Dickie Bird says Bucknor should retire

Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2008, 23:25 [IST]
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Bucknor should call it a day: Bird

London: Legendary English umpire Dickie Bird believes Steve Bucknor has "gone on too long" and that it is now time for him to retire from international cricket.

Bucknor found himself involved in a major controversy after making several debatable decisions during last week's second Test between Australia and India in Sydney.

An incensed India demanded the 61-year-old be replaced for the upcoming third Test in Perth and, on Tuesday, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said New Zealand's Billy Bowden would take the West Indian's place.

Bucknor has stood in a world record 120 Tests but Bird believes age has finally caught up with the Jamaican, one of the officials whose failure to correctly interpret bad light rules led to the farcical finish in darkness of April's World Cup final in Barbados.

"When you get to that age... I have said to Steve, 'Don't go on too long, get out while you are still respected'. I think he has gone on too long," added Bird, who retired from the international game in 1996, having stood in a then record 66 Tests, told Sky Sports on Monday.

India were also angered by the decision of Mike Procter, the match referee in Sydney, to suspend off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for three Tests for racially abusing Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds.

They effectively put their tour on hold as they appealed against the bowler's punishment although Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Niranjan Shan said later Tuesday the tour "should continue for the present".

Bird, who during the course of his career was well-known for his ability to defuse on-field tensions between players before they escalated into major incidents, said Bucknor and on-field colleague Mark Benson could have done more to prevent matters getting out of hand in Sydney.

"I think the umpires should have got the captains together on the field in front of everyone and said, 'Let's get on with this game and play it in the correct spirit and finish the Test without any problems'."

He added: "If they (India) feel that an umpire is not up to I think they have the right to say so. That is my view of it.

"But I do believe if umpires are appointed to a Test match they should see it through. That has not happened in this instance."

Meanwhile former England fast bowler Andy Caddick, still playing first-class cricket for Somerset, said umpires weren't helped by being put under pressure by players.

"It is part of the sport, it is what it has evolved to," the 39-year-old told BBC Radio. "You try to influence the umpires. Some days you'll get a decision and some days you won't."

He added: "Umpiring under the scrutiny of TV is a very difficult job to do. Umpires do get things wrong and players get things wrong, unfortunately it's always the umpires that stay in the limelight.

"Players will try to influence the umpires' decisions. It's up to the individual umpire to be strong enough in character to sort that out - but perhaps the players need to be reprimanded rather than the umpires."

As debate continues throughout the cricket world regarding 'sledging' - the practice of players trying to verbally intimidate their opponents - Caddick said it was something top-flight performers had to accept.

"It's professional cricket, things will be said - that's life. At the end of the day if you're a strong enough character you'll get over it. It's part and parcel of the sport."


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