Jan 6, 2008

Aussie high-handedness

I am not sure which is more despicable: an on field umpire trusting a fielder for a doubtful catch at a crucial juncture of the match or a captain eating his own words publicly in front of a global audience. India has been at the raw end of many unfortunate umpiring errors in matches abroad but none more than the just concluded match at Sydney. Its just that for some reason or the other just when India plays some good cricket, all the good work is undone by the umpires. We saw it in England before. We saw it in South Africa. And its happened in Sydney now. India has been very consistent in Test matches last two years or so. This is especially due to their good performance outside India.

I am not going to talk about Bucknor's decision to Dravid. Bucknor, who generally takes an hour to give a decision even if the batsman gets clean bowled, was quick to give Dravid out caught by Gilchrist. Its a different story that ball was no where near the bat. Umpires do err. But to be so consisently inconsistent against a team is frustrating to say the least.

The icing on the cake (or salt onto the wound whichever you feel) was done by Benson. I have seen batsmen stand for more obvious catches. If the Umpire has a doubt he consults the leg umpire. If they are still unsure, the third umpire is called up to see if the catch is clean. But on this occasion Benson thought it to be prudent to go by the word of Ponting who was not even the catcher. The ball was caught by Clarke after a bounce. The thing that irked me the most is Ponting's indication that the catch is clean! He was not the catcher and he cannot claim that. If his argument is that he was close by Clarke and so can vouch for the catch, it shows him more clearly to be the liar he was at that moment. In the post match conference, Ponting argued that before the match the two captains have agreed to respect the judgement of the catcher for close catches, instead of going to the third umpire. Obviously that applies only to the batsmen who are to take the word of the catcher and not the Umpire. Benson is an idiot to listen to what Ponting says as to the legality of the catch. If he relies on the players to make decisions, then what is the third umpire for. He might as well ask the batsman the next time if he thinks he is out lbw.

Add to this Gilchrist's appeal for a catch off Dravid's pad (which was upheld) and Ponting's appeal for a catch off Dhoni's pad (the ball hit the ground and Ponting also grasses the catch) you have a perfect pattern for the day. Video replays clearly show Ponting grass the catch and when questioned his reply is : "There's no way I grounded that ball. If you're actually questioning my integrity in the game, then you shouldn't be standing there,". So he assumes that nobody has the right to question him. A clear case of Aussie high-handedness.

If you think this is as bad as things can go, you are wrong. The Australian commentators were acting the clowns. Especially Mark Taylor who was justifying the action of the Umpire. How can a person be so pathetically blind to the obvious. Its normal to swear allegiance to a team. But you cannot call a bluff by trying to hide the plain truth. Taylor said that the umpire Benson was right. The reason is, in his very own words while commentating, Benson had to take a decision and he could have asked Bucknor for help or asked the fielding team as to the validity of the catch. And he chose to do the latter. So he did what he can do and so he cant be blamed. Probably he assumed that the third umpires are wax dolls installed to fill the seats in the stadium.

I can now sympathize with the adrenaline rush of all the psycho killers in the world who go running around with an axe because I felt highly inclined to do the same with Taylor and others. They had other similar excuses and they even cited the Ponting-Kumble pre-series agreement about taking the word of the catcher as if it is a written code of conduct and so batsman should not question the fielders word. Just imagine if things had been other way around and Australia experienced these things in India. The moment they set foot on Australia, Ponting would come out openly against the umpiring standards, verbally thrashing the umpires and how Indian players did not uphold the spirit of the game and were a big let down for 'him'. And ICC will not penalize him for breaching the code of conduct for openly complaining against match officials, while had any of the Indian did that last night a disciplinary action would be initiated immediately. And the Australians accuse Harbhajjan of being a racist!!

I wonder how Kumble managed to remain sane at the end of the day.


Arun January 10, 2008 at 7:46:00 AM EST  

Dude, It was Michael Slater who was justifying Ponting, not Mark Taylor. Mark Taylor was the one who said -"Ponting has opened the pandora's box". This happened when he was with Sunil Gavaskar with Simon'O Donnell as the host. Slater said what you had quoted and kept on saying - Aussies play hard and this andthat, for which Tony Greig retorted back saying -"You still haven't answered my question. Where is the famous aussie spirit - what happens on the field, stays on the field"

Anyways, Aussies suck, BIGGGGGGGG time.

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