Thursday, May 20, 2010


South Africa began the second leg (it's a many-legged tour, this one) of their Carribbean tour yesterday, playing the first one of the two Twenty20 matches scheduled against the home side, the West Indies.

The match marked a return of international cricket to the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua... the ground that was in news for all the wrong reasons about a year back. But this time, there were no problems in the bowlers' run-up area or the pitch or anywhere on the ground... there was a problem only with the kind of cricket played.

West Indies team has been ordinary for quite a long time now... but I had no idea that their umpires even worse. After watching the performance of their umpires yesterday, I have almost started respecting Billy Doctrove ten times more. He is an international Elite panel umpire who has grown out of that system... with the likes of Clyde Duncan and Norman Malcolm for company and competition. Thank God that ICC follows a neutral umpire strategy in Test cricket... else, following Test cricket in West Indies would have been a nightmare! I was embarassed by their standard yesterday. If I were to explain to a non-follower why cricket is a good game to follow, yesterday's match would certainly not be the one I would choose for an example!

In 2008, the BCCI had a tie-up with Cricket Australia for training the umpires and prepare them for a spot on the Elite Panel. India, after all, has not had a representative on the Elite Panel ever since Srinivas Venkatraghavan retired in 2004. I think WICB needs a bit of the same to prevent dramas like the ones that happened yesterday.

(I know I haven't reported any of the embarassing umpiring decisions, but you can read many other accounts of the same floating over the internet for that purpose. I would recommend Luke Tagg's match report at The Boundary Rider.)

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