Category Archives: Umpire

In a perfect World!

In Mohan’s earlier post, ‘Deadlocked Australia v India (2007-2008): Where does it all go now?’ he mentioned that all parties in this drama need to take up the responsibility. While I totally agree, the one single event that has caused this affair to reach boiling point is obviously Mike Proctor’s mind boggling decision on Harbhanjan Singh. What was he thinking? Did he expect to be applauded for handling the situation in a fair and professional manner. What a joke.

The Indians felt that the Harbhajan incident was adding insult to injury and quite rightly so. There wouldn’t have been such a stand-off but for Proctor’s decision. For all we know, the Indians may have actually agreed to play the Perth test ‘under protest’ for allowing Steve Bucknor to officiate and carried on.

The law is simple, innocent until proven guilty. Here, there was no proof. Nothing heard on the microphone or camera, just one’s word against the other. Which begs the question What are the criteria for the ICC to choose match referees? What qualifications are required? Surely, they need not be trained lawyers but should at least know when a situation is out of their league and need to be referred to a bigger panel or commission. I honestly think the ICC should take up a big chunk of the blame for the following:

Allowing a 61 year old to stand up to one of the most demanding jobs in a cricket field –

In an ideal world a much younger and fitter umpire like a Simon Taufel or an Aleem Dar could have ensured that the Indians didn’t get a raw deal and hence no umpiring controversy would have marred this otherwise high quality Test.

Not adequately training match referees to handle sensitive cases –
Again, in a ideal world, Proctor would have had the training and perhaps more commonsense to say that he did not have enough evidence to make a decision, but the allegation was serious enough to be handled by a qualified professional panel.

But then in a ideal world (atleast for Indian fans), India would have won the Sydney Test after taking a first innings lead of 300 runs!

On that note, here is a well written article that appeared on The Hindu

Vish

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Interesting interviews with Jim Maxwell and Harsha Bhogle

I came across a couple of interesting interviews with two respected cricket commentators who are currently part of the ABC Grandstand team – Jim Maxwell and Harsha Bhogle.

– Jim Maxwell : Video link and transcript

– Harsha Bhogle : Audio link

In addition, you can also listen to Cricinfo’s Siddartha Vaidyanathan’s views as well as Peter Lalor’s interview on ABC

Vish

Sreesanth fined…

Sreesanth was fined 25% of his match fee for excessive appealing in the T20 semi-final. And the entire Indian team has been fined for its slow over rate, having bolwed one over short of its quota in the allowed time in the same game. All players were docked 5% for this offence while M. S. Dhoni wore a 10% levy on his match fee.

The adjudicating referee was Chris Broad… Enuf said!

Sreesanth did carry on like a pork chop in that particular appeal. I will be the first to admit that. But I am sure the same referee may have said, “It is good to see young players showing such controlled aggression on the field. We do not want to deveop robots but players that play with passion”, or some such nonsensical and radom string of cliched platitudes if it had been a Brett Lee or a Shane Bond that had carried on in the same manner.

This is not persecution complex speak, although I am leaving myself open to such an interpretation/judgement. However, I have seen many a referee turn a blind eye to similar ‘shows of dissent’ providing the “passion-robot” argument as cover.

I was watching the game with a friend of mine and we debated Sreesanth’s aggression mid-way through the game.

As I have said before on several occasions on this blogsite, I am not a fan of sledging. I do not believe sledging should have a place in world cricket. However, it does exist and it is not a scourge that is going to go away. I am comfortable to accept that.

In this landscape, we talked about whether or not Sreesanth should “be changed”. I personally think not. For two reasons. I do not believe it should be either necessary, or indeed possible, to change a John McEnroe into a Bjorn Borg. Indeed, it would be wrong. Each player derived their energy from their manner and to straight-jacket one would be both wrong as well as harmful to the player. Sressanth is an atypical Indian bloke. He wears his heart on his sleeve and demonstrates his passions and emotions externally. That is where he derives his energy from. So, just as each of the fingers of our hands are different, we should try and tolerate this difference that exists. The South Africans do and this allows them to tolerate and accept Andre Nel and Jacques Kallis in the same team. The former would rather spend the rest of his life in a night club while the latter treats the cricket field as though it were a monastry! In my view, Indians should learn to tolerate and indeed celebrate this difference too even though it breaks the mould as well as the stereotype that “we” are used to. And of course, even that stereotype is changing. As India herself changes into a more progressive and world-aware nation that demands to be heard on the world-stage, her people are changing too. So cultural stereotypes will change — perhaps even in our own lifetime — and Sreesanth is perhaps the first of this new generation.

Of course, the player in question would look silly if he carried on like a pork chop without either the talent or the results that would be necessary and required to back it. Even though I personally do not like too much carry-on on the field — and that is my personal opinion on this matter — I am not suggesting that each player be delivered a straight-jacket along with his cap on debut. I would be happy to let each player be his own, but they would need to show results on the field for the team and they should not let the team down with their antics. And in my view, apart from that one afternoon of madness in England, Sreesanth is doing just that — he is delivering results for the team.

And so, in my view, rather than jump up and down and deliver a straight-jacket to Sreesanth because his antics clash with our own personal frames of reference (and I say this because a lot of ex-cricketers have tried to do just that) we should learn to tolerate this difference. Who knows? Over time we may even celebrate it!

— Mohan

Three interesting Pieterson incidents

Rewind to the Test series and we remember how Pieterson was given out caught behind by Simon Taufel. As Pieterson walked back and almost reached the boundary line, looking back, his compatriots in the balcony urged him to stay and go back. Television replays had shown that the ball hit the ground before going into Dhoni’s gloves. Pieterson stayed and was recalled by Taufel.

Fast forward to yesterday’s game at Bristol. Pieterson chased down a ball to the boundary and almost saved a certain boundary. But as he picked up the ball, his hand clearly brushed the ropes. Pietorson just got up and threw the ball back to the keeper as if nothing had happened. Of course this time it was not the reserve Indian players in the balcony, but the third umpire who alerted the on field umpire and the boundary was declared. TV commentator Gavaskar thrives on these situations. He immediately was up in arms saying “If a fielder claims a catch that may have hit the ground he is labelled a cheat! What about a fielder who knows it is a four but would rather let technology do its job!”

And finally the Pieterson dismissal yesterday. Chawla got him with a flighed leg break that hardly turned. Pieterson playing for the turn, was beated in the flight and bowled through the gate. Pieterson could not believe it and as he walked back mouthed the words “He bowled me?” to Bell. Pieterson kept looking back at the field as he reached the boundary line but unfortunately there were no English players signalling him from the balcony!

— Sanjay

England Vs India: Test 2 Day 3 — England claw back…

On an intriguing day of Test cricket, England had their first good session of the ongoing Test match between England and India at Trent Bridge.

However, things did not go Englands’ way to start off. India had a solid first session on day-3 and did exactly what the doctor ordered — to see off the new ball and keep the scoreboard ticking. Ganguly looked assured and played with hunger. He was often seen egging his more illustrious partner on whenever Tendulkar played and missed to Sidebottom. The fire and hunger seemed to back in Ganguly. So also the swagger. He had even hooked Tremlett for a huge six over squre leg! And what’s more, to rub salt into the bowlers’ wounds, he made Tremlett wait at the top of his bowling mark as he turned sideways to admire the shot on the grounds’ TV screen! He was doing a Ganguly as only Ganguly can! This was a session that was India’s all the way. The forecast would have been ominous for England at lunch time. The scoreboard read 338/3. India had made 82 runs in 28 overs, had seen off the new ball and were playing Panesar with aplomb. Tendulkar was on 87 and Ganguly was on 53. Tendulkar was looking good for a century and even though Ganguly was 47 runs away from a three-figure mark, it seemed almost inevitable that he’d cross the three-figure mark too — he was playing as well as I have seen him play in a long time.

The first session of day-3 was clearly Indias’. Our session-by-session score card would have read 5-0 to India after 6 sessions of the match had been played.

At lunch time, England would have been looking for inspiration from somewhere. Maybe even an extra pair of legs! Maybe a fresh body? And that they did find. Suddenly, in the post-lunch session, it appeared as if England were playing with 12 players!

They clawed their way back into the match and even recruited an Australian to help them along in their journey. Tendulkar and Ganguly were sent packing by the Antipodean and England managed to get Dhoni out with their normal complement of players. Session 2 of day-3 had belonged to England.

Simon Taufel had a bad day at the office and unfortunately, the next time one of our Indian media pundits (or couch potato fans) adjust their spectacles, settle themselves comfortably into their chair/couch, dig the record book to say “it has been X innings since Ganguly/Tendulkar scored a century“, or “the last time Tendulkar/Ganguly scored a century was against a minnow“, the fact that the two players were robbed of certain centuries will have been forgotten. The record books merely state “SR Tendulkar lbw b Collingwood 91” and “SC Ganguly c Prior b Anderson 79“. And that is all there is to it. And that is all the scoreboard can say. You accept the good with the bad and move on. As Ganguly said phlegmatically, in his post-match, “You have to live with it“.

Just as Cook was not out, but given out in Englands’ first innings, the Indian team has to live with these two shockers from the normally good Antipodean.

And we should not really be making a big deal out of these screw-ups. We have to accept the good with the bad and move on. That’s exactly what Tendulkar did, and after a brief mind-fuse, Ganguly seemed to have accepted it too.

However, the worrying thing for Taufel would be his form. He has made some good decisions in this series so far. Of that there is no doubt. But he did send (if I am not mistaken) Dravid and Pietersen packing in the first Test. His handling of Cook, Tendulkar and Ganguly in this current Test could be the onset of a pattern. Just as players need to look at their form and their match preparedness, perhaps it is time for Taufel to stand back to take stock?

Jonathan Agnew, in his BBC blog, says that these two decisions ultimately “did not affect India’s position unduly“. Firstly, it is irrelevant whether or not it did. Secondly, I think it could well affect India’s position. Time will tell. However, I predict — perhaps foolishly — that there may well be a few more twists left in this match! More of that later.

England used their luck as a platform to claw their way into the match. Some will even say that they created their slice of luck — and that would be fair enough in my books! They stuck to their task manfully. Apart from Anderson who had suddenly started to look like the Anderson of old, all the other bowlers stuck to their task. Sidebottom and Panesar were particularly impressive. Their fielding never waned. Their players continued to chirp and chatter. One such monologue from Pietersen had perhaps crossed the line. It certainly caused Zaheer Khan to advance towards the slips cordon, threatening to introduce Pietersen’s face to the bat makers’ label. Perhaps Pietersen had asked about Zaheer Khan’s bat contract! As Andrew Miller says on Cricinfo, England need to talk less and bat more.

But then they did claw their way back into the game. Session-3 of day-3 also belonged to England, in my books. Although they did let Kumble get some runs and, in the process, develop a 50-run partnership with Laxman, they did polish off the India tail. They then batted sensibly and positively for the remaining 16 overs to end the day at 43 for no loss. England was helped by some poor bowling by Sreesanth. He seemed to be all over the place. He seemed to have lost his balance, his rhythm and his composure. He seemed horribly undercooked. Nasser Hussain, in his TV commentary, commented that Sreesanth did not bowl a single ball of pace in the morning nets! He bowled leg-spin instead! While Sreesanth appeared to be falling apart, Hussain commented, “I have no sympathy for the lad really.” Sreesanth’s final over of the day lasted nearly 7 minutes as he stuttered and spluttered his way to completion in an embarassing manner. It didn’t help either that Zaheer Khan and R. P. Singh seemed to be intent on bouncing out Strauss and Cook. But Sreesanth was the major disappointment for me. He would, I think, need an extended session in the nets with Venkatesh Prasad. If he doesn’t get his act together — and quickly — we could well see Romesh Powar as an extra spinner in the team for the 3rd and final The Oval Test match.

The match is delicately poised. My session-by-session score card reads, India 5, England 2. India is clearly in front. And they will be looking to Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan to deliver them the goods. They’d need a solid bowling performance on a somewhat unhelpful pitch. The first session of day-4 could again hold the key. India should, I believe, adopt a batten-down-the-hatches-at-one-end policy while they attack from the other.

England have another 240 to get India to bat again. If the England openers build a good foundation, like the Indian openers did, then a Pietersen cameo can help wipe off the lead. From there on, it could be anyones’ match, in my view. England have their work cut out. But India have not done enough to ensure they do not bat again. As I said earlier, I don’t think the chapter on this Test match can be written, completed and set off to the sub-editors’ desk. The pitch is still playing reasonably well. Day-3 may have been the best day for batting, but I did not see any signs that would indicate that the pitch would deteriorate dramatically on day-4. The odd ball is keeping low, which would lead me to conclude that day-5 could be extremely tricky on this pitch. Which is why I don’t agree with Jonathan Agnew. Another 60-70 runs would have meant that India cannot lose this match. Although India is clearly in the drivers’ seat, if England have an exceptional day-4, it could lead to an extremely interesting day-5 of this game. The weather forecast is for two good days.

All I can say is “bring it on”.

— Mohan

South Africa loses decider – The Pessimist’s report

The Optimist is having a hangover after the celebrations last night, so here is a report from the Pessimst on how South Africa lost the match and India did not win it.

  • India was lucky to win a second toss in a row and bowl first on a wicket that eased up later in the innings.
  • Kallis made the mistake of playing the rusty Steyn in this crucial match. Definitely Philander, Langevelt or the spinner Tshabalala would have been a better choice.
  • South Africa had the worst possible day in the field in a long long time. How many catches went down. How many run out chances missed. How many fumbles in the field.
  • JP Duminy was out LBW to a ball pitched outside the leg stump. Aleem Dar also had a horrible day.
  • Yuvraj Singh again alternated between scratchy batting and good shots. Any of his scratches could have got him out.
  • Dravid after 15 years of experience forgot to ground his bat and got himself run out. Shows how Indian batsmen are still not sound on their fundamentals.
  • Kallis also erred in not bringing himself on earlier when the Indians were struggling. He should have kept Ntini for the end.
  • In the final result South Africa managed to lose a match that they really should have won.

– Sanjay

Indian Umpire in Elite Panel…

Suresh Shastri makes his debut as an umpire in ICC’s Elite Panel when he officiates in the first Test in Colombo between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on Monday25 June. This will be the first Indian umpire officiating as an ICC Elite Panel umpire after a gap of 50 Test! The lase Indian Test umpire before Shastri was K. Hariharan.

The 51-year old Suresh Shastri was a left-arm spinner for Rajasthan before turning to umpiring.

The ICC Elite Panel is now:


Matches | Name (country)
174 R. E. Koertzen (RSA)
163 S. A. Bucknor (WI)
141 D. J. Harper (Aus)
131 D. B. Hair (Eng)
116 S. J. A. Taufel (Aus)
114 B. F. Bowden (NZ)
88 A. Dar (Pak)
68 B. R. Doctrove (WI)
48 M. R. Benson (Eng)
45 A. Rauf (Pak)
0 S. Shastri (Ind)

— Mohan