New Delhi, Jan 8 : The ICC have taken a U-turn on their decision to retain umpire Steve Bucknor for the third and fourth India-Australia Tests to be played at Perth and Adelaide respectively.
ICC chief Malcolm Speed confirmed that Steve Bucknor has been removed from officiating in the series against India.
New Zealand empanelled umpire Billy Bowden would replace Bucknor for the series. This was the first demand by the BCCI, which has been fulfilled, but the issue of Harbhajan Singh's ban still remains to be addressed.
India's tour of Australia is virtually on hold as the cricket team continues to stay put in Sydney.
On the BCCI's orders, the players will not leave for Canberra for a second day today pending the outcome of the ICC's decision on the Indian board's appeal against Harbhajan Singh's three-Test ban.
Also, the BCCI's Working Committee will meet in the capital later in the day today to decide whether to call off the tour and ask the team to come back to India.
The tour is in dire straits following the ICC's decision to ban Harbhajan and continue with Steve Bucknor as umpire for the third and fourth Test matches.
There have been widespread protests in India and throughout the cricketing fraternity over the handling of the Harbhajan-Symonds race row and over the quality of umpiring in the just concluded Sydney Test.
Taking cognisance of the wide spread outrage over Harbhajan Singh's ban and the umpiring horrors, the BCCI finally sent a strong worded letter to the ICC, laying down a 24 hour deadline to resolve the issue.
The ICC confirmed that they had received an official complaint from the BCCI.
Earlier, the ICC had ruled out the changing of umpires mid series, citing technical reasons. The resulting standoff has put the entire series in jeopardy.