Umpires and cricket.

Over the preceding 5 days, Australia played India in a cricket match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and while Australia won, the best summary I've seen of the 2nd test match is:

Caught Benson, Bowled Bucknor

Who are Benson and Bucknor? The two umpires appointed to adjudicate on decisions throughout the match. The umpires are appointed for the match by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and are from the countries of England and Jamaica respectively.

It is a great shame for any sport when the actions of the umpires and the decisions they make overshadow the talent and endevours of the players on the field. In Australia, football umpires are often lovingly referred to as White maggots. It appears we need to come up with an appropriate term for cricket umpires too.

As is often the case in life, people are prone to speculate about what if. The only conclusion that can be safely drawn, on reflection, is that if any particular decision is/was made is changed then everything that follows must be different. You cannot change individual events in life and expect all the others to be as they were. The joining together of events in space and time is known as the Butterfly Effect, about which a movie was made in 2004. If you haven't seen this movie, I'd recommend making the time to do so. Stop worrying about the past and focus on the present and future.


It does not matter whether the umpire is a Jamaican or South African or English. Bad umpiring is just bad. Neutral umpiring does not always guarantee good umpiring - may be Steve Waugh has a point here. It is natural that there will be human errors in umpiring. But, the problem is about the consistency of errors and the manner in which errors occur. Buckner refused to call the third umpire for a stumping appeal - he had refused to call the third umpire in many instances in the past as well -- mostly the Indians were in the receiving end. Mark Benson clearly asks Ricky ponting about the catch (Ganguly). He should have referred to the third umpire or should have asked the leg umpire if he had any doubt (but as luck would have it, even the third umpire made a mistake in this match!). Instead, he chose to refer to the captain of the appealing team! Why should he take the word from him? How about asking the batsman whether he was out or not?! And yes, you right right about changing a specific event in life. It is just that it may not be enough to convince those who feel the pain of bad umpiring. BTW, nice to meet a cricket fan via blog :-)

Posted by A. Sundararajan on January 06, 2008 at 05:05 PM PST #

The referal of the decision about a catch to Ponting is jaw droppingly poor. I couldn't believe it. Players should not be involved in decisions about whether someone is in or out - and nor should they comment about them (as did Symonds) during a match. Idiocy seems to be in plentiful supply in Sydney - maybe they all shared the same drink on New Years Eve? ;) But then what do you do in cases like Ponting's earlier "no I didn't catch it"? Perhaps the correct call there is for players to withdraw the appeal, rather than to say "no, he's not out." It might seem strange to say "we withdraw the appeal" rather than to say "he's not out" but ugh...

I wonder if age is a factor in the umpiring here? By this I mean both of the umpires in that match were quite senior and perhaps in their more senior years they wish to be seen as more capable (rather than less capable) and thus less inclined to call for the 3rd umpire? Maybe there should also be an ear wax check before they walk out to the middle too!

As for cricket fan, yes... I walked down to the Junction oval to watch an hour of play on Thursday, before the rain set in and caught the end of two days play at the MCG after work :)

Posted by Darren on January 06, 2008 at 10:42 PM PST #

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