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October - November 2008
India Sport Scene
Lots of things are happening in International cricket and some of the interesting and important ones are being touched upon in this article.
‘THE REVIEW SYSTEM’
For several years this writer was writing in various newspapers and sports magazines requesting the ICC to allow the use of modern technology to the umpires so that the players and the teams do not suffer due to wrong umpiring decisions. The wrong decisions could be either due to incompetence or due to dishonesty. The Test match between India/Australia last season had more than a dozen wrong decisions against India. India lost the match. The partners in crime were umpires Steve Bucknor and his co-umpire. Although Bucknor was suspended for some time the ICC did not bother to investigate whether there was match fixing by the umpires and how much cash exchanged hands. Due to this, ICC woke up and introduced the review system on an experimental basis in the Test series between India/Sri Lanka which concluded recently. Although the third umpire (TV) was not given full facilities he could still correct about a dozen wrong decisions of the field umpires. This clearly shows the benefit of modern technology and its use. Two facilities which were important but missing were the absence of Hotspot and Snickometer. One more lapse occurred during these Test matches namely there were three neutral umpires instead of four. One of the neutral umpires officiating had upset stomach and taken ill (was it by eating the spicy prawn curry, a delicacy of Sri Lanka?) The neutral TV umpire had to officiate on the field and the TV umpire’s job had to be given to a local Lankan umpire. The latter shamelessly gave decisions wrongly in favor of Sri Lanka. When field umpires give wrong decisions it is difficult to be certain whether it is due to incompetence or dishonesty. However when many replays from various angles are available to TV umpires and if he gives decisions just the opposite of what millions of TV viewers can see than it is obvious that ?the gentleman in question is dishonest. To avoid such instances in future the ICC should appoint four neutral umpires for all International cricket matches whether Tests ODI’s or T20 matches. Umpires should be provided with all possible modern technology including Hotspot and Snickometer.
THE IPL AND CRICKET CALENDER FOR INTERNATIONAL CRICKET
Already the cricket calendar was chockablock full and the IPL has intruded. Cricket is no longer only a game. It is a great money spinner making various cricket boards rich bodies. India being a cricket crazy nation, its Board the BCCI is the richest cricket body in the world. As a result IPL which makes everybody rich whether players or cricket bodies has come to stay. As official matches are bound to clash with the IPL matches the ICC will have to take corrective steps so that neither official nor the IPL matches get a step motherly treatment. To correct this anomaly the solution is simple given vide infra:-
1, The Test and the ODI teams should be divided every calendar year into 2 divisions.
Division 1 shall consist of top 5 teams and Division 2 the remaining teams. The bottom team of Division 1 at the end of the year shall be relegated to Division 2 whereas the Top team of Division 2 shall be elevated to Division 1. Teams of each division will play only against each other. The incongruity of a giant team like Australia playing with a pigmy like Bangladesh will not arise. .Such mismatch to-day is decreasing the interest of the spectators. If any particular country has more talent and strong bench strength, A teams of such countries could also be included in Division 2.
2 Four to six weeks should be reserved for matches of all countries which are similar to IPL tournament of India. This period should be decided by the respective countries and during this period there should be no official International matches played in that country by that country. For Indian IPL January, February could be the best months.
3 To be able to finish the IPL matches within a month the teams should be divided into two groups A and B. They shall play league matches amongst themselves. The two best teams from each group shall play semi-finals and finals on a knockout basis. At least three clear days should be provided between matches so that all the players are sufficiently recovered to play the next game.
4. Test matches should be restricted to four days with 100 over each day and there shall be only 3 Tests matches ,3 ODI s, and 3 T 20 matches between two countries Four days shall be enough for Test matches to finish because of the advent of the referral system. There shall be at least 5 clear days between Tests and 3 clear days between ODI’s and T20 matches. This arrangement will allow many spare days during the calendar year for other matches.
5. World Cup could be held for Tests, ODI s and T20 every three years thereby each year having the excitement of one World Cup.
6. Lastly two best umpires from each country should be appointed to the elite panel and should be paid well. Four neutral umpires should be appointed for every type of International match. They also should have medical fitness every year and a retiring age not beyond 55 yrs.
7. Players should be allowed to play any matches they choose to play and their selection for official teams should be purely on merit and not on whether they played for ICL or any other unofficial team. Sport officials should cease to be mean and dictatorial and should encourage anything which is in the interest of cricket and cricketers.
AJANTHA THE CONUNDRUM:
Cricket has known a few freak bowlers. There was one Jack Iverson who was able to bowl right handed as well as left handed with equal ability. It is alleged that he could turn the ball either way without altering his action. His talent was discovered very late and he could play only a few Tests for Australia fooling the opposing batsmen into indiscretions. Then came Sunny Ramadhin of the West Indies who along with his more orthodox spin partner Alfred Valentine demolished the English batsmen to win the Test series for West Indies. His bowling remained an enigma for a long time. Now has come Ajantha who is a bigger conundrum than either of the two earlier bowlers. He has supposedly five different types of deliveries and they are bowled with no obvious change in action. On the top of it he is very accurate in both length and direction. He with Murlitharan have the potential to take Sri Lanka to the top. Let us wait and watch.