The outcome of Sydney 2008
The outcome of the events
at Sydney last week
, where pathetic umpiring
and a charge of racial abuse
marred a superb game, will hopefully make international cricket better, for administrators, players, match officials and fans/spectators.
After the game, a chat with Ganesh, went like this:
14:24 me: i see a few benefits coming out of this entire test:
14:25 1. icc could do something about umpiring standards
2. icc could clearly define what constitutes a racial abuse and what doesn't - is bastard racial, for e.g?
3. teams will swear to not agree to ponting's gentleman agreement on catches
14:26 4. players will stop walking [esp. if #1 isn't handled]
Among these, if the ICC can ensure #1 and #2, then a lot of the problems could be solved. Good umpires will refer to the third umpire at the right time and take decisions on the field at the right time. They will get a higher %age of decisions right. Continuing with my tirade against the ICC's repeated claims to umpires getting 94% of their decisions right
, the Sydney game was a classic example of what happens when umpires get 100% of all irrelevant decisions right and 0% of all critical decisions wrong.
It is fairly obvious that Symonds and Hussey benefitted significantly from umpiring errors [Symonds went from 30 to 162 while Hussey went from 45 to 145], Ponting had the
worst of both worlds while Dravid and Ganguly suffered significantly.
To my mind Hussey not being given out in the second innings when he edged RP Singh down legside having scored 45 perhaps had as significant an impact on the outcome as the other umpiring cock-ups. It is strange that his let-off is not discussed as widely as Symonds' or Ponting's.
53.4 Singh to Hussey, no run, a big noise, huge appeals for a strangle down the legs, India think they have their man and replays suggest that he did press the face of the bat on to it
It is high time the ICC clamped down on:
- Umpiring standards: The ridiculously poor umpiring can & should be fixed by expanding the panel and ensuring that the workload is distributed evenly across four qualified umpires rather than the situation currently where two umpires slog it out in the sun and are under tremendous pressure, with the other two enjoying the comforts of an air-conditioned box and called upon only every now and then [especially the fourth umpire!] to do some work. In addition, there must be something done to increase the accountability of umpires. They can't just say sorry to players for bad decisions and get away with it. Players are dropped for poor performance. Why should umpires be handled with kid gloves?
- Walking: The act of a batsman walking insults the collective intelligence of umpires, teammates and spectators. It is a great tool to be (ab)used [and there are several instances where it has been] either by players walking selectively (after they have scored a lot of runs, but not if they're on a pair, for e.g.) or by players appealing to the umpire's conscience for the umpire could assume that the 'walker' player's appeal for a catch/lbw was valid since he was inherently honest.
- Pre-series agreements on taking the fielder's word for catches: This sort of agreement is total rubbish and I have no idea why Kumble agreed to it when several other captains (Vaughan & Fleming, to name two) have disagreed with Ponting's suggestion. Ricky Ponting got enraged at the post-match press conference when it was suggested that he had actually grounded the ball after 'catching' Dhoni in India's second innings at Sydney. He was affronted enough to take the query as an question about his integrity and advised that the journalist should not even be in the room [I take it that no-one who has any questions about Ponting's conduct should be in the press conference henceforth]. In fact, he held up his conduct in the first innings [where he didn't claim a catch that Dravid had edged since it had bounced] as an example of how he plays the game. It sort of reminds me of the 'walking' business where a player's conduct could be used by umpires to influence their decisions in his favour. That is exactly what seemed to happen with Ganguly dismissal. Clarke caught the ball and rolled over. Ponting asked Clarke (he who edged to first slip and didn't walk) if he caught it. The umpire asked Ponting if Clarke caught it. The umpire took Ponting's word for it. Mr. Ponting is an honourable man. Didn't you see the way he did not appeal after Dravid's edge fell short in the first innings? Thank us for small mercies. Ponting's argument perhaps goes like this: "I didn't appeal for that catch. This shows how I play the game. Hence if I appeal for a catch, it is always a valid appeal and the umpires are duty-bound to adjudicate in my favour."
- Sledging/Abuse: There should be a total ban on any sort of sledging, including banter. There's no saying when a comment becomes offensive, and there is a huge difference in the way people see barbs aimed at them. Sad as it might seem, it means that witty & creative comments obviously also become a victim of the tough measures to prevent situations from boiling over.
PS: Steve Waugh, in his column
, wrote about the things that Australian cricketers hate.
On the other hand, Australian teams can't stomach time-wasting and perceived manipulation of the rules, including calling for runners, over-appealing and the alleged altering of the condition of the ball.
So let's see how Australia's players fared at Sydney.
- Time wasting: Wasn't Clarke wasting everyone's time by staying at the crease after edging to slip?
- Manipulation of the rules through using runners: Let's see what Hayden did. After he'd reached 71 [off 132 balls], Hayden got himself a runner (Ponting), since he had started limping a couple of overs later. When he got out on 123, he had faced 192 balls. In the 60 balls that he played after apparently getting injured, going by Cricinfo's commentary and based on what I saw on TV, he played at least 10 booming drives and 10 sweep shots. Add in a couple of pulls and a couple of reverse sweeps. I don't know too much about sportsmen's bodies, but it seems highly unlikely that a batsman with a serious-enough injury to warrant a runner, would be able to play such shots by placing so much stress on his leg.
- Over-appealing: When Ricky Ponting 'catches' the ball, falls down and his appeal is turned down, he mentions at a press conference that he caught the ball. Isn't that carrying on with the appeal a little too long?
Labels: australia, benson, bucknor, icc, ind v aus 2008, india, ponting, racism, sydney, sydney 2008, umpires, walking