Umpires should have taken ~~sterner action~~: Speed

Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 23:55 [IST]
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London: ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the umpires had made a 'mistake' in failing to lay disciplinary charges following the controversial clash between Glenn McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan during the fifth Test in Antigua earlier this month. Umpires David Shepherd of England and India's Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan described by Speed, as 'very experienced' officials took no action following the heated exchange between fast bowler McGrath and batsman Sarwan. "Our view was that the series was played in a good spirit," Speed told reporters at Lord's on Tuesday. Our view was that in one incident, possibly another incident, charges should have been laid." Speed, an Australian, later confirmed he was referring to the McGrath/Sarwan clash. This was not the first time Steve Waugh's Australian side had been involved in an unsavoury incident and Speed added: "This Australia team is one of the greatest teams we've seen in cricket. It would be a shame if it was remembered as a badly behaved team." Speed said leading umpires had been told of their responsibility to lay charges where appropriate under a new disciplinary code at a meeting in Dubai last month. Under the new system it is the umpires, including the third umpire's responsibility to bring charges before the match referee. Under the previous system the match referee acted as both prosecutor and judge. Speed himself intervened before the World Cup to ensure charges were brought against Australia batsman Darren Lehmann following racial remarks he had made about the Sri Lankans after he returned to the dressing room at Perth. However, Speed said, "I only have the power to lay a charge within 24 hours" (of an incident happening). He did this in the Lehmann incident, but as he did not see the McGrath/Sarwan encounter within that time frame. He explained that the ICC board was looking at ways of giving him "greater latitude" in disciplinary matters. "Players make mistakes. Umpires make mistakes. We don't want the umpires to over- react," Speed insisted. "And if the on-field umpires haven't seen an incident there is nothing to stop the third umpire laying a charge." Speed was speaking at the re-launch of the ICC's World Test Championship. Under the new system, every match in a series would contribute to a team's position in the table. Under the previous system only the results of series counted. And, in another change, the strength of the opposition would also be taken into account. Results to be included in the table would initially be backdated to August 1999. But every August the oldest set of results would be discounted to ensure the table was as up to date as possible. Under this rolling system the championship could change hands several times during the course of a year. The first series to be played under the new arrangements would be England's two Test campaign at home to Zimbabwe, which starts at Lord's on Thursday. Australia still remain top of the table with the only change being that West Indies have moved up from eighth to seventh at the expense of Pakistan. Speed also confirmed that the ICC was still withholding money from India, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka following World Cup infringements. England and New Zealand both had money withheld after boycotting World Cup matches in Zimbabwe and Kenya respectively while disputes over player contract terms cost India and Sri Lanka. Speed said there could be "downstream" claims from World Cup rights holders Global Cricket Corporation (GCC) but that he did not expect these to be fully settled until next year at the earliest. Copyright AFP 2001

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