Match referee Smith disappoints again

Written by: D Ram Raj
Published: Saturday, March 10, 2001, 15:00 [IST]
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Bangalore: Justice delayed - goes the adage - is justice denied. But, in the case of Australia's Michael Slater it appeared that it would be better late than never. However, the joy of having a "foreign player" suspended on Indian soil by a match referee has indeed been shortlived.

Following the media hype about Slater's ban for his comment on an Australian radio show about his spat with Rahul Dravid, West Indian match referee Cammie Wilberforce Smith has made it clear that Slater has only been slapped a suspended ban. Meaning Slater will be under probation for six months during which period if he misbehaves again, he would be suspended for a match.

During his previous sojourn to India as match referee, Cammie Smith as the popular West Indian is known as told this correspondent that there was a clear line of distinction (however thin) between dissent and disappointment.

And what Slater did after his claim for a catch against Rahul Dravid was disallowed by the third umpire clearly was dissent and not just plain disappointment. With the television cameras zeroing on him, Slater clearly remonstrated with umpire S Venkatraghavan and Dravid.

The news of the Slater ban as unanimously reported by all media was indeed welcome as there always was an inherent feeling of racial discrimination in cricket. Irrespective of the fact that Dravid and Slater settled the matter in the dressing room after India's loss, one felt that the match referee had let the Australian opening bat get away with just a warning.

The reported clarification of the match referee stating that Slater had only been served a suspended sentence once again strengthens the feeling that the discrimination after all still continues in the "White man's game".

Even as one ponders on the Slater issue, the thoughts quickly flit to the punishment meted out to Sri Lankan skipper Sanath Jayasuriya by Indian match referee Hanumant Singh.

Thanks to the Sri Lanka TV rights imbroglio most of us have been denied the opportunity of the England-Sri Lanka series, which according to media reports have been replete with umpiring gaffes and controversies.

The Britishers somehow seem to be getting an additional yard of mileage in the sub-continent. Their tour to Pakistan was taken a lot of trepidation with the back drop of the Shakoor Rana-Mike Gatting show down. Though they didn't create much waves in Pakistan, they have been in the centre of a storm from the first Test which they lost by an innings.

But, one surely gets a feeling that Hanumant Singh may have taken too strong a stand given the fact that umpire B C Cooray has been subject a lot of media attention for his decisions.

In the long run, one hopes the game will not get marred by more such on field and off field controversies and will retain its pure pristine glory of the bat meeting the ball.

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