Thatscricket - News - Cricket: Will Indians get on-field umpiring justice now?
Published: Saturday, September 22, 2001, 1:24 [IST]
Forward to 1997:
The same unholy play. With 0-2 down in the Test series, the Indians were on the verge of a morale-boosting win in the final Test at Johannesburg when rain and slow tactics adopted by South Africa ensured that the Test was drawn. Instead of playing a sporting game, South African batsmen changed attire at their own sweet time, held prolonged consultations at the wicket and did every possible thing to avert defeat. Needless to say the umpires were looking skywards rather than at the match proceedings as the home team successfully saved the match.
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Bangalore: As the Indian cricket team embarks upon the tour of South Africa this October, one hopes not just for gutsy performances from our players but also that they get justice as far as the on-field umpiring and refereeing is concerned, for, that is one matter to have quite often rankled touring Indian sides in the past.[an error occurred while processing this directive]While the Indian cricket team has certainly not distinguished itself with its on-field performances in the 70-years since its inception into international cricket (1932), especially on foreign or 'away' tours as they are called (winning only 15 out of almost 200 Test matches played abroad), the various teams that have represented the country have certainly conducted themselves with aplomb as far as the behaviour of the players is concerned. Though biased ruling by 'match referees' and 'umpires' in recent years has seen a few Indian players punished with suspension from matches, cut in match fees, etc, many among such verdicts are incredulous and unwarranted (like the one against Saurav Ganguly during the recent series against Sri Lanka).What surprises one is that the opponents, invariably in every case, get away with whatever they do, whether it is in the right spirit of the game or otherwise. Unfortunately, though the team management sends a 'protest' letter to the local associations, the matter ends there without any fruitful discussion of the matter. Our administrators, busy filling-up their coffers with the huge money the game brings don't have the time (pride?) to pursue the matter for reasons that may not be easily fathomed. Mind's eye cannot easily forget a few of the most acrimonious tours our cricketers have had to 'suffer' for no fault of theirs. 1992/1997 - In South Africa, after almost a two-decade ban on SA from international cricket owing to apartheid, South Africa got a return call to international arena with India playing a key role in bringing them back to the mainstream cricket. But what they did to our players was simply distasteful. During the second One-day match at Port Elizabeth (1992 series), when Kapil technically 'ran out' South African batsman Peter Kerstin as the latter came out of the crease at bowler's end in spite of Kapil's warning, a rowdy-looking Kepler Wessels, the South Africa captain, hit Kapil on the shin with his bat on the pretext of taking a sharp run. Shockingly, the match referee, Clive Lloyd turned a blind eye to the whole incident. A shameful excuse that the South Africa-cameramen did not allow Lloyd to view the replay of the incident, when nothing less than a 'ban for life from cricket' was what was required. Umpires? Well, they were not interested in the incident too! If this is not bad blood, nothing else can be termed so. And the worst part of the entire sordid affair was that what Kapil did was very much within the limits of cricket laws. During the second Test of the same series, the concept of TV-umpire was introduced. Alas, having even a 'neutral' umpire did not help as when South Africa batsman Jonty Rhodes was clearly run out as per replays, Windies umpire Steve Bucknor, normally a respected official, refused to consult the 'third-eye' with the result that Rhodes went on to score 91 that proved decisive in India being thwarted from a possible victory. Ironically, the same umpire took the help of the third-eye to rule Sachin Tendulkar out later in the same series the first ever decision to have involved the 'third-eye' in the world of cricket.