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Bucknor on third umpire
by Gulu Ezekiel
May 14, 2006
Indian cricketers must be nodding their heads in agreement with Jamaican umpire Steve Bucknor who has rocked the cricket world with his startling revelations about TV replays.

Speaking to a newspaper in Trinidad, the world’'s most experienced umpire has alleged that TV crews in his personal experience have been known to manipulate pictures both to make umpires look bad and also to protect key batsmen of the home side.“ "When these things are happening, it makes life extremely difficult for the umpires. Who do you trust from there on you don't know," Bucknor says plaintively.

Now Bucknor has never been a favourite of Indian teams down the years, ever since he declined to go for the third umpire’'s verdict when an appeal for run out against Jonty Rhodes was made in the 1992 series in South Africa.

Rhodes was clearly out and his reprieve proved costly for the tourists. Incidentally, that was the first series when the third umpire’'s referral was tried out.

It was on the same tour that South Africa’'s captain Kepler Wessels was the beneficiary of a friendly TV crew working for the South Africa Broadcasting Union, obviously in cahoots with the United Cricket Board of South Africa.

It occurred on December 9 during the second ODI at Port Elizabeth. After warning Peter Kirsten for backing up too far, Kapil Dev ran him out at the bowler’s end in the process of delivering the ball (aka ‘Mankad'ing’).

Wessels and Kirsten angrily remonstrated with the Indians but the umpire had no hesitation in giving the batsman out.

Minutes later while crossing for a run, Wessels struck Kapil a blow on the shins, bringing him crashing down to the ground, writhing in pain.

The Indian team management lodged a complaint with Match Referee Clive Lloyd who asked to see the recordings. He was informed they had got ‘lost’, apparently inadvertently ‘erased’ and thus with the evidence destroyed, no action could be taken against Wessels!

This incidentally was the first time India had visited South Africa, the so-called ‘Friendship Series.’

It was when India last visited South Africa in 2001 that the cricket world headed for a split after six Indian cricketers were punished by Match Referee Mike Denness for various alleged transgressions.

Once again the venue was Port Elizabeth in November 2001 and this time it was Sachin Tendulkar who was a victim to a patriotic South African cameraman. He had spotted Tendulkar cleaning mud and grass off the seam of the ball with his finger-nails and brought this to the notice of the Match Referee.

Denness fined Tendulkar 75% of his match fee and gave him a suspended ban for one Test for “interference with the match ball, thus changing its appearance ”—in effect, a charge of ball tampering.

Denness later clarified that Tendulkar had actually been penalised based on a technicality— he had not been tampering with the ball, but just cleaning mud and grass off the seam without informing the umpires of his action as had recently been stipulated in the rules. But the damage had been done by then.

Denness really blew his own case when he admitted that Tendulkar’s actions had not been brought to his notice by the two on-field umpires but he had acted on his own initiative after scrutiny of video footage. This was in clear violation of ICC stipulations whereby Match Referees could only punish a player if his actions had been brought to their notice by the on-field umpires.

The subsequent storm raised by the BCCI helped bring in legislation whereby players could appeal their sentences before a tribunal.

 
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