the current Test series against Australia.

The move on Tuesday comes as criticism of Bucknor's decisions in the recent second Test and a row over a racial slur overshadow the ongoing Test series.

Jamaica's Bucknor will be replaced by New Zealand's Billy Bowden for the third Test, which begins in Perth on January 16, according to Sami-ul Hasan, an ICC media official.

"I can confirm that Bucknor will not stand in Perth," the AFP news agency reported Hasan as saying. "Bowden will partner Asad Rauf of Pakistan in the match."

India had demanded that Bucknor be removed over allegedly unfair umpiring decisions in the second Test in Sydney, including ruling Australian all-rounder Andrew as not out, when, as Symonds himself later acknowledged, he should have been caught behind on 30.

Instead he stood his ground, was ruled not out, and went on to make an unbeaten 162.

The ICC's chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle of Sri Lanka, will also fly to Perth to help re-establish "an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual respect between the two teams", Hasan said.

Unsportsmanlike conduct

Australia won the second Test by 122 runs on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.

But while Australia celebrated its world record-equaling 16th consecutive test win, the Indian team fumed over the umpiring and Australia's attitude in the field.

After the match, India captain Anil Kumble accused Australia of unsportsmanlike conduct and the team's manager called for "incompetent'' umpires to be replaced.

"Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game, that's all I can say,'' Kumble said after the match.

In parts of India, angry fans held street demonstrations and burnt effigies of Bucknor and Mark Benson.

The Hindustan Times described the test with the headline: "Double whammy of horrific umpiring, unfair racism charge traumatise (Indian) team.''

"Sydney disaster: When umpires won and cricket lost,'' said the Pioneer in a front-page banner headline, while the Indian Express proclaimed "Team India c Benson b Bucknor.''

High-profile Australian-based commentators also rallied behind India.

"India have been dudded. No one with the slightest enthusiasm for cricket will take the least satisfaction from the victory secured by the local team ... that entertained spectators, provided some excellent batting but left a sour taste in the mouth,'' wrote Peter Roebuck in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Racial slur

The Test has also been overshadowed by the three-match suspension of Harbhajan Singh, found guilty by match referee Mike Proctor of racially abusing Symonds.

Former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who guided Australia on its record winning run between 1999 and 2001, said it was a "real pity'' that the test match "will probably be remembered for all the wrong reasons, and not for the outstanding quality, pressure and the excruciating drama it ultimately provided.''

Waugh said the racial exchange involving Singh and Symonds could have been handled better.

"Perhaps a better outcome may have been for both captains, coaches and named players to get together at the end of the day's play and work out a solution before they went past the point of no return, which now has the potential to affect relations between both countries,'' Waugh wrote in Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

Source: Agencies