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Punish the erring umpire!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jan 04, 2008
The Indians have every right to be aggrieved over the appalling standard of umpiring in the ongoing Sydney Test that could still cost them the Test and the series.

To think that India could well have been on the verge of an innings victory if both Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds had been given out first time by the umpires instead of getting reprieves! It is galling in the extreme and a grave injustice and it is to the great credit of the team that they have swallowed the bitter pill and gone on to take the first-innings lead despite feeling so frustrated inside.

While the ICC is busy wrestling with the colour of the ball to be used in case of day/night Test matches and other such ridiculous tampering with the basics of the game, incompetent officiating is wrecking cricket.

It is bad enough that the showpiece final of the World Cup in the West Indies last year was ruined by the collective stupidity of the match officials. But to allow serial offenders like umpire Steve Bucknor to continue in their posts despite having such a shoddy record is an insult to cricketers and cricket fans alike. Now for the ICC to consider using the captain’s appeal process as it is in tennis and American gridiron football is akin to bolting the stable door after the horse has fled, at least for the touring side.

Indians with long memories will recall that Bucknor lost us a series as far back as 1992 when he refused to refer to the third umpire when Jonty Rhodes was run out when India toured South Africa for the first time.

That was the series in which TV replays were introduced for the first time and Bucknor could perhaps have been forgiven back then. But what was his excuse in repeating his bull-headed blunder on the second day when Symonds was clearly stumped on 148?

Just as the ICC banned the whole set of World Cup final officials from the subsequent T-20 World Cup in South Africa, they must surely introduce a penalties system for umpires who do not follow the basic rules and tenets.

What I find completely baffling was a batsman being recalled after the third umpire informed the on-field umpire of his error, as happened to Kevin Pietersen against India last summer. But when a batsman is wrongly given not out, the third umpire stays mum!

No wonder bowlers are convinced the game is tilting more and more against them. The more one-sided it becomes and the more the balance of power is allowed to shift so much in the batsman’s favour (such as drastically shortening the boundaries), the more the flavour of a fair contest will be lost. And if that were to happen, cricket would lose its charm and appeal.

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