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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Billy won't be a hero (or a minor media celebrity)

Unlike so many others, I've refrained from commenting upon the sacking of Darrell Hair from the elite panel of umpires, a matter of which we may not have heard the last: see here for a recent (13 November) report.

Today's Australian publishes a letter from Tom Veivers ,a former Test cricketer (not, as he mistakenly states, umpire) , who criticises both Hair and Cricket Australia:

During my own Test umpiring [sic] career the best umpires were invariably those who were the least noticed.

There are many who see Hair falling into the category of those umpires who seem to believe that spectators come to matches to see them umpire. Why does Cricket Australia want to continue the controversy by appointing him to officiate in our domestic cricket?

I've sent this to the Australian:

I'm a cricket spectator who agrees with Tom Veivers that the best umpires are those who are the "least noticed". I've never attended a game to see Darrell Hair (or anyone else) umpire, so don't see why, in the absence of more compelling evidence about his alleged lack of competence, that he shouldn't umpire Australian domestic first class games. I would also like to know why, if being "least noticed" is a criterion for selection of test match umpires, Billy Bowden has been appointed to the first Ashes Test.

I'm obviously not the only person who has a similar concern, as reports of his appointment elsewhere in the media, eg here , suggest. The Age report summarises the issues succinctly :

His flamboyant signalling , often unguarded media comments and cultivation of personal publicity have made him a minor media celebrity.He was highly rated by players at the start of his international career, but last year 73 per cent of Australia's 25 contracted players rated Bowden the second-worst umpire in world cricket.

I'll reserve my judgment, and give the benefit of the doubt to a man who has claimed "God - he is my third umpire in a way".

To give him his due, Mr Bowden has occasionally admitted to occasional fallibility , It's probably just as well that India aren't playing for the Ashes (they may be working on it but have a little way to go) otherwise he might come in for even more criticism like this.

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