Live Coverage
  Live Scorecards
  Upcoming Matches
  World Cricket News
  USA Cricket News
  American Cricket History
Dreamcricket RSS
Law 42 exists, and must be used
by Suresh Menon
Feb 04, 2008
By Suresh Menon - Dreamcricket Special Columnist

Law 42 has been for some years cricket’s most contentious mainly because it has been observed only in the breach. Players and officials have often ignored it and thus abdicated their responsibility to the game.

The first para of the Law says “The responsibility lies with the captains for ensuring that play is conducted within the spirit and traditions of the game, as described in The Preamble - The Spirit of Cricket, as well as within the Laws.”

The second says, “The umpires shall be the sole judges of fair and unfair play. If either umpire considers an action, not covered by the Laws, to be unfair, he shall intervene without appeal and, if the ball is in play, shall call and signal Dead ball and implement the procedure as set out below.”

Clear enough, one would think. Captains uphold the spirit, and umpires decide what is fair and unfair. To use a recent example, Ricky Ponting should have ensured that his players, Andrew Symonds in particular, did not cross the line into bad behaviour in the Sydney Test. And umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson should have, metaphorically speaking, banged the players’ heads together when things started getting out of hand. Neither captain nor the umpires did their job, and an international incident followed.

Increasingly, with the advent of technology, the role of the umpire in cricket is being diminished. This is inevitable, even if the television commentators sometimes forget that the technology should serve the umpires and not the other way around. It is also useful to remember that Hawkeye, Snickometer and other gizmos are not foolproof. The evidence is suggestive, not conclusive.

But you don’t need a Behaviometer or a Blusingear (as these new gizmos could be called) to detect bad behaviour. Umpires must act swiftly and decisively to nip it in the bud. They don’t because they would like to leave it to the Match Referee, usually someone who is happy not to get involved himself. The result is a shirking of responsibility and more instances of bad behaviour.

And when you throw a toothless International Cricket Council into the mix, things merely become more complicated. Had the umpires intervened when Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds moved towards each other, that ugly scene could have been averted.

For this to happen, umpires must earn the respect of the players and the confidence of the ICC - both were in short supply in the series. The players were heartily sick of the incompetent umpiring, and the ICC was only too glad to toe India’s line.

Sportsmen are not saints, and no one expects them to be. For this reason, the ICC must choose the best umpires (regardless of nationality), and men of common sense as match referees. Whenever the judgement of the match referee has been called into question in recent times, the thread running through dodgy decisions has been a lack of common sense.

Having chosen such men, the ICC must then give them the powers to control the game. Tough but fair, Australia’s sporting motto must become the umpires’ guiding principle. The ICC’s Code of Conduct is clear, and lays out the hierarchy of transgressions and the punishments to follow. If the umpires do their job well, the ICC need not enter into it at all.

Law 42 exists, and must be used. The umpires must reclaim the authority they have allowed to pass to television commentators and match referees. Conduct of the match is their business. Occasionally, they will get it wrong. But if they wok with the captains at the start of the match, and make things clear, much of the bad behaviour on field can be controlled.

More Views by Suresh Menon
  Shots that changed cricket
  Rain interruptions - poor scheduling and lack of preparedness
  Cricketers and depression
  Retiring reluctantly
  Cricket wins in Supreme Court vs BCCI match-up
Write to us to find out how your club or league can get the benefits of being an affiliate of the DreamCricket League platform.

DreamCricket.com runs an Academy that is an affiliate of the USA Cricket Association (USACA).
  About Us  |   Dreamcricket in the Media  |   Event Management  |   Disclaimer © 2014 DreamCricket.com