|Lara plays spoilsport in Antigua|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Jun 10, 2006|
If you are an Indian Test cricketer or fan it would be
hard not to feel a sense of outrage at the end of the
first Test at St. John’s, Antigua.
It appears with the World Cup in the West Indies just
eight months away and the home team in crisis, the ICC
is unwilling to do anything to rock the boat.
The glory days of West Indies cricket are long gone
and may never be regained. But the manner in which
their captain and master batsman Brian Lara behaved on
the fourth day of the match, it is time to stop
shedding tears over the imminent death of the Calypso
It is hard to decide whom to blame more, —third umpire
Billy Doctrove for his shocking inability to rule MS
Dhoni not out when he was not certain of the boundary
catch, —the time-honoured benefit of the doubt going to
the batsman; Lara for the shameful way he intimidated
two young batsmen (Kaif the other) at the crease and
the umpires too; the on-field umpires for allowing
Lara to act petulantly and then not lodging a
complaint with the Match Referee or the ICC who have
been thoroughly exposed when it comes to selectively
imposing fines and suspensions on players.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayarwardene was fined for a
trivial incident in the Trent Bridge Test and Virender
Sehwag too was punished for not turning round and
appealing to the umpire on the final day.
How then can one explain away Lara getting away with
cricket’s equivalent of blue murder in snatching the
ball away from umpire Rauf and acting like a bully on
the field? To then turn things around in his
post-match comments and allege the Indians were being
unsporting and also rubbish the umpires is really
rubbing salt in the wounds. Such actions and words
surely deserve a ban of at least one Test match.
For Doctrove to plead “moral and technical” reasons in
not giving a decision and for umpires Rauf and Taufel
to claim there is no visual evidence to nail
Lara— (millions watched his petulance live on TV) —is
nothing short of dereliction of duty on their part.
And Match Referee Jeff Crowe should be promptly
removed from the panel on the same grounds.
Ironically both the umpires in separate interviews to
an Indian TV news channel condemned Lara’'s actions. So
how come they did not press for punishment?
To hear Ian Bishop bleat on in defence of his former
captain and fellow-Trinidadian only proves that former
cricketers cannot take a detached view of such matters
in the way a professional journalist is capable of.
Most West Indian journalists on the other hand have
been severely critical of their captain'’s
Surprisingly, when Sehwag rushed to his teammates and
did not turn to appeal for the wicket on the final
day, —no doubt a mistake on his part, —commentator Dean
Jones was quick to bring it to the Match Referee'’s
notice on air.
Where was Jones'’ eagle eye then while Lara was
carrying on like a spoilt brat? Was this once brave
batsman scared of the public’s reaction if he attacked
Whatever one’s criticisms of the previous regime that
ran Indian cricket, one thing is for certain--neither
Sourav Ganguly nor Jagmohan Dalmiya would have allowed
Lara to go scot-free. Rahul Dravid should realize that
it does not pay to play the good guy in international