A Quote for life!

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for Insects

Robert A Heinlein
(American science-fiction writer,1907-1988)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Role of Umpires in the game of Cricket!

Cricket is a game played by Gentlemen. Gentlemen know how to behave with each other; what and what not to do when you are in and around the 22 yards. The game used to be played by only those having the blue blood, may be some 200 years back; and they had known all what the various good practices in a cricket ground. However, one of those royal cricketers once decided that they should have one another gentleman governing the game, who can check if the bowler is stepping outside the popping crease or if he is bowling too much away from the batsmen where the ball can not be hit. So, they appointed a highly respected and beloved courtier and requested him to stand in the sun with them while they play and preside over the proceedings. This honorable man was named as the ‘Umpire’. Batsmen started asking him about the various instances and used to take his opinion on the type, pace and line in which the bowler will bowl and whether he is standing in the correct place before the bowler starts to deliver. He was appointed to guide and assist the batmen, which he used to do perfectly. The umpire used to count the number of valid balls delivered by the bowler and he used to announce that the turn of the current bowler is over, once he bowled eight (8) balls. Later came, the rule of getting out when you have your ‘Leg before the Wicket’ and a ball going to hit the wickets hits you. So, it was decided by the kings and the princes that the umpire will check even that and will decide whether the ball was actually going to hit the wickets or not. Soon after, it was seen that some of the royal people were actually deviating from the line on which gentlemen used to walk all these days, and challenging the umpire on moments of getting run out on the far end (the striker’s end) and they decided to have another gentleman stand in the leg side of the batsman and they named them ‘Leg Umpire’. Then, it used to be two batsmen, eleven players of the fielding side and two umpires in the ground while a single game of cricket was being played between the royal cricket teams.

This setup went on for a couple of centuries. By now, cricket spread in the other continents and countries like India, East Africa and West Indies started showing interest in the game. The reason was not because they were real good in this game and want to put up a show against the teams who have been playing cricket for so many years now. The reason was simple. They were taught the game so that they can give company to the young (and old) princes and ministers and can field, when the ‘king-lets’ bowl and bat. Later some one of those fielders chose to stand out and ask for the bat and to our astonishment, they agreed to give him a chance. He made history; but that is a different story to be told somewhere else.

Let’s talk about the present age. By now, cricket is in every nook and corner of the globe. Is there any single latitude or a single longitude where the game is not played? Oh, I’m not a geographer – can not exactly tell you that, but the spread is all around and multidimensional. Many a things have changed. The game itself has gone through a lot of phase changes and finally has taken place in the stubborn and polished shoulders of International Cricket Council, the ICC, as we all better know it. The game has changed to three days Test Matches to 60 over’s One Day International to 6 over’s two a side cricket and what not? Now, an over is to have only 6 balls and a short version of the game – only 20 overs! People do want to enjoy the game, but don’t have patience and time for it. The art has given away to rash rotating of bats; front foot cover drive had given away to last minute slogging; Dravids have given away to Dhonis! In a way, the game has degraded a lot – only because of its craze; because so many people love this game.

Whatever might happen with the rules and regulations of the game, the umpires are the same old ones, with large hats and no hair; with big tummies and funny gestures. Now, a ‘Third Umpire’ has been appointed who decides (whenever a field umpire thinks that the decision can not be taken based only on the various instances that can be perceived by naked senses, and refer the decision to the third umpire) based on retakes shown in the Television. Television has been a big instrument to make cricket popular in the villages and in the darker continents (dark because they were not having the light of cricket). It has helped people sitting in Luxemburg to watch a match played between India and Bangladesh at Chittagong. It has helped the Physical Training teacher of Agartala, Tripura to know how Graham Gooch played that leg glance to Malcolm Marshal in the Caribbean. This very television is used to see the instance from various angles and perspectives and then the third umpire decides upon the fate of a batsman or a bowler and in turn of a whole match. Another umpire is kept as a backup – the fourth umpire. He is called in if any one of the first two fell ill or get in a condition where it is not possible for them to continue in the field. Apart from all these four gentlemen, there is one more – called the match referee, who is the chairperson of the show. He keeps an eye on the proceedings and the behavior of the players in and around the field and keeps checking the rule book – constitution of ICC to see if he can force any of the players to be away from the field for some time, so that the world can be prevented from some good cricketing actions!

Yes, you are thinking correctly now. The last sentence would show what actually I am going to say. I really think that cricket is loosing its cultural and parental features and the very look of the game is deformed now. The umpires are the main concern of this writing. A small mistake, by an umpire, for which he would apologize after a couple of days, has potential to retard, if not ruin, a player’s career. At present conditions, when you have all sort of technology at your disposal, why does a gentleman (aka umpire) hesitates to refer the decision to the TV umpire? When you are confused of the instance, why not use the technology then? Why are the decisions not referred to the third umpire who is paid only for this? I appreciate umpires coming out and admitting their fault – but who paid for that? Is it the management, or the umpires? No. It is the bowler, who could not get a genuine nick or the batsman, who got out on a ball directed towards first sleep. Hope people (the gentle umpires) understand the pressure in which the players play and the stake they handle with every ball delivered or every run scored. It’s high time now, and should be brought under scrutiny. If a player misbehaves or even tells one from the opponent to go and wash his face, he is fined 25 to 300 percent of the match fee or is made to skip a few Test matches of his career. So, why not an umpire who is behaving ever worse and deciding wrongly be penalized? Or is it so, that we are expecting the umpire to decide wrongly twice in both the innings for both the teams, so that we can nullify the impact? Well, that may be a reason that ICC or other cricket bodies can think of; but I do believe that it is a bit funny. What are your thoughts on this?

1 Thoughts on this post...:

Tan Thursday, October 11, 2007  

Recently I came to know that this picture here (of the two Umpires) are from the Test where Pakistan was blamed for tempering the Ball and they walked out... Its Doctrove and Hare there ... Another example of modern age umpiring ...

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