Saturday, September 30, 2006



In the end, everyone went home smiling. The wisecracks at the ICC were happy in the belief that they were able to diffuse the situation. The PCB felt ‘vindicated’ and decided not to appeal against the 4 match suspension slapped on Inzamam. The umpires, particularly, Darrell Hair, was not made a scapegoat. So it all makes a ‘win-win’ game.

But there is something larger than a few individuals that has taken a beating and one that will suffer even greatly in the future. It is the game of cricket. From now on, the umpires may not be really vigilant towards the condition of the ball. I am not in any way dropping hints that the Pakistan bowlers resorted to ball tampering in the Oval test. The whole thing has relegated the role of the umpire.

Umpiring and umpiring mistakes have been part of the glorious uncertainties that cricket is. If I remember correctly, Steve Bucknor refused to take the help of the 3rd umpire on India’s first tour to South Africa. The home team cashed in on this reprieve and went on to save the match. In the recent DLF Cup, every team got the benefit of the umpires’ largesse and every team felt robbed by the umpires at crucial moments. Does this make umpires biased and prejudiced? With neutral umpires, things have more or less evened out for all the teams.

It is not sporting to take recourse to questions of race and nationality whenever any decision goes against the team.

After all, George Orwell said many years ago that sport is war minus the shooting.

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