On why the game needs more Asian Match Referees…


I know I have said a few times that cricket needs more Asian Match Referees. I will qualify that a bit more. The game needs more new-age Asian Match Referees. Currently, we have Asian gentlemen like Ranjan Madugalle, Roshan Mahanama and Javagal Srinath as match referees (G. R. Vishwanath was a Match Referee from the recent past).

The current Asian Match Referees are, in my view, not strong enough, in my view, and do not make the decisions against the old-block countries that Chris Broad and Mike Procter are regularly able to take against Asian players! Furthermore, the current Asian Match Referees are, in my view, not able to afford the Asian Teams the same amount of largesse that old-block Referees like Procter and Broad afford to non-Asian players!

This is a potentially inflammatory statement and I am certain there will be many from Sampath Kumar to Peter Lalor that will jump up and down and scream “shades of racism” in the statement above.

But this statement is beyond racism, in my view. It can be supported by documented evidence from a catalogue of wrong-doings. It is even beyond a need that I and the average sub-continental fan may have to throw off the shackles of imperialistic overtures that some of us have had to live and work through. It is even beyond feelings of inadequacy that one may — perhaps even legitimately — be accused of. Although I am leaving myself exposed to all of the above, I do believe that the game needs a good hard re-jig if it needs to move forward in an environment of trust.

And that shake up can and must occur through the induction of more new-age Asian Match Referees and officials.

I would like a new-Age match umpire, for example, that has the guts to put his finger to his lips and shut Ricky Ponting up when the latter argues vehemently with the match official. Is that possible? Well, when Billy Bowden can shut up V. V. S. Laxman’s polite protest, I am not sure why he would want to tolerate a spray from Ponting? Unless of course, he felt
(a) fearful of Ponting or
(b) that Laxman was a piece of dispensable old cloth
(c) that unlike Laxman, Ponting was a “good bloke who ought to be implicitly trusted but is just indulging in bit of a decent argument after all”?

I suspect it is a bit of (a), (b) and (c) above!

This is why I, as a fan, have a deep sense of mistrust towards someone like Billy Bowden or Steve Bucknor. It has nothing to do with the colour of their skin or indeed the colour of Laxman’s skin! It has more to do with consistency. A person that deals with Laxman with utter disdain and can yet tolerate virulent abuse from Ponting is inconsistent and does not engender trust in me the viewer! I suspect that such a person will not have the trust of a player like (say) Gautam Gambhir either.

This is why I feel that change is necessary before an environment of greater trust can be built. This environment of trust does not exist in world cricket and the ICC is incompetent to do anything about it.

I have felt that this change was necessary since the fractious SCG Test.

India has not been able to forget the anger, the utter pain and the agony of the fractious SCG Test and went to extraordinary lengths — like the setting of 8-1 fields — to win the recently concluded Test series in India against Australia. That one SCG Test was responsible for the breakdown of a talented player (Symonds) and triggered the retirements of two of crickets’ modern-day greats (Gilchrist and Kumble).

The SCG-anger led to M. S. Dhoni digging into the Mahabharata to explain why he adopted 8-1 fields in a bid to win the Nagpur Test match at “all costs”.

Dhoni used the epic battle in the Mahabharata as his motivation for the win in Nagpur.

In the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna told the archer, Arjuna, to forget everything else in the epic battle against the enemy and aim his arrow not at the dangling fish target but instead at the eye of the fish. Dhoni took inspiration from this Epic and told his troops to focus on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and nothing else. Nothing else mattered. Everything else was left in the peripheral vision. Even Dhoni’s own natural aggressive instincts were discarded. Nothing else was important. The team went to extraordinary lengths to deliver that single-minded — ruthless, perhaps — focus in order to secure the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. I can’t imagine that this was just because they played Australia.

Indeed, I am certain that it was because they were playing the team that played against them at the SCG.

The ghosts of the SCG had to be purged. Has that SCG Test anger been purged? It is hard to say. For the Indian fan, it may never ever be purged. For the team, perhaps under Dhoni and with newer players on the scene, the anger may dissolve over time.

This anger and fire is constantly stoked by counter allegations from the likes of Gilchrist, Ponting and Symonds who continue to yell out that they were right and the Indians were all wrong.

Perhaps we are all at wrong here.

But there will be many more fish that lose eyes before we can all sit down and understand the deepness of the hurt that was caused in Sydney.

That is a back-drop and provides further context for the contentious and anger-laden statement I made above.

I will say it again: The current Asian Match Referees are, in my view, not strong enough, in my view, and do not make the decisions against the old-block countries that Chris Broad and Mike Procter are regularly able to take against Asian players! Furthermore, the current Asian Match Referees are, in my view, not able to afford the Asian Teams the same amount of largesse that old-block Referees like Procter and Broad afford to non-Asian players!

Let is consider two two acts that provide the benchmarks for the above, perhaps startling, call for more new-age Asian Match Referees.

Act-1:

In August 2006, Darryl Hair accused the Pakistan team of ball tampering at the famously chaotic and horribly ill-fated Oval Test against England. Hair was a good umpire. In my view, he was also an umpire who thought he was bigger than the game — how else can one explain his no-balling of Muralidharan on Boxing Day when all the cameras were on him? He was bigger than the game itself! At least, one can discern quite easily that he and Simon Taufel do not share any genetic material!

But be that as it may. On that day in 2006, Hair had basically insinuated that the Pakistan team was a collection of cheats. Maybe they were? Who knows? But the events that led to that public insinuation raised more than eyebrows! Hair plucked the ball, kept it and pronounced his judgement in an utterly callous fashion. Did he have evidence? No. Did he check footage from any of the 20-odd cameras at the Oval ground to verify if his — perhaps valid and perhaps even legitimate — suspicions were valid? No. He ploughed on regardless like a crazed bull that ran amok in a busy China shop! Indeed, the subsequent investigation revealed that apart from a few dints and dents suffered from some brutally hammered boundary hits against the boundary advertisement hoardings, the ball was, in fact in perfectly good shape!

Was Hair prejudiced? You make up your own minds!

And by the way, here is the answer to the question you had perhaps asked earlier… You perhaps asked innocently “Who was the Match Referee in that infamous game at The Oval>”. Did you not?

Well, it was Mike Procter! The same Match Referee that handled the SCG Test match!

Cut to 2008, to the Test match just concluded in Nagpur.

During a bizarre passage of play when the wheels were falling of the Australian truck named “sanity”, we saw TV footage of an incident that would have made an average cricket fan draw breath! The footage showed Cameron White plucking something red off a red object in his hands! The red object that he had in his hand wasn’t an apple. And the stuff that he plucked from what may have looked like an apple wasn’t a dead leaf or residual stem. He had plucked leather that was sticking out of a badly scuffed up cricket ball. TV cameras captured this. Everyone saw what happened. Chris Broad, the Match Referee, would have seen that too.

Was the ball altered in any way whatsoever? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt.

Cameron White would have known that what he did was utterly wrong. He was captain of Victoria when Michael Lewis was probed for ball-tampering. Thumbnails and seam were allegedly involved in that incident. Cameron White would have attended the enquiry and would have known what constitutes ball tampering. Cameron White would have known from that at least — if not from playing at junior level and club level — that a player cannot alter the condition of the ball. He did. If there is a problem with the ball, you simply hand it over to the umpire.

It is quite likely and indeed, highly probable that Cameron White was not malicious in his intent. He had just pulled leather off. He had not lifted the seam. But was he wrong? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt, yes. Vehemently yes.

But it does make me angry when I think that Chris Broad, the Match Referee did not — to the best of my knowledge — even question White on that incident! It is quite likely that he thought, “I trust my basic instincts that Cameron White, this good, honest Australian bloke did something silly and not something with unscrupulous intent.”

I have nothing against that instinct. But I have to ask, “Would Chris Broad afford the same luxury to an Asian bloke?” My view is “No”.

Cut to South Africa in 2001.

Sachin Tendulkar had cleaned dirt off the seam of the ball. No finger nails were used. Just thumb. This was captured on TV cameras.

Why was Cameron White’s action different from Sachin Tendulkar cleaning the seam of the ball with his thumb (not thumbnails) in South Africa? The Match Referee in that instance was Mike Denness, in that initial dark hour of world cricket when India first flexed its muscles on the world stage.

Mike Denness first accused Sachin Tendulkar of “ball tampering” and and then issued this statement that claimed that he fined Tendulkar for not cleaning the ball “under the supervision of the umpires, which Tendulkar failed to do”.

Was Cameron White doing anything different? Was he not, also, cleaning the ball in a manner other than under the supervision of the umpires? Was he not, therefore, altering the condition of the ball?

He was.

The umpire in this instance was Aleem Dar, a mild natured man. A good man. If the umpire had been Darryl Hair and if the offender had been Sachin Tendulkar or Salman Butt, the player would have been accused of being a cheat! After all, Hair had acted pompously at The Oval with far less to go by way of evidence!

Aleem Dar had a quiet word with Ricky Ponting and the issue was killed then and there. There was no grandstanding. The game was bigger than Allem Dar, the man. The game moved on.

Chris Broad could have done something about it. He did not.

My point is that Broad did not have either the bravery or the integrity to pull up Cameron White when the evidence was there for all to see, while Hair, Procter, Broad and Denness would have no problems at all in picking off the Pakistani team or a randomly dispensable Indian player in order to prove that the game is beyond an individual.

To men like Broad, Denness, Procter and Hair, it would seem that rules must be obeyed by Asian players. However, there is an implicit level of trust deeply embedded within them that “players from Australia and England are good, honest blokes who play good, hard cricket and occasionally make genuine errors”.

Now, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that implicit level of trust. What is, however, wrong is that that same implicit level of trust is not afforded to the average Asian player — not even to Sachin Tendulkar!

When I saw the Cameron White incident, I commented about it and immediately thought back to Darry Hair and The Oval! Scorpicity, who comments on i3j3Cricket frequently, has written about this too.

What is required is that we have Match Referees that have the integrity and the courage to act against unacceptable behaviour of Australians and Englishmen.

Remember that Procter was the Match Referee who once said, “[Team-X] has always played pretty tough cricket, I don’t think anyone wants them to change the way they play. They are a wonderful side and play in the spirit of the game.”

What was “Team-X” in the above direct quote? Australia.

What was the context of the quote? The McGrath-Sarawan incident.

What did Procter do at the time? Nothing.

[Exit Stage Left]

Act-2:

Act-2 has borrowed heavily from Samir Chopra’s article in CricInfo’s Blog “Different Strokes” titled ‘Why is the Indian Fan So Angry’.

Samir Chopra is spot on.

My distrust with the officials that run the game comes from the totally insulting and perilously supercilious (in my view) actions of umpires like Billy Bowden when they deal with Asian players. Picture these following scenarios and take a check of your heart-rate if you are from the subcontinent. Let me know if it is anything below 85 bpm!

  • Peter Willey shooing away the 12th man in Kolkata who was bringing in spare gloves for the batsman, as though the 12th man were nothing but odour coming out of rotting food,
  • Steve Bucknor reprimanding Partiv Patel in Sydney as though the latter were a truant schoolboy,
  • Billy Bowden shutting up Laxman in Delhi (in the recently concluded Test) as though the latter were an irritating fly.

In the third example above, Laxman had just attempted to complete a run. Bowden had ruled that Laxman had run on the pitch and deducted the run. Fair enough. But Laxman said, “How else could I complete the run?”, to which Bowden put his fingers to his lips and shooed Laxman back to the crease.

Now if that was the way Bowden always acts, that would be perhaps fine. But the same Bowden was repeatedly abused by Ricky Ponting questioning the authority of the umpire on everything from the legitimacy of an overthrow that went for 5 runs to the shape of the ball!

There are many many more examples that I can cite like the ones above. But these give you an example of the images that stay in the mind for a long long time. I have absolutely no trust in these gentlemen that run our beautiful game.

I would like to know that these images that I have are because Indians are inherently bad and not because it is inherently possible for the Bowedns, Bucknors and Willeys to act in this manner with Indians and get away with it.

As Samir Chopra says, these images make even the unthinkable very possible! For an Indian fan, what is perhaps most inconceivable, seems totally accceptable: Aleem Dar, Asad Rauf and even Ashoka DeSilva seem more acceptable as officials in a game involving India! They provide a calming influence!

Now, coming from a generation of Indian fans that were fed a staple diet of mistrust of Pakistani officialdom that included officials like Shakoor Rana, that statement is actually saying one heck of a lot!

[Exit Stage Left]

So, when I wrote above (and on previous occasions) that new-age Asians ought to be queuing up for ICC Match Referee positions this is exactly what I meant.

I would like Sourav Ganguly, for example, be a Match Refereee. I’d like him to officiate the game from an Asian point of view. Is it necessary? I do think so.

I would have wanted Billy Bowden to put his fingers to his lips when Ricky Ponting was abusing him on the field. Ponting was abusing Bowden’s authority. No doubt about it! And this was not the first time Ponting was doing it. He did it at Mohali too. But the officials will not pull Ponting up. They would rather concentrate their energies on the Laxmans of the world.

Chris Broad lacked the integrity to pull up Cameron White. He ought to have.

Just as there is no way Billy Bowden will put his fingers on his lips and motion (say) Matthew Hayden to shut up when the latter asks a genuine question of him, there is no way Chris Broad will pull Ponting up for anything other than kicking an opposition player!

This is the cricket world we live in. And I just don’t think it is good for the game.

We will see many more SCG Tests and many more Asian cricketers will re-read the Mahabharata (or similar Epics) to draw inspiration from before delivering ruthless focus to their game in a bid to “win at all costs”.

There will be fewer fish around — or plenty of fish with only one eye!

The game will be the loser for it all…

– Mohan

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42 responses to “On why the game needs more Asian Match Referees…

  1. Exactly my thoughts. Nicely written. And this is not about Asian-insecurity complexes. These are valid issues. ICC has to address this to remove Asian mistrust. What a wonderful article. Congrats.

  2. Well written article there Mohan (how do you fine the time?). To the list add Bucknor’s mocking of Rahul Dravid by imitating ball-tampering in Australia in 2004 during the VB series. Can we count the number of times Ganguly has been fined for slow overrates and how many times Ponting hasn’t been? This whole system is useless and only provides fodder for people like Malcom Conn to thump the desk with penalty stats for Indians vs the rest.

  3. @Prabu

    Most of my articles like this one are written at night! I stew on them and then post! It helps me cool off pent up steam! 🙂

    As I said about Malcolm Conn, “Simple man. Simple analysis!”.

    The fact that Indians have the worst record merely suggests that they are worse at “staying under the radar” and nothing else.

    The pointer to the “worst behaved team” lies in the texts of the independent judges: Hansen and Sachs.

    — Mohan

  4. Take a bow Mohan and thanks for the mention.

    On Dhoni’s 8-1 story, I find it strange if there are one-sided complaints because Australia pretty much did the same throughout the series, every time Michelle Johnson came on to bowl… 7-2 way outside off stump.

    Both teams played defensively and both had their valid reasons… it was not sustained anyway.

    cheers

  5. theblackirishman

    Very well presented case, Mohan!

  6. Another masterpiece from you Mohan. As Scopicity said, take a bow. I have started seeing things from an Asian perspective after Sydney. Believe me. A lot of my friends have change since Sydney too. While I see the thrust and basis of your call for more Asian Referees, I think it is not necessary for an eye-for-an-eye approach (pardon the pun!)

    What is needed is greater education for people like Broad, Procter, etc.

  7. Ranatunga should be made permanent match refree for all Australia test series

  8. In your comparison of the actions of Mike Denness and Chris Broad you failed to note that thanks to the actions of the BCCI it doesn’t matter whether Broad saw White remove something from the ball or not, he can’t do anything about it! Actually it would be more relevant to ask why the TV umpire didn’t report White since unlike Broad he does have the power to report White. So it appears that Suresh Sastri did not have either the bravery or the integrity to pull up Cameron White when the evidence was there for all to see. According to you Suresh Shastri lacked the integrity to pull up Cameron White.

  9. @Phil

    I am at a loss to understand how the BCCI gets involved in whether or not “Broad saw White remove something from the ball”? Could you explain that a bit clearer please? If not, that is through to the ‘keeper.

    My fundamental hypothesis is that Asian Match officials lack the courage to pull up old-block countries for wrongdoings. So the action of Suresh Sastri is consistent with this hypothesis! What we need is more “new age” Asian officials. Thanks for lending more weight to the argument!

  10. Excellent article Mohan. Now perhaps the Aussie readers will realize why the Indians did not mind taking the flight back home in the middle of a tour. Well, until the day Chris Broad and his ilk keep ignoring a Cameron White’s act DESPITE evidence, we Indians have no choice but to do what it takes to protest aginst these double standards.

    On a lighter note, perhaps Broad was being broad minded because Cameron was ‘white’ 🙂

  11. I am at a loss to understand how the BCCI gets involved in whether or not “Broad saw White remove something from the ball”? Could you explain that a bit clearer please? If not, that is through to the ‘keeper.

    It doesn’t matter whether Broad saw it or not, he has no power to charge White! This is because the BCCI threw a hissy fit about Denness charging SRT with ball tampering and got the right of the referee to bring charges removed. Aleem Dar, Bowden or Shastri could have brought charges, Broad could not and neither could your hypothetical ‘new age’ asian match referee.

  12. I would dearly love to hear Chris Broad offer an explanation as to why he did not find Cameron White guilty of ball tampering. Had it been an Indian player who had done that, wouldnt the Aussie media (Conn, Saltau etc) have torn the player to shreds??
    So does this mean that the next time an Indian player too has the right to pluck the leather off a cricket ball??

  13. I am at a loss to understand how the BCCI gets involved in whether or not “Broad saw White remove something from the ball”? Could you explain that a bit clearer please? If not, that is through to the ‘keeper.

    It doesn’t matter whether Broad saw it or not, he has no power to charge White! This is because the BCCI threw a hissy fit about Denness charging SRT with ball tampering and got the right of the referee to bring charges removed. Aleem Dar, Bowden or Shastri could have brought charges, Broad could not and neither could your hypothetical ‘new age’ asian match referee.
    You said: “Chris Broad could have done something about it. He did not.”
    You’re wrong he could not have done anything, and the reason he could not were the changes made at the behest of the BCCI.

  14. Gimme a break. How long would it take for the Match Referee to sidle up to the TV Umpire and say, “Mate. Did you see that White incident? Everything ok?”

    If it were an Asian bloke, he’d have done that. Because it was White he sat on his fingers.

    Remember, this was the bloke that said that the umpire at Mohali was wrong to not refer a stumping decision upstairs! He has got form on his side!

  15. @Phil

    Good point. I now understand more fully your comment re: Denness and BCCI. Thanks.

    But as Raghuram said, one can always achieve a desired outcome through means.

    On the issue of ball-condition-altering, Law 42.3 clearly states that the Match Referee shall take action on the basis of a reporting by any of the umpires.

    Fair enough. And that is the point I made. Aleem Dar let the game move on because he made the assessment — rightly — that there was no malice intended by White. Asian blokes are not afforded the same largesse/latitude. That was my hypothesis all along.

    However, let us look at the over rates issue, shall we?

    Section D.7(c) of the code of conduct says that a Match Referee duties include, but are not limited to
    (c) investigating and adjudicating upon alleged breaches of the Rules of Conduct notified to him (including over rate breaches and breaches of clothing and equipment regulations).

    The important words there are “investigating and adjudicating” and “notified to him (including over rate breaches…)”

    Let us assume that Chris Broad was indeed “notified” by the umpires about the Australian over rate at Tea time on day-4. Let us give Broad the benefit of doubt here.

    Why did he then “take it upon himself” to walk over to the Australian dressing room to warn Ricky Ponting of the impending fine that he might have no option but to impose?

    Did he act within the rules? Or was he seeking to protect “a highly competitive, focussed, usually good, fierce, Australian bloke who may have unwittingly let something slip from his mind”?

    His role was to investigate and adjudicate and not to warn during a passage in play.

    Yet he did so.

    Go figure…

    — Mohan

  16. Phil

    It is the same Chris Broad who according to reports I read that went and told the OZ team that Ponting is likely to be banned if the over rate doesn’t improve. If that is true, he had no business to do that.

    Mohan
    Thanks for the logical, fact-based and analytical write up. Pass on your article to Shashank Manohar and Arjuna so that they can take up the recommendation at the next I(ncompetent )C(olonial) C(ouncil) meeting.

  17. I was watching the overthrow incident live on TV, and I am pretty confident that while complaining Ponting was mouthing ‘bullshit’ a couple of times.

    Not sure if the umpires consider that abuse if it comes from one of the ‘good blokes’, especially who is a captain and should know better.

  18. A lot of this is about personalities, rather than race. As you say, Aleem Dar is mild natured, and he let White go. Hair would have penalised him. People like Dickie Bird would probably do the same as Aleem Dar. It is very easy to pick out I would be surprised if Bowden hadn’t shushed Ponting at least once in his career. (and you left out (d) – the captains are usually given more leeway that others to ask questions – if only Ponting actually did that politely!)

    Match referees are tricky – as has been pointed out, it’s up to the umpires to report things (and umpires can’t report ball-tampering without a 5 run penalty… dodgy law), and some of the referees seem to think they’re still players. I’d definitely like to see umpires, Asian or not, stand up to the Aussies more. You’ve definitely got a point about the current Asian referees lacking some teeth, even though they are usually very fair. Hopefully, though, we will more to the point where all the referees treat all the players the same way.

  19. Paul Collingwood got banned from a couple of matches because of slow over rates.

    Ponting was fined twice this year.

    There’s a lot of context, and subtle variables that are present in each situation that can’t be summarized in a blog. While I agree that there should be more new age Asian referees, there should also be more new age Australian/English/West Indian etc referees. Nothing wrong with competition and from the recent history of the BCCI it’s quite evident that they are more than willing to take action if they feel the Indian team is hard done by.

  20. Very good analysis Mohan.

    This is the response I had posted in the Cricinfo piece from Samir Chopra.

    – No one has mentioned Cameron White fiddling with the leather and “altering the condition of the ball” which led to prodigious reverse swing on 4th day

    – Until Sachin brought Billy’s attention, none of the umpire thought of reprimanding Brad Haddin for throwing the cap. It is difficult to digest that a test player doesnt know the rules

    – You are quite right, Asian umpires / referees are reluctant in reporting non Asian players. Where is Ranjan Madugalle thrived on punishing Indian players.

    – What about Brad Haddin dropping F word on Television !! Sky Sports was sensitive enough to apologise, but is this the image Australia is projecting to budding cricketers? No slap on the wrist there?

    – India was accused of slow over rate, when Dhoni actually completed about 89 overs in a day, what about Mitchy angling across all day with 7-2 field?

    —-

    You should send this analysis to people who can take this up in ICC. And you are spot on for “Ganguly for Change”

  21. “But as Raghuram said, one can always achieve a desired outcome through means.”
    Indeed, but if Broad asked Dar about the White issue and Dar said “it’s ok we dealt with it on the field”, that’s it, nothing more for Broad to do.

    “However, let us look at the over rates issue, shall we?

    Section D.7(c) of the code of conduct says that a Match Referee duties include, but are not limited to
    (c) investigating and adjudicating upon alleged breaches of the Rules of Conduct notified to him (including over rate breaches and breaches of clothing and equipment regulations).

    Note my emphasis in bold, before that the CofC says The Referee shall manage and have ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the Test Matches. In my view if he thinks that either team is bowling at an unacceptably slow rate he would be acting within his duties to tell a representative of the team “your over rate is unacceptably low, sort it out”.
    However, we don’t know that he did so, and it’s also possible for a member of the team’s staff to work out how far the team is behind the rate, it’s not ‘rocket science’, it was clear to anyone following the match that the Aussies were well behind throughout the match.

    “Let us assume that Chris Broad was indeed “notified” by the umpires about the Australian over rate at Tea time on day-4. Let us give Broad the benefit of doubt here.”

    This is one thing that he doesn’t need umpire input for, one of his responsibilities before the match is to arrange with the official scorers to be given the necessary data to calculate the over-rates.

    There should indeed be more good referees (I’ve always thought that Mike Procter was not a good one, H Singh I thought was a good one but he disappeared off the panel). Broad is I think one of the good ones, India get him for quite a few of their matches and of course he doesn’t get England games, but as above the referee is often blamed for the shortcomings of the umpires.

  22. Excellent article about the match-referee situation! We keep getting foisted with Broad all the time!
    Regarding the Mahabharata story, I am not sure if the fish(y) business was during the war. I think it was during an archery competition (in the forests) when the Pandavas were kids. Drona had dangled the fish from a tree and when asked each of the Pandavas (and Kauravas, I think) what they saw, all of them except for Arjuna said that they saw the fish. Arjuna replied that he saw only the eye of the fish, and this gladdened Drona greatly. It struck me that a fish on the battle-field was (and sounded) like a rather strange thing.

  23. @Bala

    I believe the legend is about a bird and not a fish. However, that was how it was reported in The Age and I stuck with that analogy. Legend is that Krishna asked the Pandavas what they saw. One said “a forest”, another said, “a tree”, one said “a bird” and Arjuna said, “eye of a bird”.

  24. Legend about “Eye of the Fish” came from Draupadi Swayamvar in Mahabharata, where the candidate had to pierce through the fish eye in order to win Draupadi’s hand…

  25. chris hutchinson

    I havent got time to go back over each comment but one contributor referred to this not “being about Asinn insecurity”.

    There is clearly thought from many of you that Asian’s (interesting use of a collective all of a sudden) are dudded by the ICC. Therein lies the only issue at hand. Whether you are right or wrong is irrelevant.

    The fact is competent referees at this point in time from Asia appear few and far between.

    You are battling to get competent umpires from those areas and you can jump up and down about that all you want.

    I suspect many of the willing and competent candidates (are there any) are too afraid to take the roll for fear of what will happen to them if they transgress against someone from the Asian-bloc.

    The fact that I have to use the phrase disappoints me.

  26. chris hutchinson

    PS. Anyone who thinks that Mr Hair, regardless of their opinions about him, no-balled Murali because he was bigger than the game is kidding themselves and furthermore has failed to acknowledge how the rules have changed to suit him (and others).

    Don’t throw hyper-extension at me! That was the vehicle used to justify the changes at the time.

    Thank god Australia now has an off-spinner prepared to throw the ball now.

    I dont like Krezja’s action but he’s the first offie I have seen from this country prepared to test the now perfectly legal method of bowling slow off breaks.

  27. @chris

    The fundamental issue at play here is that old-block countries like Australia and England are offered far more latitude. McGrath was going through a bad time when the Sarawan incident happened. Atherton didn’t really intend malice when the sand-in-the-hand thing happened. Ponting really didn’t mean to argue with Billy [it is not just my fingers that are crooked] Bowden.

    When was the last time that an “Asian” was offered such “latitude”? And please do not mention mutinies like the Mike Denness issue or Monkeygate!

    Procter’s ruling was based on that “latitude”. His view was, “I believe these guys. They are good, honest blokes.”

    It is no longer about “right or wrong” and yes, it is relevant. Was X wrong to argue with the umpires. No if it was Ponting. Yes, if it was Laxman. Laxman gets dudded. Malcolm [Simple Man] Conn whips out the stats book, thumps his chest and claims that India is the most badly behaved team in world cricket.

    Right is relevant. But if it is interpreted differently, it is totally irrelevant.

    At the moment, “right” is indeed interpreted differently. There are a bunch of folks that are “inherently good” and there are a bunch of folks that are “inherently bad”!

    I agree that there are few competent referees from the subcontinent now.

    It is good to see Aleem Dar, Asad Rauf, Ashoka Desilve and Saheba come through the ranks as umpires.

    And I do not believe that there is a worry about transgression from the Asian bloc! I’d expect Indian players and BCCI to accept a decision from Aleem Dar or Asad Rauf any day than from Darryl Hair.

    Chris: There is an irony there in that statement which you perhaps will not understand!

    Darryl Hair is another topic for another day. Personally, I have no sympathy for him at all.

  28. chris hutchinson

    @Mohan,

    That’s Ok! You’ll just have to put up with bad umpiring more often.

  29. @Chris

    “You’ll” or “We’ll”.

  30. Roshan Mahanama, made a f’g blunder when he rapped Gambhir with a fine for what was a COMPLETE co incidence

    He’s a f’g moron to give it a “physical” angle – and it didn’t hurt anybody till Gamhir was banned in the test series.

    I agree to your post in general, but some Asians are just sissies and when elevated to post such as referees – tend to do things just because they have to (there definitely was a lot of heated exchange between Gambhir and Afridi that day), and throw the rationale out of the window.

  31. chris hutchinson

    @Mohan,

    Very clever! “We’ll”.

    I am merely stating that I do feel Taufell is far and away the best. Makes mistakes though.

    ‘Reckon Paul Reiffel will make a good IU but I dont know anything about non-Australians.

  32. “I dont know anything about non-Australians”

    Yes, that has been made painfully obvious from many of your past posts.

  33. Great stuff Mohan, Spot On Matey.

    vandy

  34. Mohan

    I remember there was a total tool on here called Sampath who banged the table and was asking you to write a tribute to Kumble. You wrote a nice one. He did not even have the common decency to comment on it. He then got involved with you on several needless arguments. All of us asked you to lay off such a useless and gutless person. He kept needling you. And you continued to tolerated him. Then he demanded angrily and asked you why Asian Match Refs were needed. You have again posted a brilliant post. So beautifully collated and presented. But there is not even a minor acknowledgement from the truly gutless Sampath. May his tribe be extinct forever.

  35. By the way I agree with everything you wrote. We need the bridge the cultural gap in cricket. And the way to do it with Asian Match Referees. We need to also be less tolerant of the Australian approach. They keep saying “We play the game in a hard but fair manner”. What makes them think that other people like to play the game in a “hard but unfair manner” or a “soft but unfair manner” or a “soft but fair manner”? They must keep reinforcing to everyone that they play in a “hard but fair manner” becuase they must doubt both aspects of their play! The sooner Match Referees realise that and the sooner Match Referees look at the actual rather than the “spin” the better world cricket will be.

    The REVENGE OF SYDNEY is over.

    Let us move forward.

  36. Great article. I’d like to add one more incident to the mix. Partly because this is an incident I never ever see mentioned, although to me it is more blatant an example than the oft-quoted Slater-Dravid incident. And partly because it featured the angel of good behavior – St. Adam of Australia.

    This happened about 5-6 years back. An Australia-WI series in Australia. St. Adam was the captain, because, I think Steve Waugh was injured. The Aussies were bowling, and already in a very comfortable position, as they have almost always been against WI at home. Venkatraghavan was the umpire. An appeal was made for LBW, but Venkat turned it down. St. Adam looked really upset and had a few words with Venkat. A while later, another appeal made, also turned down. According to the TV commentators, both were good decisions. But St. Adam was fretting and fuming, and constantly saying something to Venkat.

    Wait, it gets better. In a few minutes, the session ended, and St. Adam started to walk back in a huff, ball in his gloves. Venkat called out to him, and asked for the ball, because the ball must be with umpires during breaks. St. Adam turns around….. he was maybe about 20 yards from Venkat…. and flings the ball really hard, and with visible disdain, towards Venkat. The ball flies over Venkat’s head and goes to the boundary. Venkat calmly walks all the way to the boundary and picks up the ball even as St. Adam is walking away in a trenchant huff.

    Although the Channel Nine commentators criticized St. Adam’s behavior, there was no action on this blatant insubordination from the match referees. Mainly because, I am sure, Venkat didn’t go and report the incident. Can you imagine if this had been done to a white umpire? It would have resulted in massive bans. so yes, you are right. More “new age” match referees and even umpires are needed.

  37. @ Gaurav,

    How do we know, if poor Venkat did report the incident (that match was played in Adelaide in Dec 2000), but the match referee Alan Smith chose not to take any action against St. Adam, the epitome of niceness.

  38. i don’t think so

  39. What about the 5 or 6 odd matches that Rashid Latif was banned for claiming a bump catch by Mike Procter. This was by the same match referee who had a greater responsibility to act in the sydney test when Clarke claimed a bump ball against Ganguly but he didn’t. I say greater because in this test series both the captains had agreed to take the fielders’ word for doubtful catches – a decision which was made with consent from the match referee too.

  40. Excellent one….. I think u missed to mention one incident here, that is Brad Haddin throwing his gloves on to the ball to stop the ball from rolling further. Yes, 5 runs were awarded to India, as a penalty. But the act from this Aussie keeper was very very cheap since Cricket is (or am afraid “was”) a “Gntleman’s game”… Anyway its a great article and keep posting like this, so that we can read our minds on the desktop screen…

  41. Nice and brilliantly articulated. I would like to add one more important thing to your caption – “We need Courageous Asian Referees”, not dare to take any kind of decision against the wrong doers. Let them also feel the pinch of heat on their…. too.

  42. phenomenally well written-actually I am going to sue you for making my blood boil 🙂

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