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December 2007 - January 2008


India Sport Scene

THINKING ALOUD

by Dr. C P Dalvi


INDIAS TOUR OF ENGLAND 2007- SOME SALIENT FEATURES.

This article pieces together important and interesting events of the tour.

TEST SERIES WIN AFTER 21 YEARS.

India had won a Test Series in England last in 1986.Credit therefore should go to Captain Rahul Dravid and his team for the series win of 2007. But for umpire Aleem Dar’s shocking decisions (deliberate?) against Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar in the 7th O.D.I., India would have surely won the O.D.I. series too.

Even though India won a Test Series after 21 years, poor Rahul Dravid was criticized by all and sundry for not enforcing follow on in the final Test. The criticism was not only unfair and cruel but was made off the cuff without analyzing in detail the reasons. Although Dravid is rated as a poor captain, this decision of his was absolutely correct and need of the hour. Reasons of the decision are given herewith.

The priority for India was to ensure Series Win. By batting again, doors for an English victory were completely closed and thereby any remote chances of their squaring the series. There were sufficient number of overs as well as time to get the English batsmen out on the last day. Easing of the wicket and lack of sting in our bowling made it possible for England to hold out.

Although we had a big lead, it was obvious that our bowlers were very tired after the harrowing time given to them by the English tail who prolonged their first innings beyond any expectations. The wicket obviously had eased out and we would have been on a leather hunt if follow on was enforced. With batsmen like Kevin Peterson aided by worthy umpires, England could have taken a substantial lead to bowl out India for a paltry score in the fourth innings. Facts mentioned later in this article will show that fears about biased and partial umpiring were real.

UMPIRING—THE PIECE de RESISTANCE

I.C.C. has given umpires the status of GODS. They cannot be questioned either by the players, officials or even the media. Their repeated blunders have to be accepted euphemistically as human errors. Cricket is no longer just a game. Umpiring blunders could finish careers of many a brilliant cricketers whose bread and butter is playing cricket. Poor teams could be made to win against the strongest teams thereby leaving poor taste in the mouths of millions of spectators all over the world. By merely looking at revenue collection and ignoring aspects that are causing rot in the management of this glorious game could kill interest in cricket and paying public, sponsors and advertisers could disappear overnight.

I.C.C. refuses to use modern technology for all types of decisions where it could be used to ensure correct decisions. Even in tennis, players are allowed to challenge a few decisions of linesmen and umpire. Why then in cricket which is known to be the fairest of all games, a player is denied this fundamental right!.Field umpires should be allowed to take help of the third umpire when technology could help make a correct decision. When technology in rare case fails to be conclusive, the decision should go in favor of the batsman as per convention.

UMPIRES AND MATCH-FIXING.

Power pollutes and absolute power pollutes absolutely. Umpires having been given absolute powers are therefore in a much better position to fix a match. If players were to be bribed to fix a match, the expense could be prohibitive as key players earn a lot and will therefore charge a lot to become dishonest. Also a minimum of four key players will have to be bribed. As against that, a dishonest umpire would be dirt cheap in comparison and a safer bet. Giving out two good batsmen and denying appeal against two good batsmen of the opposition will be all that is required to make a team lose and the other to win. I hope, I.C.C. realizes this and becomes very vigilant in future. Presently I.C.C. requires to investigate whether Mr. Aleem Dar was in anyway involved in match fixing in the 7th O.D.I. where he gave Rahul Dravid and Sachin out in a very suspicious manner.

HAS CRICKET REMAINED FAIR ?

When we come across anything unfair, we exclaim “it is not cricket”. However, cricket has lost its fairness due to unfair persons managing the game. During the three test series and seven O.D.I.s Sachin was given out wrongly five out of the total thirteen innings and Ganguly was given out wrongly at least twice out of the six test innings. When Simon Taufel , I.C.C.s best umpire gave Sachin out LBW in his nineties , he immediately realized his blunder when he saw replay on the big screen while Sachin was still walking back to the pavilion but he did not recall him. He however apologized later for his mistake. The same umpire however had recalled Kevin Peterson in an earlier incident when the television replay showed that Peterson was not out. As he had called Petrson earlier, it was easy and natural to have called Sachin also back in a similar manner but he was not recalled. Can Mr. Simon Taufel or anyone from the I.C.C. tell the world the reason for this gross partiality!. In the innings when Paul Collingwood scored a century, he was plumb LBW to Kumble even before he had opened his account but umpire rejected Kumbles strong appeal which enabled Collingwood to hit a ton. .It clearly proves that cricket is no longer game of the gentlemen. If the I.C.C. does not step in immediately to stop the rot, cricket will lose its charm and soon money will stop coming in and I.C.C. will have to sit and twiddle its thumbs.

EPILOGUE:

I.C.C. should immediately make available all possible technology to assist umpires to arrive at correct decisions.

Blunders of umpires should be meticulously investigated to rule out any possibility of match-fixing.

Umpires should be paid more and given limited work load by appointing more umpires to the elite panel.

All umpires should be medically checked every year to ensure top fitness.

A retirement age for umpire should be mandatory say an age of 55 or 60.

Players should be given the right to appeal to the third umpire. If his appeal was found to be frivolous, he should be punished with a fine of 25 runs and 50 percent of his match fees.

Lastly, all decisions which cannot be settled conclusively even after using technology should be given in favor of the batsman as per the present convention. .

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