Bucknor - a synonym for blunder

Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Bangalore: Since yonks, Steve Bucknor, the most experienced umpire, has been a spoilsport for Indian cricket. The former Mathematics professor and soccer referee, it seems, has a predilection for logic! But it's a paradox that he orchestrated a tragically illogical loss for India and a magical victory for the undeserving Aussies at Sydney.

His histrionic decision-making against India began in the 1992 South Africa series, when he did not refer a run-out appeal against Jonty Rhodes, who was almost out by a foot! Incidentally, it was the first Test match in which the TV umpire concept was introduced. SA were 90/6 at that time, but thanks to His foolishness Steve Bucknor, they went on to make 350/6 with the batsman in question making 90.

In the 1998-99 series against Pakistan, Shoaib Akhtar obstructed Sachin Tendulkar as he failed to make it to the crease. Bucknor ignores this fact and refers the appeal to the TV umpire. To the consternation of India and its supporters, the red light flashed,and the master had to take the long route back to the pavilion. Eden Gardens erupted in humiliation and the stadium had to be cleared of spectators for the continuation of the match.

It was again the master blaster at the receiving end in the 2003-04 series against Oz. The controversial umpire ruled Tendulkar out LBW. Replays showed that the ball was going well above the stumps on the bounce Brisbane track.

Not many knew that Bucknor was a mimic until he was caught mimicking Rahul Dravid on camera at the SCG. Indians lodged a complaint with the ICC. By this mimic, he reduced the standard of the officials to mere sham.

What would have been a historic victory for Indians was denied by this biased umpire when he turned down myriad close LBW appeals against the Aussies. The then captain Sourav Ganguly, rated his umpiring 'very poor' in his report to the ICC. The ICC was very generous in giving the same umpire to officiate in the series against Pakistan.

His decisions have infuriated the coaches too, along with the players. In the series against Pakistan in 2004, the then coach John Wright, barged into the match referee Rangan Madugalle's room after he was unhappy with Steve Bucknor's umpiring at the Gadaffi Stadium. The coach strongly felt that the West Indian was biased. India lost the match.

In 2005, at the Eden Gardens, Bucknor stood in his hundredth Test match, and need it be mentioned that he blundered yet again? Mr. Bucknor ruled Tendulkar caught behind yet again when the bat and the ball were miles apart from each other. So great was the effect on Tendulkar that, he shed a tear or two, his teammates reckoned.

In this year, the procurator fiscal was at his worst from the beginning of the year itself. Andrew Symonds was ruled not out after he edged Ishant to Dhoni. Australia was 193/6 at this juncture, and they went on to make 376/7 at close of play. A few Indian players swore that they never had heard such a loud nick before. On watching the horrendous decision, Ian Chappell reckoned, “It was the worst decision I've ever seen since surviving one against Michael Holding during Kerry Packer days.“

On the grapevine, canards are that Steve Bucknor was in favour of Aussies. One of the Australian gambling syndicates paid them huge sum to keep the Aussie record intact. A billionaire approached them to help the Aussie cause. These canards have some truth when one takes a look at the controversial decisions made by these men. Why didn't these men refer these contentious decisions to the third umpire? Check out these decisions which could have been avoided:

Day 1: English umpire Mark Benson did not give Ponting out, caught down leg side by Dhoni of Ganguly, when replays showed that Punter nicked the ball when on 17 and went on to make 55. And it is a shame that Ponting stood his ground despite a huge nick.

Day 1: Indian players' appeals fell on deaf ears as a senile and confused Steve Bucknor ruled Symonds not out despite the batsman getting a thick edge of Ishant when on 30 (Australia 193/6) and he went on to make 162 not out. And how can you expect a Aussie batsmen to walk?

Day 1: Third umpire Oxenford gave Symonds benefit of doubt despite the replays clearly showing that the batsman's foot was off the ground when Dhoni stumped him. And the burly Queenslander was on 65.

Day 2: The senile Jamaican umpire Bucknor did not refer a stumping appeal by Dhoni against Symonds of Kumble to third umpire despite the fact that Symonds foot was outside the crease. Symond's score was 148 (Australia: 421/6). How on earth is this sell-by-date umpire still in the elite panel, despite the howlers he makes and continues doing these 'consistently'?

Day 2: It is Bucknor again who failed to notice Lee overstepping the crease time and again as is shown in TV replays and in the end Lee got a wicket off no-ball. Wasim Jaffer was at the receiving end.

Day 4: Englishman Benson turned down RP Singh's appeal for caught behind against Hussey when the batsman was on 45. Replays showed that Hussey nicked the ball (Australia 188/2). Why is that umpires refrain from referring to third umpires when it is sheer impossible to hear the nicks infront of the packed and noisy crowd and that too at SCG one of the big stadiums.

Day 5: Bucknor, who normally takes time to give his decisions, was spontaneous in upholding the Aussie appeal for caught behind for Dravid of Symonds when the ball was missing Dravid's willow by miles. Dravid was on 38. (India: 115/3). This was a crucial blow for the visitors.

Day 5: Benson ruled Ganguly out after consulting Ponting on the legitimacy of Clarke's catch. Replays clearly showed the catch wasn't completed. Ganguly was on 51 (India: 137/6). And that was a deathly blow to Indian hopes.

Lop sided verdict: To add insult to injury, match referee Mike Procter incriminated off spinner Harbhajan Singh as a racist, to which India erupted in indignation. When Symonds and Harbhajan spoke to each other on the 3rd day of the Sydney Test match, it was only Sachin Tendulkar who was closest to the two. Strangely, four other Australians, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke and Matthew Hayden along with the complainant Andrew Symonds, vied for Harbhajan's blood. The revered and respected Indian cricketer's disposition was ignored and Bhajji was handed a three-Test ban in a lop-sided verdict pronounced by a pro-west Procter.


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