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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bucknor defelicitated, and tour expected to continue

In March 2005 umpire Steve Bucknor was, as The Hindu reported at the time,

felicitated by the BCCI for becoming the world's first umpire to stand in hundred Tests on Wednesday.

Cricket Association of Bengal President and former BCCI Chief Jagmohan Dalmiya handed over a plaque to Bucknor shortly before the start of the opening day's play of the second cricket Test match at the Eden Gardens.

Dalmiya was accompanied by BCCI Joint Secretary Goutam Dasgupta during the brief function. Around 30,000 spectators broke into spontaneous applause as Bucknor raised the silver plaque in acknowledgment.

Today probably millions of Indian cricket followers will be applauding the news that the same umpire Bucknor has been defelicitated, ie removed from the umpiring panel for the Perth Test. His replacement is Billy Bowden, he of the flamboyant mannerisms , who a couple of years ago was rated the second worst umpire in the world". In Billy's defence he has claimed assistance from a higher power in his decision making ("God- is my third umpire in a way"). We must hope that God has access to good slo-mo replays from many angles, Hawkeye, Snicko et al, otherwise further controversy will almost certainly ensue.

As a consequence of Mr Bucknor's defelicitation it is now likely that the tour will go ahead.

Other news

Before tonight's news broke, media scrutiny of the situation had intensified following the statement issued by the Board of Control for Cricket in India

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has viewed the happenings during the second cricket Test between India and Australia in Sydney with great concern as some of these can have a far-reaching impact on international cricket.

Some of incidents are highly regrettable considering the warm and friendly relations between the Indian and Australian cricket boards.

The incident involving Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds and the subsequent hearing by the ICC match referee and his conclusions are, to say the least, distressing.

The Indian board does not accept the findings of the match referee and has decided to challenge the unfair decision to suspend Harbhajan Singh as it deems it patently unfair.

The board will appeal to the International Cricket Council to review the decision of the match referee and suspend its operation till the appeal is disposed of.

The Indian board realises the game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honour of the Indian team and for that matter every Indian.

To vindicate its position, the board will fight the blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player.

The board also questions the very conduct of the hearing as the match referee, before reaching his decision disregarded the essential point of any inquiry, that it should be based on facts, rational, detached and objective.

The board, in particular, is unhappy with the charge of racial slur against India's off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Here it may be mentioned that it is an avowed policy of the Indian government to fight racial discrimination at every level and the India board has been at the forefront to eradicate it from the game of cricket.

For the Indian board anti-racial stance is an article of faith as it is for the entire nation which fought the apartheid policies.

The board has always fought the racist sledging of players and spectators and it will continue to do so.

Here in Australia a large proportion, perhaps a majority, of the public and, in the media, Peter Roebuck in The Age and, to a lesser degree, Mike Coward in The Australian expressed similar sentiments. Roebuck didn't mince his words (though IMO went too far) :

Ricky Ponting must be sacked as captain of the Australian cricket team.

If Cricket Australia cares a fig for the tattered reputation of our national team in our national sport, it will not for a moment longer tolerate the sort of arrogant and abrasive conduct seen from the captain and his senior players in the past few days. It was the ugliest performance by an Australian side for 20 years. The only surprising part of it is that the Indians have not already packed and gone home.

That the senior players in the Australian team are oblivious to the fury they raised among many followers of the game in this country and beyond its shores merely confirms their own narrow and self-obsessed viewpoint.

Coward was more restrained, but still made his point forcefully:

Indian cricket captain Anil Kumble's denunciation of the way Australia plays cricket will be widely supported throughout the international cricket community.

The Australian cricket team has been accused of boorish behaviour.

By so publicly questioning the manner in which the Australian cricket team plays he is expressing a view held by many people in this country and many more beyond the Indian diaspora...For someone renowned for his thoughtful and measured approach to matters on and off the field, his statement was a damning condemnation of the operational methods of the most powerful and successful cricket team in the world


With the full support of the team management, his employer, the Board of Control for Cricket in India and, unquestionably, a partisan and ropeable Indian media, Kumble has loudly questioned the ethics of the Australian team.

As a counterweight to these views each paper published alternative (or pro- Australian) views, viz "If petulance has no place at junior level, it has no place at all in Tests" by Greg Baum in The Age, and Malcolm Conn in The Australian "Calls for Ponting's head ludicrous" .

Ponting himself in his column in The Australian says " I was doing the right thing by the game".
The views of Indian newspapers are outlined in The Australian, The Age and the London Daily Telegraph (whose story includes an interesting photo of the front pages of several Indian English language newspapers).

The Telegraph also has a background piece about sledging by Leo McKinstrywhich includes a couple of good (perhaps apocryphal) anecdotes about Australian sledging in the distant past (ie in the early days of my interest in cricket).

To finish on a lighter note, The Hindu reports that the Indian lawyers team have just won the Lawyers' cricket world cup. Perhaps their legal skills will be called upon to help the BCCI with its appeal against the Harbhajan Singh ban.

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