Home > Zimbabwe > Opinion: On Britain banning Zimbabwe Cricket tour…

Opinion: On Britain banning Zimbabwe Cricket tour…

I recently came across this article from Zimbabwe about not just the politicisation of Cricket in the Zim/UK-Aus context, but also about using cricket as some sort of a tool to make the statement.

People make statements on this blog as well about Zimbabwe, and also the underlying implication of every Zim related Cricinfo article is that Zim should be banned by the ICC. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but things have to be kept in perspective. ICC should NOT be making political statements, and ezines should not be pushing the ICC to do so. There is enough against Zim cricket administration on administrative grounds to be going after them rather than just doing so because of contemporary politics.

It is quite well known, as is also mentioned in the article above, that Cricket is not really the sport that the black population cares about that much, except for a few, in Zim. So thinking that banning Zim is going to suddenly put everyone under pressure in Zim, and going to make them long for the “glory days”, is silly, and is not going to send any message to anyone.

The implication that Zim is “not really interested” in playing cricket is however, a valid reason to put pressure on them regarding their test status. In early 2006, Zim was not that enthusiastic about giving a 5 ODI tour to Kenya ! ICC had to literally intervene and force Zim to play. This was not because of any other reason, but because Zim board was afraid that losing to Kenya would open the floodgates of criticism about their status. They didnt lose, but the 2-2 draw was enough to still open the floodgates. The fact that Zim has played only 11 ODIs outside of the World Cup in 2007, is not a good sign, and one cannot stop wondering why it is so difficult for the ICC to ask them to host at least the top associates.

An ICC committee gave their view sometime back that Zim should be playing in the intercontinental cup. This I thought was an excellent recommendation. If Zim was able to be victorious there, they would also have gotten at least the confidence to get back into test status. Right now there are test teams, intercontinental teams, and one team which is neither!

Britain banning Zim like this also puts pressure on Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands to follow suit. None of that is good for development of cricket because it is very unlikely that these countries would start getting games against Test opposition like Australia. Zim, Bangladesh etc are the best chances that the top associates had in order to make their case stronger for better funding and for a harder look by the ICC and other test playing nations.

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Categories: Zimbabwe
  1. Chris
    January 7, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    I agree with you here Nasir. Many people like to politicize cricket by making reference to Zimbabwe and Mugabe and his being patron of Zimbabwe Cricket I think – even though Musharraf of Pakistan is also patron of the PCB I believe and until recently was also a military man ruling the country as President, something that would normally be seen as de facto military rule everywhere else. A lot of commentators also like to pour bile on Zimbabwe’s cricket because of the way Mugabe is running the country. The inference underlying their arguments seems to be that the ICC banned South Africa for Apartheid and so should ban Zimbabwe for Mugabe.

    However the two are not even remotely similar other than that the majority of the population faced hardships under Apartheid and under Mugabe’s economic mismangement and repression. Under apartheid, a large number of South Africans were systematically excluded from most anything (including cricket) because of their skin colour. In Zimbabwe today that isn’t so as there are a couple of white Zimbabweans on the team and neither white nor black Zimbabweans are excluded. Had Mugabe instituted a reverse apartheid and said that no whites were allowed, then I would be all for banning Zimbabwe, but the truth is that the cricket team and cricket players are victims in Zimbabwe and not the perpretrators. The team and players cannot be responsible for the economic situation and runaway inflation and to think so is silly. And banning the team will not suddenly embolden them to start demonstrating against Mugabe (the Zimbabwean opposition did that and they got beaten very badly) or better yet overthrow him (unless all the team were crack military men trained by the best special forces in world).

    ZimbabweCricket is responsible for a number of errors and mismangement of cricket in Zimbabwe and they should be pulled to task, but if Gordon Brown bans the team from touring then that won’t be achieved. All it will do is punish the cricket players and save the cricket administrators some money and potential embarrassment since the world won’t have to see (again and again) how their administrative mismangement has drastically lowered the quality of th team. Any ban also won’t affect Mugabe in the least since Zimbabwe has been banned or ostracized before by England, New Zealand and Australia and Mugabe hasn’t changed his tack. And believing that doing something like this would force Mugabe to change is to believe that England (the UK), New Zealand or Australia have more power over Zimbabwe than they actually do. Lumping the team, players, clubs, cricket administration and Mugabe all together as Zimbabwe and criticizing them and attempting to ostracize them is to oversimplify the issue. At any rate, all this focus on Zimbabwe underlies an obvious double standard:
    (1) people want to ostracize Zimbabwe for Mugabe’s economic mismangement, while elsewhere in the world other countries mismange their economies (not nearly as badly as Zimbabwe) and nobody says a peep about punishing them through cricket (or sport in general)
    (2) people also want to ostracize Zimbabwe for Mugabe’s political repression, while elsewhere when Musharraf was doing questionable things in Pakistan nobody said anything. And while the communist party still rules in China and Cuba (and by all accounts lock up dissidents and suppress free speech – although not so much these days in Cuba as I seem to remember reading that some were released) nobody calls for China or Cuba to be banned. When Myanmar’s general cracked down on unarmed monks I never say anyone saying that Myanmar’s cricket body should be suspended from the ICC and its players and team banned from matches against all opposition.

    So in general, a lot of these comments are hypocritical since they single out one country and are blind to others. By all means the ICC needs to do something about the way ZimbabweCricket runs the game, but unless the UN gets involved and issues a sporting ban (as it did for South Africa – yet another difference) the ICC shouldn’t start making itself into a political organization by banning countries over politics. And clamouring for the ICC to do so is barking up the wrong tree (the right tree is the UN and the right forum is some UN blog or discussion board).

    And if the ICC did ban Zimbabwe it might actually have the reverse effect than was intended by its proponents – instead of forcing ZimbabweCricket to clean up its act and forcing Mugabe to change it might just lead to death of cricket in Zimbabwe since it seems to be more a form of employment (or at least something to pass the time) than a popular sport in Zimbabwe (according to the link you gave Nasir) and what happens when you remove that source of employment (or start to make a pastime prohibitively expensive)? Well naturally people try to find other work (or cheaper pastimes). In a situation as desparate as Zimbabwe the cricketers are going to move on to other activities (such as finding a second job) since any ban would now make cricket not just a waste of time, but a waste of money (the players would have to start forking out lots of money to keep it running since any ban means the ICC funding would no longer be available – so even if the players weren’t getting paid before they probably wouldn’t have been paying through their noses to play and so now that the situation has changed they would have better things to do with that money like buying food before the price goes up again).

    When Mugabe is finally gone (as he will be, the fella is about 80 years old after all) and things turn around in Zimbabwe (as they will eventually) I wonder how future Zimbabwean leaders, cricket administrators, cricket players and teams will take to Australia, New Zealand and England (my guess is that the players at least won’t have fond views of those countries and in particular their leadership).

    Oh and if Zimbabwe is banned by the British government it will mean that the ban is automatic for England and Scotland (so Scotland won’t be pressured into banning Zimbabwe since Scotland doesn’t have separate immigration controls). Ireland might be pressured as the ban would also be in effect for Northern Ireland, although Ireland could just simply host the Zimbabwe team in Dublin.

  2. Nishadh Rego
    January 7, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    lets have your opinions on the current India-Australia fiasco Nasir. I’m interested to hear everyone’s views.

  3. Roland Ilube
    January 8, 2008 at 4:18 am

    I know the issue is not strictly within the remit of this blog but I like Rego would like to hear the opinions of the generally mature and sensible people who contribute here on the India/Australia issue. Every other blog I have looked at where this has been discussed people seem to have lost all sense of objectivity.

    Nasir perhaps you can indulge us on this one. I can give you my 2 cents worth to start with if you like

  4. January 8, 2008 at 5:17 am

    While I don’t think the ICC should be going around banning teams because their politicis means they are direct antagonists of the supposedly ‘righteous’ and ‘democratic’ western powers there should be enough evidence of financial mismanagement for the ICC to take serious punitive action against the board

  5. Rich B
    January 8, 2008 at 8:03 am

    The insinuation of the article that you link to that the Brown government is verging on racist for focusing on Zimbabwean problems and ignoring those of other nations is completely ridiculous. He says that ‘nobody says anything’ when black people kill other people, like in Kenya. Any understanding of UK news reporting over the last week will realise this palpably isn’t true.

    The violence is different in an important way, though. Those killed in Kenya have been the poor victims of vigilante gangs who have seemed to dish out carnage almost at random on those from other tribes. Those killed, maimed and tortured by Mugabe are part of a systematic plan to weild and keep power, and put down all resistance.

    Nasir, your point that having Zimbabwe involved in international competitions would be good for international Associate cricket is not in dispute. But whether or not to allow them is a political and not a cricket decision. By stating that they should be allowed, you are effectively making a political statement that Zimbabwe is in good enough shape not to be boycotted by other countries.

    I would love to see bilateral tours between Zimbabwe and Scotland/Ireland, etc, and certainly their appearance in England at the next Twenty20 World Cup, but the decision as to whether this will bolster a despotic regime I will happily leave to the politicians.

  6. Chris
    January 8, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Found this yesterday:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2008/01/04/sczimb104.xml

    Apparently the British government is looking to make a deal with Zimbabwe, whereby they wouldn’t ban Zimbabwe’s athletes from competing in the 2012 Olympics if Zimbabwe agrees to scrap the 2009 tour (not sure if the deal would include Zimbabwe voluntarily staying away from the 2009 World Twenty20 as well).

    If they are actually trying to negotiate such a deal, then they are assuming a lot in doing so. First Mugabe is 83 years old going on 84. By the the time of the scheduled 2009 tour he will be 85. By the time of the 2012 Olympics he will be 88….if he isn’t already dead. Now if he does die before that time then more than likely the British government at the time wouldn’t want to ban Zimbabwe anymore. Which raises the next point. By 2012 there would already have been a general election in the UK (2010 at the latest) and it is no certainty that Gordon Brown is going to be Prime Minister in 2012. If he isn’t and Mugabe is still around then the fellow who succeeds Gordon Brown might either be willing to try different tactics with Mugabe or he might wish to ban Zimbabwe anyway.

    The entire Indo-Australian affair stinks. Both teams should probably be fined for bringing the game into disrepute. I don’t think either team is completely innocent in this affair. One thing that struck me as odd though was some of the comments about this dispute floating around the internet which kind of excuses the Australian behaviour of sledging by citing that it is common among school-boy sports in Australia. What this says to me though is that any Australian player using that excuse isn’t any more mature than a school boy.

  7. Art
    January 8, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    The Zimbabwe situation is either very simple or very complex depending on whether you believe or not that sports and politics mix. These days for my simplistic mind they don’t so politics should butt out from all sides. See how complex it can become. lol.

    On the Indo Australian problem we face a very different and frankly much more important issue. The issue has been brewing for some time and I have been a little surprised that it has really taken this long to get this big. The issue is simply one of umpire competence or at least that is what we are led to believe. In fact it has nothing to really do with that at all because in cricket like in all walks of life honest mistakes are made. Over the years I have umpired I have seen technology being foisted upon the viewing and listening public. Most of it is to check if an umpire’s decision was right or wrong. We have listening devices we have radar and coupled with this we have the comments from yesterday’s heroes who seem to delight in detecting an umpire’s error which is then scrutinised to the nth degree by various methods that succeeds in do nothing other than to undermine the authority of and respect for the umpires. When the cricket gods decided that local umpires in test cricket were biased and ‘impartial’ umpires were required the rot started, it seemed all umpires could not be trusted to be impartial. So the gods produced elite umpires who were supposedly the best of the best. Some years ago I was asked, jokingly I hope, to sonsider an upwardly mobile course in umpiring. Why on earth would I do that when the salary drop was so huge and the corporate life was more important and besides I could remain anonymous where ver I went and umpire a game here or there and then move on.

    The electronics coupled with the commentators (and of course the new preamble to the Laws) have succeeded in recent years to bring the game into disrepute and the chief culprit is the ICC who seem to want to please those with money rather than to protect the game and at times its glorious uncertainties.

    Electronics should be either banned from the games they are now in or be made available to all levels and grades of cricket because with this concerted attack on ‘neutral’ umpires there will be very few umpires left at any level.

    And as for sledging oh let’s be real. There is a lot of banter and very very little direct sledging in cricket in Australia because if it ever happens it is stopped in a hurry and mostly by team mates. The worst type of sledging that occurs in cricket is the direct verbal and other types of attacks on umpires such as charging and incessant appealing. This has the habit of breaking down the reistence of even some very good umpires and that sort of attack happens very, very rarely in Australia.

    So folks consider my position on Saturday as the only badged umpire in what will be a wonderful day night match without electronics and an uncertain helper at square leg. Consider my position as a badged umpire in a day night match on Monday when it will be a South African team playing a local team.

    Perhaps this topic is off topic for the board but given the broad coverage of countries we have here and the range of participants it might be a good place to discuss it.

  8. Roland Ilube
    January 9, 2008 at 5:10 am

    My question re Zim is to what extent is the ZCU (and any other test nation’s governing body for that matter) accountable to the ICC for the use to which it puts the funds that it receives from the ICC? My concern (which I must say is not founded on any hard evidence) is that the money that the ZCU derives from the ICC is being put to uses which have nothing to do with the advancement of cricket in the country. If this were to be the case, would the ICC be in a position to take action against the ZCU?

    On the Ind/Aus issue(s), I could take all day, but I would like to highlight just 2 points. Art, as a qualified umpire will know much better than me the responsiblities that the preamble to the Laws of the Game – the Spirit of Cricket – places on the captains, umpires and players, yet I constantly see test matches being played out in which these responsibilities are shirked without any consequences. I believe that the umpires, either of their own volition or under pressure from higher authorities, have allowed the boundaries to be pushed too far, and they need to redraw the line in the sand.

    On technology, I have to disagree with Art, I don’t believe you can put the genie back in the bottle, and it is not practical for it to be made available at all levels of the game. The situation at the highest level, where the man who has to make the decision is the one with the least access to all that technology has to offer, is however untenable in my view.

  9. Art
    January 9, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Roland, you make a number of astute points and I would like to comment on two of them.

    1. The Preamble.
    In reality I am not sure why this was ever added. It looks fine and fancy but that is about all. I guess we have taken a new step in the competition here given the Preamble and if a player transgresses then the captain is advised to control his player and if a second offence occurs then both captain and player are reported. There is no second chance if there is racial or religious villification. I guess this must be working because we are more than halfway through the season and no one has made it to the judiciary so far.
    I believe umpires in the highest of games have been advised not to be ‘controversial’ after all those who have tried to follow the Law as they see it have somewhat suffered. It was interesting to note that the match referee in the First Test refused to take the reporting of an Indian player by an umpire seriously. His statement that went something like ‘the player was disappointed at being given out’ as the excuse for not leaving rather opened the gate in the Second Test in my view.

    I have not reported a player in all my years of umpiring, perhaps I am too easy with players or perhaps every unstands rapidly that we are out there to enjoy ourselves and that is the benchmark.

    despite the paper beatups cricket is much calmer from many aspects than when i started playing and umpiring. There have been a number of crackdowns on sending a batsman off for example and the ‘good old days’ of pointing to the dressing room and saying a few ill chosen words are long gone. Players are smarter, better trained and fitter then they used to be. I still marvel at youngsters who can cut and swing the ball both ways at will. This ability spread through teams at all levels is really amazing and the ability to apply pressure on teams has also been increased because of this. However at my level we have grades and we hope there is some evening out of talent and reasonable contests take place although this is not always the case. There is no higher standard than Test cricket and when one team is a stand out then problems can occur and obviously are.

    On technology there is now the great division. After I broke down as a player and took up umpiring I remember how in my first game I was severely chastised by my mentor for telling the bowler why I had said no to an appeal. “You never tell because they might reply.” I thought this was crazy given that I always liked to know why an appeal was turned down. A couple of words would do. Even after this start Tom Smith’s of 1980 was still instructing umpires not to give a reason. This has since changed of course and it is recognised now in the various instructions and that decision has done much to alleviate one area of tension of the field. However we know have technology which in certain high status games shows if the umpire was correct or seemingly not.

    Now we must remember that these folks are allegedly the ‘best of the best’ and when they are shown to be wrong as often as it seems there is an underswell suggesting that if they are the best then mere journeymen like myself must be woeful to say the least.. The replays promote dissent on the field if the umpire gets it wrong. The replays promote dissent at all levels. the replays also do something else when there is only one badged umpire at a game. The square leg umpire is now often very reluctant to call anything out in runouts and stumpings that are not obvious to anyone within a mile. You often get a shoulder shrug and the like drawing of a screen to make their point. If the best of the best need help with obvious outs we have no chance at lower levels in reality.

    So the real question is ‘does the new technology as shown to everyone in the word benefit the true game of cricket or bring the officials at all levels into question?’

    You see electronics on this matter are not just about high level cricket it is about equality and respect at all levels. The media allows the respect for umpires to be whittled away because it gives a talking point that in the past was merely a quick opinion without basis. In fact cricket was always a little about glorious uncertainties it would appear the umpires are now allowed none. perhaps we should bring in a law a little like basball: if a batsman plays and misses three times in an over then he is out. After all how many mistakes is a batsman allowed before he is dismissed?

  10. January 10, 2008 at 4:08 am

    On the Ind/Aus issue…….

    1) I think it is a terrible precedent by the ICC to remove Bucknor because 1 team thinks AFTER the test that he is a bad umpire, especially on 2-3 decisions that were bad, and not only by him…….. India should have objected to him before the series, and refused to participate if he was umpiring….. if the ICC didnt budge then, then they should not have budged now……

    2) Regarding the entire “Monkey” issue…… it should be kept in mind that cricket is “supposed” to be a game free of racism, derogatory comments, bad sportsmanship and cheating……. that is what the mysterious spirit of cricket is, which is what the ICC is supposed to protect……. so yes, if Harbajan called symonds a monkey, then he should be held in violation of the spirit….. it doesnt matter whether Symonds is actually black or white, or both……. it doesnt matter whether in Punjabi culture, calling someone a monkey is derogatory or funny…….. if it is a banned word, then the player should not be using it….. it is my understanding that symonds has been called a monkey before, and it was taken up as a crowd racism issue by the ICC, so Harbajan should have known the history……..

    3) Now the question is whether harbajan did or did not say it…… for that we will have to wait for the result of the appeal against the ban………

    4) Now many people come out and say that spirit of cricket is a myth and this and that…… I guess then it would also be ok for players to come up to umpires and slap them if the decision goes against them, or to have physical fights against each other………..

    5) India’s whole logic that they lost because of a couple of bad decisions is also not correct….. for Gods sake, this was touted as being the batting line up that will beat australia, not one which cannot bat out 2 sessions on a batting pitch……..

  11. Art
    January 10, 2008 at 5:14 am

    Nasir, I am not implying that the “Sprit of Cricket’ as such is a myth. What i have tried to convey is that by putting it in writing the Sprit has been demystified. We really all knew what the Sprit was and meant and it was underpinned by one statement ‘The umpires shall be the sole judges of fair and unfair play.’

    That was a very simple statement and has been around in various forms for over 230 years. Once you codify such a statement you lay it bare to scrutiny and abuse. That is exactly what is happening now, it is written down, can be nalysed and manipulted in such a way that the powerful will win and the very statement itself is reduced to nothingness.

    In passing there is a poll on a sporting site in Australia asking the question ” Is the ICC the poddle of the BCCI.” So far it is running 5 tol 1 with yes answers.

    I have spoken out in a number of public meetings saying that in recent years the game has been sold out by the ICC for money. Not money in the sense that the players should be recompensed properly but money in the sense that those who appear to have it in the cricket world regardless of talent seem to be pulling the strings.

    I listened recently to malcolm Speed being interviewed. He crowed loud and long at how the recent World Cup had provided the impetus for the grounds in the West Indies to be brought up to “world standard” as part of the deal to play the Cup there. He was pressed at what was the ICC doing to ensure the disgraceful way spectators were treated in India would be correct by the next World Cup. he waffled on for a number of minutes. He answer was broadly “the BCCI will do what they like we have no real control.”

    This has vindicated my personal stand against the current activities of the ICC and rather proven the real fact that if you are the West Indies for example you will do as you are directed, if you are the BCCI you will do as you please.

    I am a few years younger than Bucknor and believe that I can still umpire at any level but we all have bad days and bad matches for various reasons. It is never up to a team to demand a sacking of an official it is up to the governing body to do it withour pressure because this sort of pressure is in fact a breach of the Spirit.

    But as i said in a speech today to a group of cricket entusiasts, Proctor should be the one suspended, he did not take the required action against a transgressor in the first test the ground work was set by him.

    Then again I was advised at the start of the tour that if I was abetting man I should place a bet at reasonable odds that the tour would be abandoned at some stage on some trumpted up grounds. I do not bet but how did these folks know before hand that something would happen and who in the Indian team has demanded that India play no more matches.

    If Singh’s appeal is not heard until after the series is over perhaps greater forces in the gambling world have had their say. If will be interesting to say the least to see what happens to the charge set against Hogg.

  12. Roland Ilube
    January 10, 2008 at 5:47 am

    I played in an ICC qualifier once in which a batsman (supported by his partner) accused one of our fielders of racial abuse. However as no one else on the field had heard the alleged insult the tournament authorities took no action, which to my mind was the only logical decision open to them. From what I understand of the Singh affair, the position is very similar, and I can’t understand how Proctor could have made the decision he did. If he had any additional information I think it should have been made public. Of course now that we are awaiting an appeal I guess everything is subject to that, but after the appeal I hope there will be more clarity as to the basis for both the initial decision and the final outcome.

  13. January 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Just for clarification, I wasnt replying to any comment here….. I was just talking generally 🙂

  14. Chris
    January 11, 2008 at 12:04 am

    He was pressed at what was the ICC doing to ensure the disgraceful way spectators were treated in India would be correct by the next World Cup. he waffled on for a number of minutes. He answer was broadly “the BCCI will do what they like we have no real control.”

    That just gives me shudders. With 3 and 1/2 years to go until the 2011 World Cup in South Asia I wonder just what kind of tournament it will be. In recent times it seems to have become a fad to label the cricket world cups as “the worst ever” or “horrible” or “dreadful”, usually over events that are beyond any organizer’s control (such as teams refusing to tour one of the co-hosts or having major teams knocked out in upsets), but what will they call the 2011 CWC if spectator treatment is India is left as it is?

    With regards to Bucknor, I agree with Nasir. India should have complained long before or just kept quiet. Now of course, teams will be more inclined in the future to complain about umpires after a match (even though the ICC went on and said that this had nothing to do with the BCCI’s complaints – which if true means nothing since it appears to be a direct result of the BCCI’s ultimatum). Well, on the flip side, pretty soon there won’t be any umpires left that a particular team won’t have a grudge against – Benson’s only lucky that he wasn’t scheduled to stand in the next Test anyway and the way it stands now 3 or 4 of the 10 elite umpires seem to be in some team’s bad books. Soon we’ll either end up with umpire-less matches or a slow realization by the teams that they are being petty and unrealistic (umpires are people after all so they will make mistakes) and possibly some changes that might hopefully benefit umpires (perhaps giving them onfield access to all the technology that armchair critics utilize when complaining about umpires).

  15. Cuen Lucas
    January 11, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Pushing aside all political/race issues in Zim and focusing purely on a performance issue, I suspect the ICC might be waiting on Zim’s performance withing the Supersport Series in S.A. before deciding whether or not they should be entered into the Intercontinental Cup.

  16. Ram
    January 11, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Given the profile of cricket in Britain, I think neither the ECB nor the British Govt initially had a strong opinion about using cricket as a political tool against Zim….I guess it’s the cricket media in Britain that created a furore prior to the 2003 WC, thereby raising the profile of the whole issue leading to the situation where we’re now…Apart from using the sport to protest, realistically speaking I don’t think anyone in the UK believes Eng not playing Zim in cricket is going to affect the internal situation there a bit…

    Looking at the bigger picture, I don’t think it would matter a big deal if Ire, Sco and Neth were to play Zim and beat them because it’s more likely that such a happening would be viewed as a negative result for Zim than as a positive result that these Associates can build on….

  17. Cuen Lucas
    January 11, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Sadly Ram, your last paragraph is all too right.

  18. Chris
    January 11, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Cuen, which result do you suspect the ICC would look at? The Supersport Series or the Supersport Challenge? As it is, the Supersport Challenge between Zimbabwe and a South African Composite XI (composed of club players I gather) is finished and Zimbabwe won all three of the first-class matches. While I wouldn’t interpret this to mean Zimbabwe are ready to beat Australia in Test cricket (the South African composite XI wasn’t even South Africa “A” after all) it does seem that Zimbabwe can still play and win first-class cricket. Zimbabwe’s participation in the Supersport Series is a bit confusing to me. While Zimbabwe fielded their national team in the Supersport Challenge, the team fielded in the Series is called Zimbabwe Provinces according to the cricinfo scorecards, so is Zimbabwe Provinces the national team under another name specifically for the South African domestic series or is it a team like the South African Composite XI?

    Ram’s last paragraph is all to true as far to many people (players, adminstrators and fans) are overly cynical and pessimistic when it comes to cricket (with regards to both Test countries and non-test countries). I always found it strange that some folks advocated sacrificing one cricket playing country (Zimbabwe) or two (Bangladesh) in order to promote cricket elsewhere (the associates) when the true aim of expansion should be to promote it in both current Test countries and in non-Test countries so that one day there will be many countries playing at the highest level.

    I have a feeling that Zimbabwe would probably dominate the intercontinental cup which might detract the value of the tournament for the associate sides. But Zimbabwe does need to play some form of international first-class cricket, since as was said earlier there are 9 test playing countries and 8 associates playing first-class matches between themselves and a full member that does neither.

    Perhaps the 8 intercontinental cup teams should play regular first-class matches against Test countries “A” teams (and “B” teams). Most of them are close enough to nearby Test countries anyway (Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands with England; Canada and Bermuda with England and West Indies; Namibia with South Africa and Zimbabwe; Kenya with Zimbabwe and South Africa and UAE with the 4 South Asian members). Imagine if Scotland beat the England Lions. That would surely attract enough attention for the E(W)CB to consider more regular ODIs against Scotland.

  19. Nishadh Rego
    January 12, 2008 at 4:59 am

    If you guys had actually watched the test match, you would have seen that this wasn’t only a a question of 2 or 3 decisions going against India, but 8-9+, which in my opinion is the ONLY reason India lost the game.

    In the first innings, Symonds was given 2 – 3 lives (2 clearcut stumping which the 3rd umpire gave wrongly (and I really do not know how thats possible), and a very very very obvious edge, which everyone at the ground apart from Bucknor seemed to see and hear), not counting the numerous LBW decisions that went against India and the one that went against the Australians

    Inspite of this, the famed Indian batting line up took the lead. In Australia’s second innings, Hussey, Ponting, and Symonds received lives from the umpires from clearcut wrong decisions for everyone to see.

    In India’s last innings where they were chasing 333, they were 100 odd for 3 with Dravid batting on 38 and Ganguly batting beautifully on 30 odd. In the space of about 6 – 10 overs, both were given shockers, in what was pathetic umpiring by both Benson and Bucknor. To add to everything else, this cost India the game. I’ll go as far as saying that India looked as good or even better than Australia in this test match. When its 2 or 3 bad decisions, its fine, however it was 9 or 10 extremely poor decisions by professional, top class umpires. Granted, people sometimes make mistakes but there comes a point (and this point was crossed in this test match) where these things cannot go unreprimanded. I’ve never umpiring like this over a sustained period of five days against a single team in the 10 years that I can remember watching cricket.

    I don’t have much to say on the racism incident except that if there is no apparent proof, I don’t see how a match referee can make such a crucial decision in a matter of hours.

    If you saw some of the footage from the test match, the Aussies behaviour was also, very clearly, not at its best. I won’t get into too many details, but simply the fact that Michael Clarke chose to stand for a good 10/15 secs. after clearly edge/cutting to first slip off Kumble indicates that for one they were trying to win a few more questionable decisions.

    All in all a very poor test match, and one in which the result was not accurate!

  20. Cuen Lucas
    January 12, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Chris, the composite sides were made of franchise players, but whilst some players were well established within the top flight domestic competitions, others hovered between the franchise and provincial competitions.

    The reason why the Supersport series would be a better yardstick is because there are more games so consistency could be better measured, and because the teams in the Series are also more cohesive because they’ve played more games together.

  21. Art
    January 12, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Of course it is the umpire’s fault. Of course india are being picked on. Heck the ICC selects the umpires and if Austrlaia is playing we are not allowed Austrlaian umpires and somehow we have convinced the neutral umpires to favour us. Of course India have had the rough end of the stick and by the use of hot spot indicators, direction radar, super slow film listening devices you were able to devine prompted by commentators all of these so called errors by the umpires.

    Now a question from an umpire, which team in international cricket in the last 10 years has had the most reports made against them?

    Why would one team singularly seem to hold the wrath of umpires and match referees more than any other? Which country has no umpires on the international panel?

    Hmmm

  22. Chris
    January 12, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    I feel it for you Art. All the complaining about umpiring assumes that if the umpiring mistakes hadn’t been made then Australia would have been skittled for a paltry score or that India would have made far more runs. However this assumption rest on the idea that had Symonds and Ponting been given out when they were supposed to then everything else for India would have been the same (which would almost certainly not be the case). It is just as likely that had the Australians been given proper outs then their bowlers would have come back even harder (and there probably would also have been more intense “banter” in order to break the concentration of the Indian batsmen). Assumptions are also made that the Indian batsmen who were incorrectly given out would have gone on to score many more runs when in truth they could just as easily have been bowled out or caught or lbwed after a few more runs. That’s the thing about sport, you can’t predict the minutiae (although the end results are sometimes predictable but not always). Yuvraj Singh could make six sixes today and a duck tomorrow; Ponting could score a duck today and a century tomorrow.

    I don’t know which team has had the most reports made against them in the last 10 years. If I guessed India or Australia would I be right?

    I do know however, which countries have no umpires on the elite panel: Sri Lanka, India, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. The first three did have until 2004 but the Sri Lankan and Zimbabwean were dropped from the elite panel but are still umpiring tests. The Indian retired and I haven’t heard of any up and coming replacement yet. Bangladesh hasn’t had any as far as I know.

    Cuen, I see what you mean. I rather doubt Zimbabwe would go along with being included in the intercontinental cup though.

  23. dr gulkhan
    January 13, 2008 at 6:42 am

    India was the better team in the last test and should have won.
    Australia only won the match cuz they had about dozen wrong umpiring dicisions going there way.
    It almost seemed like the umpires were more keen on letting australia win than aussies themsleves.

  24. dr gulkhan
    January 13, 2008 at 6:46 am

    And this is not teh first time this has happened.
    I remember Kiwis had Australia against the wall when they here bailed out by umpires.
    And pakistanis were also robbed of in 1999 whenAdam gilchrist and langer wre given few lives to win a lost match. Which was the first match and whould have given pakis 1-0 lead in 3 match series.

  25. Nishadh Rego
    January 14, 2008 at 2:38 am

    Chris, if you’re going to argue about unpredictability and chance in matches then you can argue against any damn victory that a team gains. Thats not the point! the point is that Australia would definitely have been in a worse position had their main batsmen who were still in (the others were out) had been given out, and India’s two best batsmen in the second innings weren’t given shockers.

    Art, I don’t think this has got anything to do with India not having umpires in the ICC Elite Panel, and India being the country with the most offences in the last ten years. I don’t know what the logic is there. I think you might find that with the Indian Team having ALOT to lose domestically by losing a match, they, at times, do go overboard. If there stood a chance that you’re house might be burned down if you lost a game, you would play with everything you have!!

    I’m not saying that India singularily held the wrath of the umpires in the this match, though they were on the wrong side of most of them! I have given umpires the benefit of the doubt too many times before, however, if you watched this match, it would be pretty obvious that most of the decisions (and the sheer number of wrong ones) are just inexcusable by a professional! You simply can’t be making so many mistakes if this is you’re job and all you do full time.

  26. Art
    January 14, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Well the only thing you know about the so called ‘bad’ decisions is all the modern electronics that are there to pick over any decision made right or wrong and frankly I am getting pretty sick of the hypocritical media and commentators who go on and on about these so called mistakes that really no one would know about if these infernal machines were not in use. In reality what is there purpose? I ask that question because in the wonderful day/night match I have just finished umpiring I didn’t have those machines. I had a squad of local high school lads playing Tommy Hammonds team from South Africa. Great spirit great attitude and and all out great match.

    One player I gave out claimed in was a bump ball. I said fine then you were out LBW, he just looked at me and realsied he had hit the ball after it had hit his pad right in front of off stumpand it would have taken middle and off.

    So what would have happened if the elctronics were there? I don’t know but he would still be out. I am sick and tired of the prima donnas playing at present. The wicket isn’t right or the umpires go it wrong just once a little praise where it is due, maybe the bowlers got it right more often than not.

    As for having your house burned down, I guess that is part of the fame of playing for India but please don’t use that as an excuse what should we do give each Indian batsman two goes at getting out because of this?

    The sadness of the situation is somewhat beyond comprehension and I will stand in any forum and say that the elctronic aids to commentators should be done away with and the game returned to how it was. call me a Luddite but there is no other reasonable way.

    You go and try to talk to folks about becoming an umpire and listen to what they say. It is about time the folks at the top got out of their 5 star hotels and front of the plane seats and trotted around a few Saturday games played by real folks and umpired, often as a single umpire, by us journeymen umpires and then they just might understand what effect this current crop of electronice commentators ‘aids’ are having on the game at the grassroots.

    As for making mistakes how many plays and misses are allowable by a batsman? It is all relative and at present a few commentators and media outlets should get fined for bringing the game into disrepute.

    I hear the bookies in India are offering odds as to whether a player is actually out or not now, hmmm.

  27. Chris
    January 14, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Nishadh, how can unpredictability not be the point? You are claiming that Australia would have been in a worse position, but there is no way to prove that. As I said, if Australia had been given proper outs, what proof is there that their bowlers wouldn’t have felt more pressured to deliver and actually gotten out both Dravid and Ganguly for less than 30 each? Are you saying that had Australia been given proper outs then the their bowlers would have delivered the same performance during India’s run chase? If India’s target had been 250 instead of 333, wouldn’t the Australian bowlers have a different objective and thus have bowled differently? If so there is no way that I could reasonably claim that Australia’s position or India’s position would have been worse. India could have got 254 or 184 in chasing.

    I also don’t see why umpires are expected to be superhuman but the rest of of the mortals on the field aren’t. So two umpires make 10 poor decisions over a 5 day match. So between them they averaged 1 poor decision a day. Now how many right decisions did they make? And how do these 10 decisions figure in the total number of decisions (right and wrong)? 50%? 90%? 10%? 2%? I doubt anyone here except maybe Art could tell, since nobody watches cricket matches to assess the umpire. Such things are only done once the umpire is viewed to have made too many mistakes. Considering that 37 wickets fell (or supposedly fell) then at most these 10 decisions account for 27% of the total decisions by the umpires. And I’m 99% sure they accounted for less (probably far less) since wickets don’t tell the whole story. The other thing to bear in mind is that most of the people who watch and complain couldn’t have done a better job without all the technology they see when watching the match on TV. Of course the decisions are going to look glaring, but it is unfair to expect people of any age or professional capacity to have Hawkeye vision. They weren’t born with it so they can’t use it. They also don’t have little TV’s with them on the field with which they can review any questionable incident. They make the decision based on what they saw or experienced and then on TV the commentators review the decision with footage that is far slower than normal speed. If umpires were like houseflies and could detect fast movements very wellthen I too would complain. If umpires could also tell the speed of a ball like a bat would (using sonar) I would also complain at any inaccurate decisions. But they aren’t houseflies (good at detecting fast movement), hawks (super sharp vision), bats (sonar) or supermen. They are people. I am willing to bet anyone good money that if viewers and commentators could only see what the umpires saw (and not in slow motion or using a tracker or zoom feature) then they (the viewers and commentators) would make far more wrong decisions. Umpires cannot view things from multiple angles (that’s one of the reasons there are two to begin with) so to expect them to do so is unreasonable.

  28. Rich B
    January 14, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Despite the political strife, Zim are definitely improving. However, I don’t think that competing in the Intercontinental Cup is necessary. They seem to have found quite a lot of multi-day cricket to play in South Africa (at least for the moment), and there’s no reason why a series between them and the top associates couldn’t be arranged on an ad hoc basis, i.e. tours involving one or two 4 day matches and a few ODIs.

    On a purely cricketing basis, it would definitely help both Kenya/Scotland/Ireland and Zimbabwe/Bangladesh to play each other more often.

  29. Nishadh Rego
    January 14, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    There is obviously no proof of this Chris, however the fact of the matter is that those were wrong decisions and the fact of the matter is that they cost one team the game, whereas if the decisions had been given right, we might’ve actually had a fair game where the clear best team would’ve won!

    I don’t think umpires have made so many clear wrong decisions in a test match before. This indicates that the umpiring in this match was clearly substandard. This was not a question of LBWs and or 50/50 runout chances. This was a question of clear stumpings where the umpires themselves had the technology to view replays, and caught behind chances which all 13 players on the field heard! When the umpire (3rd umpire included) is the only one in the ground or on the field who comes to the wrong decision even after viewing the replay 10 times, theres definitely something wrong there, and he shouldn’t be umpiring.

    Umpiring is a job like every other and while you can cover for 1 or 2 mistakes in a match, you can’t keep allowing someone who spends all his time training and improving as an umpire, someone whose paid well to be an umpire, and who earns his bread and butter from being an umpire, to keep making mistakes of the sort that were made throughout the course of the test match. There are no excuses for that!

    Its like a shooting coach saying to his shooter, “look I know its hard to keep spotting the skeet because it moves so fast, lets keep the misses at this level.” The shooter isn’t going to be winning many tournaments because he won’t be the best one around. Well these umpires certainly aren’t the best around!

  30. Art
    January 14, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    “Umpiring is a job like every other”????”

    Is that right? 99.99% of umpiores are dumb schmucks like me who turn up at a ground somewhere and carry out the duties as requested and as required to the best of our abilities.

    I never wanted a “career” as an umpire simply because the salary even at the highest level would be way too much of a drop for me to contemplate. But if you are dissatisfied with the international umpires then start shooting the panel at the ICC who choose these people don’t shoot the umpires. As I say to my staff don’t complain about the workers you have employed because you either chose the wrong one or have inadequately trained them and therefore I am looking at getting rid of the problem by getting rid of you not the employee.

    Pressure is a stange thing and I have read a little bit here about the so called poressure on Indian cricketers. Well imagine the pressure on an international umpire in a stadium with 80000 people and every technology available to condemn him if he makes an error and knowing that the person he is judging is earning 10 times more then he does.

    Oh and on pressures at a lesser level last night was a classic. A batsman played an awkward shot to a ball of yorker length. The ball cannoned into his pad sprayed off and hit the back of his bat and went to first slip where a great catch was taken. At the drinks break the coach complained that it was bump ball (lol). So i said that was absolutely fine then he was out LBW pick which one because I really don’t mind he was out both ways in my book.

    Again I saw a very audacious thing. A tail ender has sppooned a catch to cover and ran through for a run. No one appealed so I stood there. Everyone of the fielders looked stunned and finally said ‘that was out’. I asked if that was an appeal they said yes and i raised my finger. The batsman asked me if I was confused and I said not at all a dismissal needs an appeal and you are a little cheeky to try and pull that bluff off.

    Big smiles all around.

    We are right most of the time and if I was got things wrong as often as most batsman do I would have given up umpiring some time ago.

  31. Chris
    January 14, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    “There is obviously no proof of this Chris, however the fact of the matter is that those were wrong decisions and the fact of the matter is that they cost one team the game, whereas if the decisions had been given right, we might’ve actually had a fair game where the clear best team would’ve won!”

    But Nishadh, as you yourself say, there is obviously no proof of what way the game would have gone if the wrong decisions hadn’t been made. Therefore how can the incorrect decisions cost one team the game? In saying so, you are assuming that the team was assured/guaranteed of winning otherwise, which nobody has proof of. The umpiring was poor. And Benson and Bucknor should be shown their mistakes and given time off during or after the series and the ICC should then allow all its umpires to have access to this technology where possible. But saying that poor umpiring cost one team the game is blaming India’s loss on poor umpiring, which as we have well established is impossible to prove (since India could well have lost if the decisions were right or even if incorrect umpiring decisions had gone it their favour) and thus such blame is without any proof.

    “I don’t think umpires have made so many clear wrong decisions in a test match before. This indicates that the umpiring in this match was clearly substandard.”

    Well, that would only apply before the use of technology to review umpiring decisions. For all any of us know, any test match between 1880 and 1930 could have had more wrong decisions than this one. It’s just that they wouldn’t have been clearly wrong decisions because nobody could have told it any better than the umpires at the time. As technology advances, I wouldn’t be surprised if more decisions end up being viewed as wrong and this test is seen as run-of-the-mill in terms of errors (unless the ICC actually integrates the technology with the umpires). The umpires weren’t helped any by the players themselves. Both teams had an agreement which said a fielder’s word would be taken in relation to low catches. In the cases of the inaccurate outings given for catches that afterwards seemed to have touched the ground, who’s fault is it really that the umpires stuck to a pre-series agreement? The umpires or the fielding team? And when players refuse to walk I suspect they do so to delibrately instill doubt in an umpire’s mind and of course once the umpire has doubt, he gives the benefit of the doubt to the batsman. There was poor umpiring, but the umpires weren’t helped any by players who didn’t know what really occurred themselves (if we want to give the benefit of the doubt about the grassed catch) or who lied, deceived and bluffed (if we don’t want to give the benefit of the doubt to the fielders and which seems to be the case with certain batsmen).

    “This was a question of clear stumpings where the umpires themselves had the technology to view replays, and caught behind chances which all 13 players on the field heard!”

    Those were clear stumpings from the point of view of the umpires or the numerous cameras placed around the pitch? If you’re watching the stumping in real time and have to keep track of multiple things (…..how far the batsman’s foot is off the ground – if it is off the ground; when the keeper stumps the wicket..) how sure would you be every 100 times you saw it? and every 1000 times? And if you thought you were sure of what you saw, why would you refer to the third umpire? I like to put myself in someone’s shoes first before judging them. The non-caught behind was clearly a poor decision and the umpires should have done better, but watch most stumpings in real time (and never look at the replay) and unless the batsman is actually far out his grounds then it isn’t that easy to tell. Besides, when in doubt, I thought the benefit of the doubt was supposed to go to the batsman.

    “Umpiring is a job like every other and while you can cover for 1 or 2 mistakes in a match, you can’t keep allowing someone who spends all his time training and improving as an umpire, someone whose paid well to be an umpire, and who earns his bread and butter from being an umpire, to keep making mistakes of the sort that were made throughout the course of the test match. There are no excuses for that!”

    Replace “umpiring” with “batting”, “bowling” and “fielding” and replace “umpire” with “batsman”, “bowler” and “fielder” and there would be no excuses for anyone on the field (especially the players since they get paid more than the umpires). As a matter of fact, since the umpires get paid less to perform fewer mistakes, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day umpires simply refused to umpire matches by going on strike. I still don’t see why we can’t expect human beings to make mistakes. Pakistan can have an “off day” when they lose to Ireland, but umpires must be near perfect all the time.

    In addition to aiding umpires more with ready access to technology on the field, I think the ICC needs to try to do something about this refusal to walk and the possible undue influencing of the umpires that this might lead to (whether intentional or unintentional). Any batsman who is clearly out, but refuses to walk (and especially any that admit to doing so afterwards) should be fined. It would be very difficult to do something like that of course, since the batsman himself may have doubt or may simply be waiting on the decision of the umpire, but refusing to walk certainly shouldn’t be encouraged.

  32. Nishadh Rego
    January 16, 2008 at 12:07 am

    1.)let me rephrase that – Umpiring at the international level where people are paid to do a fulltime job – is like any other job in the sense that you are professional and aren’t expected to make mistakes!

    2.) its the umpires who choose careers in umpiring. Noones forcing them to become professional umpires, and I’m going to blame them because the ICC has placed its confidence in them, and they’ve everyone down.

    3.) The Indian cricketers face a different kind of pressure. I haven’t heard of people threatening to burn down umpires’ houses because they’ve done a poor job. Anyways the point related to the Indians playing under so much pressure is that it could be a reason that they play the game alot harder resulting in a larger number of offences.

    4.) I’m sure you would agree with me, but there’s no way you can compare success in batsmanship and success in umpiring.

    Chris,

    5.) I understand your point regarding the impossibility of predicting who might’ve won the game, however the fact is that the umpires distorted it (through human error and incompetence) in favor of one team tilting the scales in their favor. Symonds received three lives, and went on to score 162, while both Ganguly and Dravid were given out to shockers. This certainly helped the Australians clinch the game. In most scenarios, when so many wrong decisions are given against one team, morale goes down severely and makes that team’s task all the more difficult.

    5.) Please forget the 1880s and the 1930s. This is the modern era, where umpires are alot better trained, taken care off, and facilitated, and in return are expected to perform at a higher level.

    6.) Benson did well to stick to the agreement, which is fair enough, however in such situations on the last day of a test match, when his decision is as crucial as it was, I would refer the case to the third umpire.

    7.) “And when players refuse to walk I suspect they do so to delibrately instill doubt in an umpire’s mind and of course once the umpire has doubt, he gives the benefit of the doubt to the batsman.”

    When players refuse to walk, its because they have doubt that its out themselves, not because they want to deliberately instill doubt in the umpires’ mind (most of the time). It is still up to the umpire to make the right decision, and if he is unsure, he can certainly refer the decision to the third umpire who has the luxury of a hundred different camera angles.

    8.) “And if you thought you were sure of what you saw, why would you refer to the third umpire?”

    Mate, its pretty obvious that with stumping and runout chances, especially ones that are extremely close, as these ones were, an umpire should refer them to the third umpire just to make sure, simply because he can never be 100% sure watching such close calls in real time, and because he has the luxury of the third umpire. However, in one of the cases, the decision was referred to the third umpire, and even after it was obvious to all thirteen players and the 30,000 fans in the stadium that Symonds’ foot was in the air, after Dhoni had started removing the bails, the umpire gave it not out. Absolutely PATHETIC! There was booing all across the ground!!!

    9.) “Pakistan can have an “off day” when they lose to Ireland, but umpires must be near perfect all the time.”

    Pakistan did have an off day when they lost to Ireland, and lets just recount the events that took places after that. Once i’ve done this, you can tell me whether they faced any consequences or not!

    a.) they were knocked of the World Cup
    b.) their coach passed away (may or may not have been related)
    c.) Intense scrutiny by the World’s Media on all aspects of the Pakistani performance – allegations were even brought up off corruption!
    d.) A few of their players were dropped and Inzi resigned from one-day cricket!

    Is that enough?

    Players are subject to much much more criticism at regular intervals in their careers than umpires ever are, and its about time the umpires (professionals at the same international level as the players) are given their dues for extremely poor performances like this one!

  33. Nishadh Rego
    January 16, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Nasir, any opinions on the issue being discussed?

  34. Chris
    January 16, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    All good points Nishadh and I agree on a number of the issues you raised in them.

    3. Pressure should be no excuse for performance or behaviour. If players can’t handle the pressure then the BCCI needs to do something to reduce the pressure (by getting the fans to calm down) or find players who don’t care about the pressure. People may not threaten to burn down umpires’ houses, but I’m sure that’s only because they don’t live in the same country. They burn effigies of umpires and players (both their own and the opposition’s). Burning an effigy isn’t exactly intended to show support and does nothing to keep stress down. Personally if someone was to burn effigies of me, I would think twice about setting foot in the country. Sports fans can be crazy (the original meaning of the term “fan” or “fanatic”) and if some are passionate enough to commit suicide (as in Brazil), there are certainly some passionate enough to want to commit bodily harm (or murder). Andres Escobar comes to mind, although whether he was murdered because of the own goal or because of betting interests which needed Colombia to win is unclear.

    4. I agree that success in batsmanship and success in umpiring are naturally different, but they have a crucial similarity in that they depend on human abilities, and humans aren’t infallible (even with technology). All that said, I still doubt that Benson and Bucknor made more wrong decisions that right ones and I wouldn’t be surprised if the 11 questionable decisions counted for under 10% of the total decisions they made.

    5. (i) I totally agree that the umpiring distorted the game. As to whether it helped Australia “clinch” the game depends on if Australia would have realistically had a chance at losing the game (i.e. not winning or drawing) had the wrong decisions not be made. Had Australia not scored as well initially then India wouldn’t have been under the pressure to produce the spectacular 500+ runs. In addition Australia would have pressured them far more in the bowling. The fact that the umpiring distorted the game is clear and by itself is a damning enough fact without pinning blame on the umpires for a team’s loss.

    5. (ii). I brought up the 1880s to 1930s because you said “I don’t think umpires have made so many clear wrong decisions in a test match before.” (emphasis added). By that your sentence implies the total history of test cricket and I was pointing out that neither you nor I could possibly know if that was true since there was a time without this nice technology (which also means there is no way to look back on those matches using video to discern whether this match really had the most clear wrong decisions in test history). If you had said “I don’t think umpires have made so many clear wrong decisions in a modern test match before.” or “….”in a test match before the advent of TV replays” then you could be right. That’s all I was trying to get across.

    6. Which brings up the question of how many of the 11 questionable errors are partly the fault of the players. Had such an agreement not be in place (I don’t know why India and Australia were crazy enough to come up with it – might as well do away with neutral umpires then) then Benson probably would have used the TV replay. I suspect that if he hadn’t stuck to the pre-tour agreement then right now Australia would be complaining about how the umpires don’t follow the rules (even if they don’t directly refer to that incident if it was shown by the replay to be a questionable catch).

    7. You are right, when some players refuse to walk, it is because they have doubt themselves, but Symonds and Clarke had no doubt and stuck to their crease like statutes (and they set very bad examples for upcoming batsman who I suspect will more and more refuse to walk in hopes of instilling doubt in the umpire). While it is still up to the umpire to make the right decision, how the umpire comes to that decision is based on what the umpire sees on the field and what the players do. If the fielding team doesn’t appeal then they can complain for enternity, but the umpire isn’t supposed to give out no matter what how obvious it is. And as we have seen in many games strength or the intensity of the appeal by the fielding team is related to how sure they are that they got the batsman out. Now we can say what we want, but at the end of the day, umpires are human and all humans respond to communication (whether it be verbal or body language). So if the umpire sees a play from a particular angle and in real time and the fielding team appeals and the batsman stands resolute (even if the batsman had a better view by being closer to the action and knows the fielding team was right), then surely this must impact in a way, even at the subconscious level and I suspect Symonds figured something like this might happen (or at least hoped it would). And although it may seem like luxury, just imagine if all the onfield umpires kept referring to the third umpire. Then they would be seen as incompetent as they would be perceived as unable to make a decision themselves. If umpires are trained and paid to do umpiring then what’s the point of all that if they constantly refer to the third umpire? And if they did it would reduce their self-confidence (which is necessary to doing a good job professionally) and the confidence that others place in them (which is necessary for decisions to be respected and for games to be played in good spirits). Why bother with on field umpires if the third umpire is so vital? If the third umpire is so vital, why bother to train umpires at all? In addition, until all those camera angles can be moulded together to produce a 3-dimensional moving image, then we must remember that all TV replays are 2-D while human vision is 3-D (which is why third umpires have such a difficult time determing things like whether a ball crossed the boundary as or before a field caught it). And sometimes an umpire is just wrong. He can be sure of what he saw and therefore would feel no need to refer to the third ump. If he always referred to the third ump even when he was sure then over time he would become less sure and refer more constantly to the third ump. and eventually be seen as useless.

    8. As I replied to your seventh point, if umpires can’t be sure and allowed to make decisions based on how sure they are, then sooner or later they will constantly refer to the third umpire as a good number of stumpings and runout chances are extremely close. If they are trained for these things then shouldn’t that training count in allowing them to make decisions based on the evidence they saw? And if not, then what’s the point of training? On the flip side, nothing and nobody is perfect. Rocket scientists and astronauts/cosmonauts make mistakes (and those mistakes sometimes cost lives), but at the end of the day it is still recognized that they carry out most of their job well (again it would be good if anyone knew how much (percentage wise) the 11 questionable decisions accounted for in total). Perhaps all umpires should retire after this current crop in the elite panel (and the entire international panel). Then at least they wouldn’t face such harsh controversy for happening to commit errors (which statistically speaking are bound to happen in anything human-related).

    9. Well Ireland seemed to be have done pretty well in that match. They did actually score higher than Pakistan, even though they won via D/L because D/L was used for Ireland’s overs. If D/L hadn’t been used Ireland’s score would have still meant that they beat Pakistan. However, even though there were some consequences to Pakistan’s loss to Ireland, Pakistan itself wasn’t retired from international cricket, nor were there serious expectations that Pakistan should never play international cricket ever again. Pakistan being knocked out of the world cup was not an extraordinary consequence (since they couldn’t have continued otherwise because of the rules), but umpires are not in a knockout umpiring world cup. They should all perform well (and ideally the same) and in a competition everybody isn’t expected to perform the same (otherwise what would be the point of the competition if not to see who performs better or best?). The intense media scrutiny of Pakistan was unwarranted and disgusting – two wrongs do not make a right, so just because the media and general public were ungracious towards Pakistan doesn’t mean they should continue to do so either towards the players or the umpires. Inzi resigned from one-day cricket and some players were dropped, but did the entire Pakistan team face some consequences? Or did the entire cricketing structure in Pakistan stop playing? Since the umpires are individuals, then comparing them to a team should be done as comparing the individuals to a team as a whole. If members of the team are dropped, but the team isn’t then what should be done for the individual umpires? I would say fine them and maybe allow them to take rest, but don’t drop them. The ICC could have offered them the option of not standing, but to drop them is to open up a precedent of having teams constantly complain about umpires and trying to force umpires they don’t like from umpiring (no matter what the ICC said). By allowing the umpires to (at least appear) to voluntarily not stand in the next tests at least, the ICC would not be perceived as bowing to the pressure of one its members to break its own rules. There’s a saying that “Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done”, likewise the ICC must not only withstand unfair pressure but should be seen to do so. Otherwise, it will be perceived that the ICC has succumbed to such pressure and is susceptible to such pressure from other teams in the future. Right now, of the 10 elite umpires, one (Hair) is not umpiring tests, and two (Benson and Bucknor) would probably face intense pressure from India not to umpire another test and another (Doctrove) is still perceived negatively even though he had intially counselled against acting immediately in the ball tampering controversy and wished to be sure before making such an accusation. Others such as Koertzen and even Taufel have been subject to media and public criticism (Koertzen in 2007 between Australia and Sri Lanka and Taufel back in 2004 when the press dubbed him “Awful Taufel”). When Koertzen, Taufel and the others incur the wrath of some team (as they most likely will through some error that is later seen as crucial) then what happens? Is most of the elite panel suspended because of the teams grinding axes? And what of the replacements? Peter Willey declined a place on the panel because of the time commitments and if umpires continue to run afoul of teams who in their right mind would want promotion to the panel (much less to become an umpire)? The same is true for the South Asian teams and the pressures they face. It wouldn’t be surprising if some potential stars never got involved in playing cricket at all when they see players’ homes being threatened. It might be a small number who were put off from playing, but out of that small number one might find the next Sachin or Dravid.

    “Players are subject to much much more criticism at regular intervals in their careers than umpires ever are, and its about time the umpires (professionals at the same international level as the players) are given their dues for extremely poor performances like this one!”

    So because players are subject to more criticism because they make more errors, then umpires should be subject to more criticism even though statistically, they probably commit less errors overall? Besides, I don’t think players should be subject to so much criticism, as they are humans too (not the batting and bowling robots the media seems to think they are). Some criticism is warranted, but constant criticism and pressure is just uncalled for. The umpires should be criticised for poor performance, but just as how one should give credit where credit is due, then one should also apportion blame/criticism where it is due. The umpires made 11 questionable decisions, of which at least 2 may have been partly due to players (who haven’t been similarly punished for their contribution to these errors). Benson and Bucknor should probably have been warned and fined and undergone some refesher courses and separately offered the option of not standing in the next tests due to the pressures they would have faced (and they should have been allowed to public state as much so that it wouldn’t seem like “ICC” stands for “Indian Cricket Council”). At the same time, Symonds, Clarke and Ponting should have been fined for what they did and the Indian and Australian teams should both have been fined for bringing the game into disrepute by having insults between Harbajan and Symonds (whatever was said).

  35. Chris
    January 16, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    whoops, meant for the reply to point seven to read:

    “….but Symonds and Clarke had no doubt and stuck to their crease like statues.”

  36. Art
    January 16, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    It is somewhat strange how nstrident criticism can effect certain umpires. At almost 59 and having umpired for some 35 years after breaking down as a player aged 23 I am for the first time seriously questioning my role.

    It would seem that umpires have become open slather for anyone whether or not they know the rules and regulations. I umpired a local day night match last saturday at a nice ground here, the only one with lights in the district. This is not the first game I have done under lights around the world and not the first game at that ground but it is different here because we have been experimenting with a lime green / yellowish coloured ball which is simply brilliant.

    The lights at the ground meet or exceed advised standards. On Monday I was umpiring another day/ night match there but before things got underway i was approached by a couple of people who wanted to know why I was putting the players in danger. Hmmm was my thought but I was shown an inflammatory article in the local newspaper that said the lights were highly suspect and the wicket was not up to standard an a major final was not to be played there as a day night arrangement. The implications were clear it was both unfair and unsafe to play.

    Now I don’t mind criticism of my abilities as an umpire but i certainly to heart the suggestions, given the reason for my career end as a player, of not looking after the welfare of players under my charge. I sopke with the editor and was treated like a piece of flotsam, rather stange given my corporate position but that is a different story. The bottom line was that the cricket writer who dreamt up the story and the editor who allowed it to be published had no idea of the rules and laws governing such things and had been somewhat egged on by recent criticisms of umpires in other forms of media. It appeared from conversations that it was in fact my fault that the game would go on and perhaps because of my age (read experience) my judgement was clouded and after all the ICC doesn’t stand up for umpires making decisions therefore you are open to criticism at all levels.

    So here I am now under some sort of pressure on a highly experienced judgement call in which I probably have more experience than anyone else in the region. Corporately it is unsustainable for me to be publicly criticised in this manner. ie that I am neglecting the welfare and safety of people under my control.

    Time to consider an umpiring career in sub district cricket where nothing is expected of umpires.

  37. January 16, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Rego/ Art,

    In my opinion….. players should only be blaming umpiring if the umpire is biased……. they can also complain if they think the umpire is not good, or is blind :), but the ICC should show some mettle in the latter case. ICCs elite panel is a set of umpires who have gone through many tests. So the ICC should back the umpire saying that he is not a bad umpire.

    Regarding mistakes….. umpires will make mistakes in cricket, and it is, actually, part of the game, unlike any other game, that you take the decision with a pinch of salt and move on…… sometimes umpires can also give a number of bad decisions, but its not routine……..

    I think that in all this umpiring talk, we are losing track of the fact that India had to bat out ONLY 2 sessions on the final day, on a fairly good wicket, to get a draw…… and in that innings, they only had 2 decisions going against them………. the other 8 were not………

  38. Art
    January 17, 2008 at 4:58 am

    Just another minor diversion (lol). On Monday I umpired a day / night match between a local school (regional private school champions) and a touring team from South Africa from the Tommy Hammond Sporting Academy. Wonderful game won impressively by the Hammond team who had two great opening fast bolwers and a wicket keeper of outstanding quality.

    I believe he has also done some coaching in Zimbabwe. Given the way the team played and the spirit in which they played the game Tommy seems to be a top line coach.

  39. Bruce Gaskell
    January 30, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Slightly off topic but is anyone following the Zim tour of Pakistan?

    They haven’t won a game yet but seem to be relatively competitive and have been in all the matches at certain stages. Cricinfo still not giving them much credit though.

    I’m not really familiar with the Pakistani line up at the moment though, is it a second string side?

  40. January 30, 2008 at 4:39 am

    Yes it is….. mostly…… for e.g. today they are playing without Shoaib, Asif, Gul, Butt, Younis

    I will write a posting about Zim players and their team … I have seen them for the last 4 matches……

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