923 - 2 April [4495-4497]
• Crowe set for 50th Test as a match referee (923-4495).
• South African captain reported 'comfortable' with UDRS (923-4496).
• Umpire forced to separate players after 'heated exchange' (923-4497).
924 - 3 April [4498-4500]
• Nepalese umpire to officiate in county matches (924-4498).
• Match fix organisers use tactics similar to paedophiles, says tutorial (924-4499).
• Batsman cited for on-field confrontation (924-4500).
925 - 7 April [4501-4506]
• Switch-hit technique attracts 'time-wasting' warnings (925-4501).
• Day-night Tests need 'leap of faith' by administrators, says MCC official (925-4502).
• Excessive appealing leads to fine (925-4503).
• IPL officials asked to 'strictly apply' 'suspect action' rules (925-4504).
• Umpires to wear daffodils in support of cancer research initiatives (925-4505).
• Convicted 'spot fixer' appears in ICC anti-corruption video (925-4506).
926 - 11 April [4507-4510]
• 'Aggressive' on-field dispute with umpires leads to fine, reprimands (926-4507).
• Umpire attacked, seriously injured, after boundary dispute (926-4508).
• Curators gather for international workshop (926-4509).
• Former county player to face spot-fixing related hearing (926-4510).
927 - 12 April [4511-4512]
• Four match officials make their IPL debuts (927-4511).
• International cricket 'stands at a precipice', says 'Wisden' Editor (927-4512).
928 - 16 April [4513-4516]
• Neutral officials for Bangladesh visit to Lahore? (928-4513).
• IPL bowler reported for suspect action (928-4514).
• Consistent UDRS packages, neutral umpires, needed, says Dar (928-4515).
• ICC to consider Curator's workshop recommendations (928-4516).
929 - 17 April [4517-4522]
• Association ditches two-day split-innings format (929-4517).
• First women wins Wellington 'Umpire of the Year' award (929-4518).
• One or two Aussie NUP contracts up for grabs? (928-4519).
• Floodlights now allowed in County first class fixtures (929-4520).
• Other IPL bowlers actions 'worse than Samuels', says his skipper (929-4521).
930 - 19 April [4523-4527]
• Limit to bat thickness would improve safety and the game, says seasoned journalist (930-4523).
• UDRS unavailability stops play (930-4524).
• Umpire 'not out' aged 91 after a 61 year innings (930-4525).
• Relief for pitches in East Anglia as 'hosepipe ban' is lifted (930-4526).
• ICC still awaiting security plan for Bangladesh visit to Lahore (930-4527).
931 - 22 April [4528-4531]
• West Indies coach fined for 'inappropriate' UDRS remarks (931-4528).
• WCC Chairman goes into bat for day-night Tests (931-4529).
• CA 'recruitment and retention' push appears stalled (930-4530).
• Bangladesh court order sees postponement of proposed Pakistan tour (930-4531).
932 - 26 April [4532-4536]
• Umpires need helmets for protection, says Gayle (932-4532).
• Governance changes, record profit, for CA (932-4533).
• First class debuts for ECB trio (932-4534).
• Aussie umpire managers set for post-season meeting (932-4535).
• Ramprakash again fined for umpire abuse (932-4536).
PLAYING THE GAME
Monday, 2 April 2012
CROWE SET FOR 50TH TEST
AS A MATCH REFEREE
Jeff Crowe of New Zealand will be looking after his fiftieth Test as a match referee in the first of the three Tests the West Indies and Australia are to play in the Caribbean this month. Crowe will oversee the work of umpires Ian Gould of England, Marais Erasmus of South Africa and fellow Kiwi Tony Hill, in the games in Barbados, Trinidad and Dominica over the next four weeks; the first of which is due to get underway this Saturday.
Crowe will have added 52 Tests as a match referee to the 39 he played in by the time the series ends, while Hill's tally in Tests will have moved on to 30 on the field and 17 in the television suite (30/17), Gould to 27/10 and Erasmus, who will work in a Test in the West Indies for the first time, to 11/12. Each umpire will be on the field in two matches and work as the third umpire in another; the on-field pairings being Gould-Hill for match one, Gould-Erasmus match two and Hill-Erasmus match three.
While the South African will be making his Test debut in the West Indies, Crowe has worked as a Test official there on 11 previous occasions, Hill 5 times, including a match that was abandoned after just 10 deliveries (PTG 372- 1984, 14 February 2009), and Gould twice; although all four men have previously supported the playing of One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals in the Caribbean.
SOUTH AFRICAN CAPTAIN REPORTED
'COMFORTABLE' WITH UDRS
South African captain Graeme Smith is said to be comfortable with television referrals and the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) playing a larger role in international cricket. South Africa's recent Test series in New Zealand was marred by criticism of the UDRS as its ball-tracking, 'Hot Spot' and 'Snicko' components came up with results that were seemingly at odds with what was seen live, and at one stage one of the companies who supply that technology threatened to withdraw it from the series (PTG 915-4453, 15 March 2012)
Smith told a news conference in Johannesburg last week that he "did read a report that there were issues with the set-up of the cameras, which obviously isn't ideal, and there has been a lot of skepticism about the last bit of the ball-tracking". However, in his view "UDRS has become an integral part of the game, it's great for the fans and I can't imagine playing without it". Smith says that the system "was designed to take away the shocking decision and it's done that [and] I'd like to see it play a prominent part in international cricket".
UMPIRE FORCED TO SEPARATE PLAYERS
AFTER 'HEATED EXCHANGE'
New Zealand's Jesse Ryder might have a suspension waiting for him when he returns to the country after duty with the Indian Premier League's Pune franchise in late May, say reports from Wellington yesterday. Ryder is said to have had a heated exchange with his Wellington first class team mate Harry Boam during a club match on Saturday, after which the pair had to be separated out on the ground by umpire Stu Bullen.
Ryder was batting when Boam allegedly criticised him for being available for club duty despite not wanting to appear for Wellington in recent weeks. Bullen is reported to have said that he had to physically restrain Ryder "because he was getting quite aggressive" and he is said to have remained "very agitated" and was bowled by Boam soon after. The altercation is expected to feature prominently in Bullen's match report, which is to be submitted to Cricket Wellington (CW) today, and from there, it will be up to CW to decide if the matter warrants a Code of Conduct hearing, says a Fairfax news report this morning.
Boam reportedly apologised to Ryder shortly after the incident and was said to be reluctant to discuss the situation yesterday. "I'm not sure how it's going to come off and it wasn't meant to get under his skin. But it just turned out the way it did, unfortunately", said Boam. "I think it's between me and him and that's it, really".
Aaron Klee, Ryder's manager, is said to be unconcerned about the matter. "I was aware that Boam chipped him and Jesse reacted, [then] he got out and he walked off and there was nothing else to it", said Klee, who stated he had "no interest in it, really [as he's] got other things to worry about other than a petty little incident on a club cricket ground". Ryder left for India yesterday, where Klee, along with a clinical psychologist, will be part of his off-field entourage, say media reports.
CW chief executive Peter Clinton said he was not "across" what had allegedly taken place however it was not his preference to have [two Wellington representative] players at loggerheads. "You want team-mates to play hard but fair when they play against each other, and I would think, as professional cricketers, they'd know exactly how to do that", Clinton said.
Reports say that CW had resisted the urge to pick Ryder for his "own good" in the time since New Zealand Cricket released him from its national squad last month for breaking the team's protocol around the consumption of alcohol whilst he was injured. "We listened to the professional advice and talked to him and his manager and it was pretty clear to us that he needed some time away from the game and wasn't fit for first-class cricket, as such", Clinton said, who apparently was not aware that Ryder was going to be playing club cricket.
Should what happened while Ryder was on club duty merit a hearing it's unlikely one would be held while he is in India, says a Fairfax New Zealand report. Given the incident occurred in Wellington club cricket any ban he might be handed as a result of the on-field exchange would be served in that competition, say reports.
PLAYING THE GAME
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
NEPALESE UMPIRE TO OFFICIATE
IN COUNTY MATCHES
Nepalese umpire Buddhi Pradhan is to stand in six county Second XI fixtures during a three-week visit to England in June-July. During his sojourn there Prahdan, a long-term member of the International Cricket Council's third-tier Associate and Affiliate Umpire Panel (AAUP), will officiate in three one-day Second XI 'Trophy' and three three-day 'Championship' matches, one of each in Essex, Hampshire and Worcestershire.
Prahdan said yesterday that English first class umpire Rob Bailey, who he met in Bangladesh last November during the Women’s World Cup Qualifier series, "was impressed with my umpiring and [suggested I] write to England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) [asking] to officiate in their first class cricket". “I wrote to [ECB Umpire Manager] Chris Kelly and he asked me to consult the International Cricket Council (ICC)", who agreed to provide support, and Kelly has now written to Cricket Nepal saying the ECB is "delighted to extend an invitation" to Pradhan, say press reports.
The Nepalese is arguably the most experienced member of the AAUP, so far having stood in 11 first class and 18 One Day Internationals across five countries in Africa, Europe and the middle East. His most recent international appointment was to the final of the World Twenty20 Cup qualifier series in the United Arab Emirates late last month (PTG 921-4485, 26 March 2012). News reports from Nepal overnight say that the ECB will make "all the arrangements for [Prahdan's] stay in England" while the ICC is funding his air-fare.
MATCH FIX ORGANISERS USE TACTICS
SIMILAR TO PAEDOPHILES, SAYS TUTORIAL
Those who try to engage players in match fixing activities use similar tactics to paedophiles, says an on-line multiple choice tutorial developed by the UK Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA). In February the PCA asked every professional player in the UK to undertake the tutorial as part of attempts to stamp out corruption in the game (PTG 907-4410, 28 February 2012), and the course, which takes around 30 minutes to complete, suggests the seriousness in which the corruption issue is being treated by cricket bodies in the UK (PTG 908-4418, 3 March 2012).
The tutorial starts with an introduction outlining three crimes: fixing, releasing sensitive information and gambling on cricket matches, followed by the punishments involved which range from a six-month suspension to a life ban. It is split into three modules with 12 multiple choice questions in total, there is no pass mark and all players receive a certificate for finishing the course, which is now mandatory. The course puts particular emphasis on the methods exploited by fixers to gather information via Facebook and Twitter as well as the use of 'entrapment', a method that is described as "your classic ’mafia’ type" approach.
Journalist Nick Hoult of London's 'Daily Telegraph' writes that one example of the multiple choice questions runs as follows: “You are introduced by a long time club member and fan who is well known to you to a guy who might be interested in doing a personal sponsorship deal with you. He comes across as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable fan who believes you’re going to be the next big thing. What is the correct response to his overtures of friendship and support?”
There are four possible answers for those undertaking the tutorial: a) Tell him you’re not interested in support or in acquiring new friends; b) Be cautiously welcoming, get his business card and contact details and then check the guy out thoroughly before further contact; c) Start discussing the proposed sponsorship and negotiating the deal; and d) Report the meeting as an approach to your team management. Unsurprisingly 'b' is the answer required.
Hoult writes that the language used in the course is pointed, one section running: "there are great similarities between the activities of fixers in corrupt gambling and the activities of paedophiles [for] in both cases ’grooming’ " is involved. He says that is typical of the tone used in tutorial which is being taken by 300 professional cricketers in England as the main training tool for educating and preventing today’s players travelling the same path to jail as former Essex fast bowler Mervyn Westfield. He was jailed in February for admitting to accepting or obtaining a corrupt payment to aid spot betting on a county match almost three years ago (PTG 903-4387, 20 February 2012).
BATSMAN CITED FOR
New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder has been reported for an altercation with a rival player in a match last Saturday and the matter has now been passed on to a disciplinary commissioner for consideration, say reports from Wellington this morning (PTG 923-4497, 2 April 2012). Ryder had to be restrained by an umpire while batting for his club in Cricket Wellington's grade competition and there are indications that he may have been charged with "unacceptable behaviour" by umpires Stu Bullen and Jeremy Busby.
Press reports indicate that the disciplinary hearing will be held sometime next week, however, Ryder will not be in attendance as he left for India yesterday, a day later than originally scheduled, to join the Pune franchise in this year's Indian Premier League competition. While he will not have to be present at the hearing, Ryder will need to submit evidence in some form, say the reports. Bullen and Busby are apparently not the only ones to report Ryder, the skipper of the opposing side doing so as well, plus his captain who was at the non-striker's end when the incident occurred, although just what his actions were at that time are not clear.
PLAYING THE GAME
Saturday, 7 2012
'SWITCH-HIT' TECHNIQUE ATTRACTS
England batsman Kevin Pietersen was twice warned for time-wasting after he changed his stance too early in attempts to play a "switch-hit' shot during his side's second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Thursday. Pietersen was spoken to by umpires Bruce Oxenford of Australia and Asad Rauf of Pakistan after bowler Tillakaratne Dilshan twice pulled out of delivering the ball after the England player started to change his grip, and a third such 'wasting-time' offence would have cost his side 5 penalty runs.
Pietersen first played the shot in a One Day International against New Zealand four years ago 258-1402, 17 June 2008), a move that resulted in considerable debate as to its legality. Critics pointed to the requirement in the Laws of Cricket that a bowler has to inform the umpire and batsman if he wants to deliver the ball in a different fashion, but the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), as the guardians of the Laws, later approved the shot. At the time the MCC called the stroke "exciting for the game of cricket" and that it "conforms to the Laws and will not be legislated against" (PTG 259-1409, 18 June 2008).
Some 18 months later, after Australian batsman David Warner made a similar shot in Twenty20 International against the West Indies in Sydney (E-News 576-2912, 25 February 2010), the International Cricket Council (ICC) issued an "interim directive" about what was and wasn't allowed (PTG 577-2914, 27 February 2010), confirming the content of that directive as a playing condition later that year (PTG 610-3062, 24 May 2010).
That ICC policy allows a bowler who sees a batsman change his grip or stance prior to reaching his delivery stride not to bowl the ball. Should the bowler in an international take that option the umpire at the crease is required to issue "an informal warning" to the batsman on the grounds of time wasting, a second such incident resulting in a formal warning, and a third five penalty runs to the fielding side. Oxenford and Rauf followed that directive in dealing with Pietersen's tactic in Colombo.
Pietersen played down the incident, telling journalists after play on Thursday that "I just got my timing wrong", the umpires saying that "I moved my hands a bit too quick". "I don't understand the rules, it's something I found out today, mid-innings, at a pretty unfortunate time", he continued, and "I've just got to switch my hands a little later, which I didn't know. You learn something new every day".
Oxenford, who was at square leg when the warnings were given to Pietersen, told Sky Sports on Thursday evening that "the ICC think switch-hitting is an excellent innovation" and is not trying to discourage such strokes. However, he continued, "when the bowler sees intent on the part of the batsman prior to delivering the ball and stops, we can get a stalemate situation [for] the bowler won't deliver because he wants to change his field if he thinks the batsman is going to switch-hit". If that occurs umpires are required give the batsman and batting side as a whole an informal warning, then a formal one for time-wasting, after which another such occurrence attracts an automatic five-run penalty".
The ball after Pietersen received his final warning again saw him play the reverse-sweep, this time in an approved manner, bringing up his hundred with what many consider an audacious shot.
DAY-NIGHT TESTS NEED 'LEAP OF FAITH'
BY ADMINISTRATORS, SAYS MCC OFFICIAL
Play in last week's day-night county season opener in Abu Dhabi has shown that good progress has been made with the development of a pink ball that could be used in day-night Test matches, says the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). John Stephenson, the MCC's Head of Cricket, was quoted by journalists during the match as saying that if the game's administrators are willing to "take a leap of faith" a Test played under such conditions "may not be too far away", but at the same time he acknowledged that problems were again experienced in seeing the latest balls during the twilight period between full daylight and when the lights taking effect, and that further trials around the world are needed.
Stephenson is said in a story posted on the MCC's web site to be "delighted" with the Kookuburra company's 'Generation 5' pink balls used for the Abu Dhabi match between an MCC XI and last year's county champion Lancashire. "We got a lot out of the match [and] you can definitely" see "how the ball has developed over the last three years", he says, the colour of the new model's seam making it easier to see and the players "loved" it. He also indicated that the balls proved to be "very durable" during the four innings of the match which ran for 76, 77, 40 and 41 overs respectively.
However, match reports indicate that it was the twilight period on the second day of the match that proved to be crucial in determining its outcome. The MCC XI, who had a acquired first-innings lead of 67, lost their last eight wickets in their second-innings wickets for just 28 runs during that period and were bowled out for just 84. Stephenson said in a MCC statement that "I think we’ve got to think about the twilight period, because if it really shifts the balance of the game and compromises the integrity of the game then obviously we’ve got to address that issue". Such issues have been raised in previous trials, but Stephenson says that the twilight situation adds another "nuance" to the game and an interest to the match and players are working out tactically how to negotiate that period".
Lancashire coach Peter Moores and captain Glen Chapple were not quite so positive as Stephenson though. Chapple thinks "it's probably too early to say whether the experiment will work or not", Moores adding "you could do with a better pink ball, one that behaves more like the red one". He doesn't "know whether that's possible" and thinks" there's work to be done because I didn't find it easy to see [the ball] from a spectating point of view". "I can see the merits of playing at this time of day in countries where they don't get good crowds", he continued, "but we're lucky in England because we sell out our Test matches [but] credit to the MCC for driving [the day-night issue] forward".
It was the third year in succession that the opening county fixture has been played in a day-night format in the middle east. In addition to Abu Dhabi, around a dozen first class matches across England, Pakistan and the West Indies have been played as day-nighters over the last three years, however, no games at that level have been played during that time in the other Test playing nations, Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe.
Stephenson's enthusiasm is not new and there have been a number of attempts to get a day-night Test off the ground over the last few years. The first was a push for such a fixture between England and Bangladesh at Lord's in May 2010 (PTG 399-2118, 30 March 2009). In June 2009 though the MCC said that it was unlikely a day-night Test would be played in 2010 as a suitable ball had still not been developed (PTG 442-2301, 28 June 2009), but that didn't stop the club's World Cricket Committee (WCC) calling, shortly after, for a day-night Test "within a year" (PTG 457-2375, 16 July 2009), however, the Lord's venture was eventually called off (PTG 501-2589, 2 October 2009).
In December 2009 the then ICC President, Englishman David Morgan, said he would be "surprised and disappointed" is a day-night Test was not played "within the next two years" (PTG 535-2742, 19 December 2009), and two months after that the ICC announced that it planned to conduct "urgent product research" on day-night Tests (PTG 572-2896, 19 February 2010), then to be "more proactive" with regard to such fixtures (PTG 610-3061, 24 May 2010).
In July 2010 the WCC said that day-night Tests could be played "now" (PTG 629-3138, 4 July 2010), then 9 months later ICC general manager cricket, David Richardson, said that his organisation hoped to announce dates and venues for the first day-night Test matches, which would be conducted as "trials", sometime in 2012 (PTG 762-3742, 12 May 2011). English ball manufacturer 'Duke' 'Duke' urged administrators to make a decision on day-night Test matches in June last year (PTG 775-3793, 16 June 2011), and shortly after the WCC reiterated its "now" call of the previous year (PTG 801-3918, 20 July 2011).
In September 2011 the MCC's Stephenson suggested that the first day-night Test could be played in Hamilton, New Zealand, in January 2012 (PTG 827-4044, 8 September 2011), but that did not eventuate (PTG 842-4117, 6 October 2011). In October Richardson indicated that the earliest date a day-night Test could be played had slipped into 2013 (PTG 845-4131, 12 October 2011).
LEADS TO FINE
Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan was fined 10 per cent of his match fee yesterday after being found guilty of "excessive appealing" during England's first innings in the Test match currently being played in Colombo. After delivering the ball in the 89th over, Dilshan ran towards the striker's end celebrating a dismissal before the decision had been given, and when he reached the other end he turned around and appealed repeatedly.
The Level 1 charge was laid by on-field umpires Asad Rauf of Pakistan and Bruce Oxenford of Australia, third umpire Rod Tucker, another Australian, and fourth official Ranmore Martinesz of Srti Lanka. Match referee Javagal Srinath said in a statement issued by the International Cricket Council (ICC) that "Dilshan accepted the charge and the penalty imposed without qualms and so there was no need for a formal hearing".
Under ICC regulations excessive appealing includes repeated appeals with regard to the same decision, or celebrating a dismissal before the decision has been given.
IPL OFFICIALS ASKED TO 'STRICTLY
APPLY' 'SUSPECT ACTION' RULES
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has asked the umpires who are standing in this year's series and the match referees who oversee its games to "strictly apply" the relevant Laws when it comes to bowlers who they deem, through "naked eye observations", to have illegal actions, say media reports from Mumbai this week. The IPL is said to have "circulated a list" of Indian players who have been on the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BBCI) domestic 'suspect action list' over the last 12 months and have not been appropriately cleared, to all of its match officials and the relevant IPL franchisees.
The BCCI's 'Suspect Action Policy', which came into force in February, defines naked eye viewing as "either live or on television at normal speed" and that "slow motion video footage or other technological support should only be used to confirm initial suspicions". It goes on to say that as per Law 42.3, "a third ['no ball'] call against a bowler in the same innings by either umpire for [his delivery action] will debar him from bowling again in the innings".
Following a review of video shot as part of the BCCI's move to improve umpiring standards during the BCCI's 2007-08 Ranji Trophy first class competition, 13 bowlers were deemed to have suspect actions (PTG 193-1054, 8 February 2008). A four-day "analysis and rehabilitation" program for 20 Indian bowlers found to have doubtful actions was conducted as a result (PTG 250-1372, 2 June 2008), however, two bowlers were reported during the IPL's series in 2009 for their actions (PTG 419-2217, 8 May 2009).
Prior to the 2009-10 domestic season the BCCI made it mandatory, as it has again this year for the IPL, for its umpires to 'call' bowlers they judge to have suspect actions on the field of play (PTG 481-2495, 28 August 2009), also issuing a list of players thought to have actions needing particular scrutiny to all its match officials (PTG 520-2677, 10 November 2009). That so-called "zero tolerance" approach resulted in "around 130 bowlers" in Indian domestic first class, Under-22 and Under-19 competitions that season being reported (PTG 614-3079, 31 May 2010). During the recently completed 2011-12 domestic season suspect action reports continued, although at a lower level than previously (PTG 860-4200, 15 November 2011).
UMPIRES TO WEAR DAFFODILS IN SUPPORT
OF CANCER RESEARCH INITIATIVES
Umpires standing in four Northern Premier and Westmorland Cricket leagues in England are to wear daffodils when the season gets under way there later this month. The move by officials across Cumbria is in support the Marie Curie Cancer Fund and an effort to raise awareness of cancer. Stewart Hulse, secretary for the Cumbria Association of Cricket Officials, told local media outlets that "we decided to show our support and make a visual awareness of this dreadful disease to all who follow cricket, both on and off the field". "In some little way we hope that other people will follow us in supporting cancer charities in general", said Hulse.
CONVICTED 'SPOT FIXER' FEATURES
IN ICC ANTI-CORRUPTION VIDEO
Mohammad Amir, the Pakistan fast-bowler banned from competitive cricket for five years for his part in the spot-fixing scandal during a Test at Lord's in 2010 (PTG 726-3574, 14 February 2011), has appeared in an educational video developed as part of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) anti-corruption initiative. The video, which runs for five minutes, features Amir talking about his life since being found guilty of abetting match fixers and he says he bowled the no-balls at Lord's because "some senior players put me under pressure".
Last month ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat suggested that Amir could feature in videos to point out the perils of corruption as part of a program to educate young cricketers. In a parallel move, the UK's Professional Cricketer's Association (PCA) has developed an on-line multiple choice tutorial on corruption in the game as part of attempts to educate its members, which amongst other issues talks about the type of pressure Amir says he experienced. Every professional player in England is now is required to 'sit' the 30 minute long PCA course (PTG 924-4499, 3 April 2012).
PLAYING THE GAME
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
'AGGRESSIVE' ON-FIELD DISPUTE WITH
UMPIRES LEADS TO FINE, REPRIMANDS
Munaf Patel from the Indian Premier League's (IPL) Mumbai franchise has been fined 25 per cent of his match fee and given an official warning and reprimand for "showing dissent at an umpires decision" during the Twenty20 match against the Deccan side in Vishakhapatnam on Monday night. Mumbai captain Harbhajan Singh received an official warning and reprimand as a result of the same incident from match referee Graeme La Brooy of Sri Lanka, while Deccan's Dale Steyn received an official warning and reprimand for a 'send off' later in the match.
The sanctions handed to Harbhajan and Munaf revolved around a ball the latter delivered to Deccan batsman Kumar Sangakkara who dragged it onto his stumps dislodging the bails. Immediately after that the ball hit the wickets a second time when it bounced back off Mumbai wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik's pads and on-field umpires Anil Chowdhury of India and Johan Cloete from South Africa, the latter who was at square leg, judged that the ball had hit the wickets via Karthik and that with the batsman inside his crease he was 'not out',
Deccan captain Harbhajan Singh immediately started "arguing with the umpires in an aggressive manner" say reports, his point apparently being that given the situation they should have referred the decision to the third umpire Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka for assessment, for he and Munaf believed Sangakkara had been bowled. Munaf is said to have joined his captain in "an increasingly heated argument" that went on for close to five minutes and saw Munaf point his finger at Chowdhury, after which the issue was referred to Dharmasena who gave Sangakkara out 'bowled'.
Indian press reports criticised both players for their actions, some suggesting that the pair got off lightly. One journalist wrote that Harbhajan and Munaf bullied the umpires, which is "something they don't have the right to do". "A polite but firm request may have been enough to deliver the point, however, Harbhajan charging towards the umpire and Munaf pointing fingers were acts that brought the game into disrepute", said another. "With such displays Harbhajan is tarnishing and spoiling his reputation and Munaf too is a senior Team India player and his involvement in the incident doesn’t set the right example for the youngsters", wrote journalist Nishad Pai Vaidya.
Steyn's warning and reprimand came when he "gestured towards the pavilion" after he caught and bowled Tirumalasetti Suman in the second over of Mumbai's innings. In other IPL disciplinary decisions this week, Harmeet Singh Bansal from the Punjab team received an official warning and reprimand after bowling two high full pitched balls in the 19th over of the Pune side's innings in Pune on Sunday. Pune's Sourav Ganguly was given the same sanction after that match for "a breach of [IPL] Clothing Regulations".
UMPIRE ATTACKED, SERIOUSLY
INJURED, AFTER BOUNDARY DISPUTE
An umpire in Maharashtra state in India, suffered serious injuries after he was attacked by spectators over an on-field controversy during a match on Sunday that was organised by a local sports association. A 'Mumbai Mirror' report yesterday say that Paresh Raut, 24, was "smashed over the head with stumps and then punched and kicked in the ribs and stomach" as a result a dispute over a boundary.
As there were no boundary lines at the ground it was agreed prior to the match getting underway that the umpires would be the judge as to whether a ball hit deep into the field was a four or six. The trouble that led to the assault on Raut is said to have began when he signalled a six, however, the fielding side insisted instead that it was a four. After a brief argument Raut reportedly reversed his decision and signalled a four, a decision that in turn is said to have "annoyed the batsmen".
While Raut was talking to the batsmen, "at least 10 spectators" aligned with the batting side "rushed on to the ground, and accused him of favouring the fielding side". According to the 'Mirror' "things [then] turned ugly when Raut was shoved around; and in no time, he was set upon by the mob". As the umpire "collapsed on the ground, blood gushing out of his head, the mob broke up", says the report, then players from both the sides rushed him to hospital where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in a serious condition.
The incident is said to have happened next door to a Police station. An Inspector from the station is quoted by the 'Mirror' as saying that as yet they have been unable to obtain a statement from Raut, but "we have leads regarding the suspects' whereabouts, and they will be nabbed soon".
CURATORS GATHER FOR
The first-ever international workshop for curators, which is to be held in Dubai today and tomorrow, is to cover "a wide range of issues involved in pitch preparation", says the International Cricket Council (ICC). Head curators and turf managers from all Test playing nations and others from the top second-tier countries are to take part in sessions whose aim is to contribute to ensuring pitches and outfields provided for international cricket around the world are of the highest standard possible.
Plans for the workshop, which is to be led by long-serving England-born ICC Pitch and Field Consultant Andy Atkinson, were developed during discussions at recent ICC Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) meetings. Last month's CEC meeting noted a "marked improvement" in the quality of pitches around the world, a move the ICC says "has led to exciting battles between bat and ball in Test match cricket". "Only 10 per cent of Test matches in 2011 ended in a draw as compared to 38 per cent in 2010", says an ICC press release.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said yesterday that "curators and groundsmen around the world deserve credit for preparing outstanding pitches which have produced thrilling Test match cricket in recent times". He expects the workshop, which brings together personnel who have to cope with a wide range of environmental conditions and soils in their curatorial work, "to provide the right platform to share experiences and build skills as we seek to continuously improve and to provide world class environments".
FORMER COUNTY PLAYER TO FACE
'SPOT FIXING' RELATED HEARING
Former Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria has called on the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to postpone a disciplinary hearing into corruption charges so that his lawyer has more time to prepare his defence. Late last week Kaneria, who took 261 wickets in 61 Tests for his country, was summoned by the ECB to a spot-fixing related hearing after being named in a London court earlier this year as a go-between in a county match scandal that resulted in a four-month prison sentence for his former Essex team mate Mervyn Westfield (PTG 903-4387, 20 February 2012).
Kaneria was arrested along with Westfield in 2010 on suspicion of spot-fixing charge but was released from his bail without charge (PTG 665-3277, 9 September 2010). His contract with Essex was terminated that year and he has not played for Pakistan since the scandal came to light, appearing several times before the Pakistan cricket Board's integrity committee. His lawyer told journalists yesterday that his "client has pleaded not guilty to all charges and also believes no sanctions should be imposed on him [and] we have asked the ECB [for until 1 May] to file a detailed reply with [them] as we need more time to study the evidence".
Westfield, who has also been summoned to the ECB disciplinary hearing with Kaneria, was the first English county cricketer to be convicted in court for spot-fixing. He pleaded guilty to taking £6,000 ($A9,000) to bowl so that a specific number of runs were scored in the first over of a 40-over one-day match between Durham and Essex in September 2009 (PTG 887-4328, 15 January 2012).
PLAYING THE GAME
Thursday, 12 April 2012
FOUR MATCH OFFICIALS
MAKE THEIR IPL DEBUTS
Four of the 19 officials who have looked after matches in this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) to date are working in the competition for the first time, while two others who have served as fourth umpires in previous series have been elevated to on-field roles. The IPL debutants include match referees Rajan Madugalle of Sri Lanka and Rajendra Jadeja of India, and umpires Bruce Oxenford of Australia and Anil Chowdhury of India, while former reserve umpires Johannes Cloete of South Africa and Vineet Kulkarni of India are this year working in on-field and third umpire capacities.
The 19 officials used during the first dozen games of the 76-match 2012 series come from six nations, Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka, 15 of them being members from International Cricket Council (ICC) umpire and match referee panels, the other four being members of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's first class panels. ICC Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) members involved are 'Billy' Bowden of New Zealand, Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka, Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf of Pakistan, and Australians Simon Taufel and Rod Tucker; while Madugalle and Javagal Srinath come from the ICC's top referee's panel.
Match referee Graeme Labrooy of Sri Lanka is a member of the ICC's second-tier Regional Referees' Panel, while the umpires from the world body's second-tier International Umpires Panel are Cloete, Oxenford and Indians Kulkarni, Sudhir Asnani, S Ravi and Shavir Tarapore. The four match officials who come from India's domestic scene are referees Jadeja and Satayabrata Mukherjee, both of who are former first class players there, and the umpires Subroto Das, another former first class player, and Anil Chowdhury.
Srinath is so far the only official who has now worked in all five IPL events since the first in 2008, having been a referee in 42 matches, one of them a final, prior to this year's competition getting underway. For Asnani, Dharmasena, Ravi, Tarapore and Taufel its their fourth IPL, Bowden, Dar and Rauf their third, and Das and Tucker their second; although Tarapore was also a member of the reserve or fourth umpire group in the first series in 2008. Cloete and Kulkarni have also each served in that capacity in a previous IPL event.
Apart from Srinath's 42 games prior to the 2012 event starting last week, Dharmasena has worked in 38, 26 on the field and 12 in the television suite (26-12), Taufel 36 (30-6), Ravi 34 (16/18), Rauf 31 (27-4), Tarapore 28 (19-9), Asnani 27 (13-14), Bowden 24 (18-6), Dar 18 (14-4), Tucker 12 (10-2), Mukherjee 11, Labrooy 9, and Das 5 (2-3). Taufel has stood in the last three IPL finals and Bowden and Rauf one each.
It appears likely given that IPL-5 still has six-and-a-half weeks to run, the final not being scheduled until 27 May, that other umpires and referees will be brought in to support matches. Three of the six ICC EUP members not used to date, Marais Erasmus of South Africa, Ian Gould of England and Tony Hill of New Zealand, are involved in the Test series in the Caribbean between the West Indies and Australia until the end of this month, a time at which the IPL will still have almost four weeks to run. Hill worked in last year's IPL and Erasmus in the previous two, but as yet Gould has not featured in a series.
It is not known if the other three EUP members, Steve Davis of Australia, Billy Doctrove of the West Indies and Richard Kettleborough of England, have been offered IPL-5 contracts; although as far as it is known none of those three have appointments elsewhere over the next six weeks. Like Srinath, Doctrove has worked in all four series up until this year, while Davis stood in the first in 2008 but none since, however, Kettleborough will be making his debut should he be involved this year.
INTERNATIONAL CRICKET 'STANDS
AT A PRECIPICE', SAYS 'WISDEN' EDITOR
'Wisden' editor Lawrence Booth has called on India as "cricket's most powerful nation" to rise above the "self-interest and Twenty20 obsession" that he believes threatens the game, especially in its traditional form. Writing in what is the 149th edition of the 'Wisden Cricketers' Almanack' Booth, who thinks international cricket "stands at a precipice" and that Indian authorities have a key role to play in turning things around, addresses major issues, including the future of Tests, corruption, the need for India to use its power responsibly, and the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS).
In Booth's assessment "India have ended up with a special gift: the clout to shape an entire sport". Given India's influence, he is of the view that what he describes as the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) "apparent waning interest in Test cricket should concern everyone"; a situation that is driven in part by the fact that the Indian side has suffered eight consecutive Test defeats overseas over the last year. That has resulted from the "disintegration of India's feted batting line-up" which has in turn coincided with the "rise of a Twenty20-based nationalism, the growth of private marketeers and high-level conflicts of interest". As such "it is a perfect storm" writes Booth, and "the global game sits unsteadily in the eye" of that storm.
The sport of cricket needs India, continues Booth, but "too often [their approach] appears driven by the self-interest of the few". He supports his argument by stating that Indian team officials were unable to admit that injuries collected in, or aggravated by, the Indian Premier League (IPL) series of 2011 damaged their side's chances in England later that year, and that those same people were capable of disregarding the innings defeat at Sydney last January by responding with "breathless news of the schedule for IPL-5". They seem "happy to whitewash the whitewashes with constant references to last year's World Cup" win, says Booth.
Wisden's editor is particularly critical in his comments on the rhetoric of administrators' about the primacy of Test cricket, a view which he says "has been stated so often as to have lost any meaning". "Outside England, the Test match increasingly resembles the quiet zone of world cricket's gravy train: respected in theory, ignored in practice; and even in England, they have axed a Test this [northern] summer in favour of five extra One Day Internationals against Australia".
However, Booth indicates that India is not entirely alone in such matters says Booth, for "other countries run the game along self-serving lines too and cricket's boardrooms are not awash with [unselfishness]". He criticises decision-makers in Australia, England and South Africa for the overall situation regarding the number of Tests that are played each year, but it is India who are most accountable in Booth's view for he maintains that "none wields power like the BCCI's nor shares their responsibility".
On the UDRS Booth writes: "As a direct consequence of India's unrivalled ability to get their own way" and not allow the system in series it is involved in, "what is out in Mumbai may now be not out in Melbourne or Manchester". The situation had led to "the debate over the [review system] becoming so complex as to have lost touch with the game it was supposed to simplify", he says.
The 149th edition of 'Wisden', which is published by UK firm A & C Black, goes on sale in England today priced £45 ($A70), and Booth's comments are likely to draw fire over the next few weeks.
PLAYING THE GAME
Monday, 16 April 2012
NEUTRAL OFFICIALS FOR
BANGLADESH VISIT TO LAHORE?
International cricket is set to return to Pakistan following a three year break after the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) formally advised the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) late last week that they will play single One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) in Lahore on 29-30 April. Whether the International Cricket Council (ICC) will provide neutral match officials has not yet been made clear, but given what its says is "its duty of care to match officials and other ICC staff", the world body has asked the PCB to "provide a comprehensive security plan" for the visit.
No Test-ranked national side has toured Pakistan since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team and match officials in Lahore in March 2009 which saw 7 people killed and an umpire critically injured (PTG 380-2021, 4 March 2009). Last month the ICC announced that in order to facilitate the proposed tour by Bangladesh it would suspend its rule that requires neutral match officials to be appointed to international games (PTG 910-4429, 8 March 2012).
The Federation of International Cricket Associations (FICA), or the player's union, criticised the ICC for that stance (PTG 913-4441, 12 March 2012), saying that if it was not prepared to send its match officials there it shouldn't approving a visit by players. Following that BCB President Mustafa Kamal, who visited Lahore last month to assess security, was reported to have said that his country's national team will not visit Pakistan "unless and until" the ICC allots neutral umpires for the proposed tour (PTG 917-4465, 19 March 2012).
Normal ICC practice sees T20Is looked after by four 'home' umpires plus a match referee from a neutral nation. The referee would also be needed for the ODI, along with one or two neutral umpires, or three of four home umpires, the number of umpires from outside Pakistan depending on whether the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) will be in operation or not. Given the short time frame involved though, with the matches to be played in less than two weeks, the UDRS may not be in use during the two games.
IPL BOWLER REPORTED
FOR 'SUSPECT ACTION'
West Indian off-spin bowler Marlon Samuels has been reported for a suspect action following his Pune team's Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Chennai on Saturday. The IPL said in a press release yesterday that on-field umpires Aleem Dar of Pakistan and Bruce Oxenford of Australia along with third umpire Indian Vineet Kulkarni had filed a report about Samuel's action at the conclusion of the match.
The IPL's 'Suspected Illegal Bowling Action' policy will allow Samuels to continue to play and bowl for Pune, but should he be reported a second time, "he will be suspended from bowling for the remainder of the season", says the release. A senior Pune official said they have yet to "decided on our future course of action as we have just received the official intimation [but] as of now, if he is playing, he will be bowling".
Samuel's "fast deliveries" led to him being reported for a suspect action following a Test match in Durban in January 2008 (PTG 192-1043, 7 February 2008). Last year, following "significant remedial work", an independent test found his action to be legal and he was cleared by the International Cricket Council for bowling in international cricket (PTG 840-4105, 30 September 2011). Earlier this month, prior to the start of the current IPL series, umpires and match referees were directed to "strictly apply" the relevant Laws when it comes to bowlers who they deem, through "naked eye observations", to have illegal actions (PTG 925-4504, 7 April 2012).
CONSISTENT UDRS PACKAGES, NEUTRAL
UMPIRES, NEEDED, SAYS DAR
Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar, the winner of the last three world 'Umpire of the Year' awards (PTG 839-4102, 27 September 2011), has rejected suggestions that neutral umpires are not required in international cricket, and has "strongly" backed the use of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) in the international game, say press reports from Lahore over the weekend. However, while he backed the use of technology in decision making, Dar stressed the need for standardised UDRS packages, and consistency in the way they the information they provide are used in games.
Lahore-based Dar said that the UDRS ensures that most decisions made during a game can be corrected should the evidence available from replays and other devices warrant it. According to him though, "some umpires find it uncomfortable having to reverse a decision that they have made in front of thousands at the ground and millions on television". "But umpires are human and they make mistakes", he said, and "one incorrect decision can change the whole scenario of a match", and that is why he backs the UDRS.
Despite that Dar went on to say that while technology brings advantages "there has to be consistency in terms of the technology that is made available" for UDRS packages, and also that the way information garnered from such systems is dealt with and applied in a consistent manner. Such an approach would make it "easier for players, spectators and umpires alike ", he says.
Quizzed about his view as to whether 'Hot Spot' technology should be used in every cricket series, he replied: “Yes absolutely. That technology is definitely benefiting the decision making process". "Super slow motion cameras definitely helps the umpires", says Dar, and "if all this technology was available in every series then it would bring about consistency to the UDRS process.
Talking about neutral umpires, Dar said that while he's "very grateful that I've been the top ranking umpire for the last 3 years, the opportunity to umpire in the Ashes is "just something special and I would not have had that opportunity if it had not been for the introduction of neutral umpires". "Umpiring in the Ashes series is very tough due to the intensity, but I feel more pressure umpiring a match involving Pakistan than I do in any other match", he said.
ICC TO CONSIDER CURATOR'S
The International Cricket Council's (ICC) Cricket Committee is to consider a dozen recommendations on how pitches and grounds around the world can be further improved that were developed during last week's Curator's workshop in Dubai. ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson told the Press Trust of Indian in New Delhi on Saturday that the two-day workshop, during which discussions centred on the general standard of pitches in Test playing nations, was "very fruitful".
Asked to elaborate on the points discussed Atkinson said "We spoke about how we can have one common solution which will help in upgrading the pitches in various countries, whether [they be in] England, Australia, India or wherever". "I can't divulge the details of our proposal", he continued, "but it will be out in the public domain in the next few weeks". "We are confident though that if [the 12] suggestions are implemented, we will see further improvement in standard of pitches" around the world.
Atkinson went on to talk about the 'drop-in' pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), however, he thinks that portable pitches may not work in India. "The MCG is a multi-purpose ground where apart from cricket, rugby and soccer are also played, but that is not the case in India were the grounds are exclusively used for cricket". "Also, having drop-in pitches involve heavy expenditure and also you need conditions to maintain them", said Atkinson.
PLAYING THE GAME
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
ASSOCIATION DITCHES TWO-DAY
The Board of a cricket competition in the north-west of Tasmania has decided to dump the split innings format it introduced into its two-day matches on a trial basis in the last half of the 2011-12 austral summer season. Cricket North West (CNW) officials had hoped that the split format would guarantee players the opportunity to bat and bowl on both days of a two-day fixture and that many current, former and potential players in the region would thereby be encouraged to either stay in the game or want to re-engage (PTG 886-4322, 13 January 2012).
A survey of current players, umpires and club members conducted by CNW over the last month, plus key match statistics and general observations, resulted in its Board voting unanimously last week that it was in the best interests of cricket in the region to revert to the traditional two-day format, says an article by journalist Shannon Shephard in yesterday's edition of 'The Advocate' newspaper.
CNW president Chris Mitchell told Shephard that "the thing that came out loud and clear when we conducted the survey was that players value the traditional two-day format of the game", and in particular they "really value being able to bat for longer and build an innings". CNW's split innings rules were based around maximum of 180 overs across the two days with 90 being required to be bowled in each day's play, those 90 being divided into two lots of 45 overs for each side.
"Players were also telling us that under the split innings format, the second day wasn't providing a climax to the game and spin bowlers didn't get as many opportunities under the new format", continued Mitchell, and "there was also some confusion around the complexity of some of the rules, which didn't help matters". However, "we certainly don't regret trialling split innings cricket ... it was a brave thing to do and we can say we've given it a go". "We always had the option of reverting back to the traditional format so there is certainly no harm done", he said.
The traditional two-day format will return to CNW's roster and is to form a key part of its 2012-13 season along with both Twenty20 and one-day formats.
FIRST WOMEN WINS WELLINGTON
'UMPIRE OF THE YEAR' AWARD
New Zealand umpire Kathy Cross has become the first women to be named as Wellington Cricket's 'Umpire of the Year' ahead of regular recipient Evan Watkin, a former Test Umpire. Cross, 55, has been a trail blazer for her gender in Wellington since she took up umpiring in the late 1990s, being largely the only woman officiating in club matches in the capital in her time, and certainly at a national level.
Despite what reports say was "another outstanding season" by Watkin, the marks he received from Wellington senior club captains which were tallied to decide the award were bettered by Cross. Competition for the trophy is said to have been "a particularly tight, high-quality contest, which was not decided untill the final weekend of the season". Cross says that winning the award "meant a great deal to her as for years Watkin, 60, was the yardstick with his background of three Test appearances and 127 first-class matches overall to date.
Cross' appointments over the last six years have included six men's List A and one Twenty20 matches, and 54 women's provincial matches in her home country, three in the latter competition being finals, plus numerous other games. Internationally she has looked after total of 20 women's One Day Internationals, and in the season just ended was appointed to the women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in Bangladesh, being the lone female in a group of eight umpires (PTG 852-4162, 30 October 2011), a series that saw her stand in the playoff for third. Prior to that she officiated in two women's World Cups, one in Australia and the other at home.
Cross says that umpiring has enabled her to make many lasting friendships around the country and in other countries. She stressed though that it has not always been plain sailing for her, but that she has been determined to enhance her standing as an umpire, and urged aspiring umpires to commit themselves each Saturday even when they wondered why they bothered, as the rewards are there if they persevere.
Another trophy awarded at the Wellington Cricket Umpires and Scorers groups end of season function was to first-year chairman David Brandon for outstanding service. Australian-borm Brandon, 63, stood in seven first class games in Australia from 1999-2001, and he is credited with helping his association to conduct its affairs more professionally and develop stronger relationships with the clubs and Cricket Wellington (CW) itself.
CW's 2011-12 club season also saw former first class umpire Jeremy Busby, 50, chalk up his 500th match, nearly 400 of them being in the top grades of the Canterbury and Wellington competitions. He started umpiring aged 18 in Christchurch in 1979 literally by accident after he badly broke the thumb on his bowling hand in a football training accident that year. Faced with a summer of inactivity he decided to try umpiring, his colleague in his first game being Brian Aldridge, then 39, who went on to stand in international matches, including 26 Tests and 45 One Day Internationals, one of the latter being a World Cup final.
ONE OR TWO AUSSIE NUP
CONTRACTS UP FOR GRABS?
Just when Cricket Australia (CA) will announce who will make up its National Umpiring Panel (NUP) for the 2012-13 season is not clear, however, work is likely to be underway either now or in the next few weeks to draw up contract offers for the 12 who are expected to be involved. What is known is that with the retirement of long-serving member Bob Parry last month (PTG 919-4475, 23 March 2012), at least one vacancy exists on the panel, however, there could be a second if as anticipated by many current NUP member Bruce Oxenford is awarded an International Cricket Council (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) contract.
Seasoned observers in a number of states are suggesting that Tasmanian Sam Nogajski, who made his first class debut last austral summer, is the front runner to fill Parry's position. Nogajski, 32, who in addition to moving successfully up to first class level was also awarded a prestigious Australian Sport Commission National Officiating Scholarship late last year (PTG 872-4259, 13 December 2011), will have, most likely coincidently, Parry as his mentor during his scholarship year. He will be mindful though that a former state colleague of his, Steven John, achieved a similar first class debut, scholarship, 'double' in 2009-10, but was overlooked for a NUP spot by Victorian Ash Barrow who at that stage had yet to officiate at first class level (PTG 639-3183, 26 July 2010).
Should Oxenford, 52, not be promoted if would surprise many as over the last 12 months ICC has appointed him to stand in six Tests, more than any current EUP member in that time, plus four One Day Internationals (ODI) in the World Cup, and another three in Zimbabwe, CA also giving him five ODIs and two Twenty20 Internationals at home. While not an ICC appointment, Oxenford is also currently working in the Indian Premier League's 2012 competition for the first time (PTG 927-4511, 12 April 2012).
If Queensland-based Oxenford moves up the EUP, those other than Nogajski in line for promotion onto CA's NUP probably come down to either another Queenslander, Damien Mealey, or Richard Patterson of Victoria. Like Nogajski, Mealey was also given his initial first class match in 2011-12, although that debut was marred by a playing conditions mistake made by he and his more experienced colleague, NUP member Mick Martell (PTG 899-4372, 9 February 2012); although that didn't stop Martell topping the list of home-and-away match Sheffield Shield appointments during the season (PTG 908-4414, 3 March 2012).
While Mealey, who turns 44 this Friday, has one first class game under his belt, Patterson, 46 last week, chalked up a total of 22 over the five years from 1999. He is understood to have fallen out of favour with the then selectors in 2005, but his recent return to senior cricket culminated in his being selected for the main final of the Under-19, four nation One Day International series in Townsville on Sunday, along with another Tasmanian, Mike Graham-Smith (PTG 904-4396, 21 February 2012).
CA's Umpire Manager Sean Craig watched some of the initial games in the 10-match series in Townsville, while his Umpire Educator, Denis Burns, who also doubles as a CA Umpire High Performance Panel (UHPP) member, and another UHPP member Bob Stratford, together observed every game. Presumably the selection of Patterson and Graham-Smith means they were rated ahead of the other two umpires selected for Townsville, Jay Kanger and Simon Lightbody of Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory respectively. The latter two looked after the match to determine the tournament's third place finisher.
FLOODLIGHTS NOW ALLOWED IN
COUNTY FIRST CLASS FIXTURES
Floodlights can be used in County first class fixtures in England this northern summer for the first time if, in the opinion of the umpires, bad light threatens to stop play, says a report in 'The Guardian' newspaper. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) polled Counties whose grounds have permanent lighting systems about the issue last month, and the move was subsequently written into playing conditions.
One county that were very much in favour were Nottinghamshire, who have already seen the benefit. Their opening Division One match against Worcestershire earlier this month was uninterrupted and ended on the fourth morning. That was because umpires Tim Robinson and George Sharp had the floodlights turned on for three hours on the second day, for part of the first and last sessions of day three, and on the final morning, bringing a positive result to a match where there wouldn’t have been one in the past.
Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's director of cricket told journalist Dave Bracegirdle afterwards that "the lights certainly worked in our favour in this match" and while "it probably won’t always be like that we think it’s a great idea. "There’s nothing worse for the paying spectator than sitting in a ground where there’s nothing going on and it’s not raining", he concluded. His opposite number, Worcestershire’s Steve Rhodes, is also in favour although "unfortunately we haven’t got permanent lights at New Road but it’s enabled a match to go ahead here and we’re all in favour of that".
Derek Brewer, Nottinghamshire’s chief executive, told journalists that the choice given to his and other clubs by the ECB "was either to use [the lights] when conditions warrant it or not use them at all". “There isn’t the facility to pick and choose games – it’s either all or nothing. We reasoned that the lights wouldn’t need to be used that often and if it enabled the cricket to continue then it would be for the good of everyone connected with the game".
Brewer and his club are fully supportive of the initiative. “This summer, in particular, cricket has to really compete to attract spectators to the grounds. With the Olympics and the European Football Championships providing an alternative we have to do everything we can to attract people to the cricket and keep them coming back". According to Brewer the cost isn’t prohibitive. “It isn’t too expensive for a full day’s usage and the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages".
The ECB handbook covering the new regulation states that: “If in the opinion of the umpires the natural light has deteriorated to an unsuitable level they may authorise the home authority to switch on the floodlights so that the match can continue in acceptable conditions".
OTHER IPL BOWLERS ACTIONS 'WORSE
THAN SAMUELS', CLAIMS HIS SKIPPER
There are bowlers playing in this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) series who have delivery actions that are much more suspect than the Pune franchises' off-spinner Marlon Samuels, claimed his captain Sourav Ganguly yesterday. Samuels was reported for a suspect action following his team's IPL match against Chennai on Saturday (PTG 928-4514, 16 April 2012).
Ganguly told reporters in Bangalore yesterday that he is "surprised that [Samuels] has been warned" for "to be honest if you go around the IPL there are a few others who are probably worse". Asserting that Samuels would, as allowed in IPL regulations, keep playing for Pune, Ganguly said that "all we want is fairness for he has bowled in three IPL games so far and was not warned".
LORD'S PITCH 'WORST EVER',
CLAIMS LOOSING SIDE
Surrey team director Chris Adams has labelled the pitch provided at Lord's for their first class fixture against Middlesex which ended on Sunday as the "worst" he has ever seen at the famous ground. Adams and his skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown pointed to the pitch as the primary reason for Middlesex's win after Surrey lost 6/36 on the last day to miss an outright win by just three runs, the captain saying that balls "went up and down, seam movement was exaggerated and people were getting hit".
However, victorious Middlesex captain Neil Dexter said did not see the surface as a hindrance to playing good cricket. "It was one of those wickets you knew there was something in it all game", he said, and "the pitch lasted almost the four days so to be playing on that wicket early season I don't think was too bad. The way they got out [on the last] morning had nothing to do with the wicket, it was the shots [their batsmen played] and some good bowling".
Reports from the ground described the pitch as "soft" and that it was "perhaps underprepared after poor weather in the days before the match". What umpires Steve O'Shaughnessy and Martin Saggers thought about the pitch has not been reported.
Middlesex's Tim Murtagh celebrated one of the wickets he took in Surrey's second innings in a manner that a 'Cricinfo' report says "probably sent the MCC secretary straight to his inkwell". After the dismissal Murtagh is said to have sprinted 50-metres towards the boundary followed by his colleagues and ending up spreadeagled in a "heap" on the Lord's turf in the fashion sometimes favoured by Premier League footballers.
PLAYING THE GAME
Thursday, 19 April 2012
LIMIT TO BAT THICKNESS WOULD IMPROVE SAFETY
AND THE GAME, SAYS SEASONED JOURNALIST
Prominent and long-time English cricket journalist Scyld Berry believes the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) needs to legislate to set a maximum width for bats for the first time, otherwise "increasingly powerful batsmen with increasingly powerful bats" who consistently hit the ball harder than ever before, could seriously injure or even kill someone on the field. In a story published London's 'Sunday Telegraph' recently Berry, who until last year was the editor 'Wisden', called for the the maximum thickness of a bat to be no "more than one inch" [2.54 cm], for the protection of participants and for the "aesthetics" of the game.
Writing about safety issues Berry says that it could be a bowler who gets badly hurt, especially if he drops his head after delivery, and he gives examples of bowlers being hit in the head by balls struck by the batsmen in County cricket and the Indian Premier League in recent years; although obviously such situations also occur at the lower levels of the game (PTG 903-4393, 21 February 2012). Another victim of such a situation is the non-striker, writes Berry, who also points to umpires being in the firing line as well.
Rob Bailey, a member of the England and Wales Cricket Board's first class umpires panel and a former player at that level, told Berry that he and his colleagues have "been talking about how to protect ourselves, especially when you are standing up to the stumps for a spinner". John Steele, another former County player turned first-class umpire said that when he is umpiring he wears a 'box' as a precaution. Three years ago former Australian umpire Daryl Harper said that he believed that "its just a matter of time before umpires in higher-level Twenty20 matches wear baseball helmets which cover the face with a grill for protection". "The bats are getting heavier, and the shots are hit with more ferocity" and "it's becoming really dangerous for us", said Harper at the time (PTG 423-2233, 14 May 2009).
Berry writes that in 1771 the width of the bat was limited to 4¼" (10.8 cm), then in 1835 the MCC set a maximum length of 38" (96.5 cm), figures that remain to this day. He goes on to say though that the MCC "would have made it a nice and sensible progression if in the 1900s they had legislated on the bat’s thickness". The then "lawmakers were dormant" in regards to that issue, he says, although the "eminent former cricket correspondent of 'The Times', John Woodcock, lobbied hard on the issue when he was an MCC committee man" several decades ago.
Traditionally, continued Berry, the bat’s thickness was between the size of a "fingernail and a thumbnail for anything thicker and a bat would become too heavy and unwieldy". Today, bats can be thicker than 1½" (3.8 cm) at the edge, and up to 2½" (6.35 cm) thick in the middle, yet very few of today’s versions weigh as much as 3 lb 1.36 kg]". Despite the fact that "there is so much wood in them, and that they can break more easily, they are barely heavier than the traditional blade", he says.
According to Berry "if the bat’s thickness were limited to one inch it would, in addition to protecting the health of umpires, non-strikers and bowlers, be good for the aesthetics of the game". "It gets boring in Twenty20 when every other ball disappears [over the boundary]; and it is wrong for a batsman to get four runs for a forward push, without any follow-through". "Variety is being lost as the drive, including the thick edge for six, becomes too prevalent, while the late cut has disappeared", he says.
In May 2007, the MCC's World Cricket Committee (WCC) said that short boundaries, coupled with the advancing technology being introduced in cricket equipment, particularly bats, weigh the odds in favour of the batsmen to the detriment of bowlers, particularly the spinners (PTG 44-239, 23 May 2007). Then MCC Chief Executive Keith Bradshaw, said that he wouldn't want cricket to move "down the path of other sports such as tennis or golf, where the advent of carbon fibre and graphite shafts have changed the dynamics of the game and the way that it's [played]". Bradshaw indicated that the MCC didn't want to see a situation where "if a batsman mistimes a shot, the ball suddenly sails out of the ground for six" (PTG 100-544, 17 September 2007).
Over the following year the club consulted with a range of manufacturers and reached the conclusion that the average weight of bats had not changed much, if at all, and that the appearance of greater volume was often due to the fact they were no longer pressed in preparation for use as much as in the past. Nevertheless after that investigation the club moved to amend Law 6 'The Bat', and the changes it formulated, which detailed the types of material that could be used, set a maximum length for the bat's splice, and restricted the thickness of materials that can be used to protect and repair bats, were agreed toby MCC members in May 2008 (PTG 241-1323, 12 May 2008); however, the thickness of the bat itself was mentioned.
Three months after the change was approved former England player Tony Lewis, then the WCC's Chairman who regarded the revision of Law 6 as a "good move", said that "more investigation is needed into the weight and thickness of the bat" (E-News 301-1584, 25 August 2008). Whether any further work has been conducted as a result of Lewis' views is not known, but Berry's article has once again brought the issue to the fore.
UDRS UNAVAILABILITY STOPS PLAY
Over the centuries games of cricket have been interrupted by all manner of weather conditions, riots, air raids, animals, including swarms of bees, people protesting one cause or another, and even helicopters landing in the middle of the playing area to name just a few examples, but we now have an even more modern factor, the non-availability of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS). On Tuesday, the start of day three of the second Test between the West Indies and Australia in Trinidad was delayed by 20-minutes after a power failure cut the television coverage and the cameras that support the UDRS, and match referee Jeff Crowe decided to halt proceedings so players and officials could discuss the situation.
Tuesday morning in Sport of Spain brought bright blue skies and the teams, the Australians being in the field, walked on to the ground ready for play to commence at the scheduled time. They quickly retreated back to the dressing room before a ball was bowled though after being told the referral system was not working, initial reports incorrectly stating that Australian captain Michael Clarke did not want to play without the UDRS in operation.
Crowe and on-field umpires Marais Erasmus of South Africa and Ian Gould of England are believed to have talked to both sides during the break and it was apparently agreed play would continue without the review system. West Indies coach Ottis Gibson was quoted by 'Sydney Morning Herald' ('SMH'] journalist Andrew Wu yesterday as saying that "we had a little discussion [and decided] that we're here to play cricket and cricket used to be played without TV so let's get on with it". It was also agreed that play should continue without the UDRS should there be another power outage, writes Wu, who scotched suggestions made by some that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) needed to consult the host broadcaster about whether play could start without the telecast in operation.
The 'SMH' scribe says that 'Hot Spot' and 'Snicko' are not part of the UDRS package currently in use in the Caribbean "as the WICB cannot afford the technology". "They, like all countries except India, want the ICC to rule that the same technology should be used worldwide", a view shared by many prominent figures in the world-wide game, including international player's union chief Tim May (PTG 803-3926, 25 July 2011), and umpires such as Aleem Dar of Pakistan (PTG 928-4515, 16 April 2012), and Australian Simon Taufel (PTG 824-4029, 3 September 2011).
Darren Goodger, the New South Wales Director of Umpiring, who is a UDRS supporter, says in an audio clip posted the 'SMH' posted on its web site yesterday that "in an ideal world play should have started on time [but] the reality is in the many many Test matches and One Day Internationals over the last few years when the [UDRS] has been used, things have gone very well in relation to the use of the technology". The situation in Trinidad this week was, says Goodger, "just one minor hick up in the scheme of things".
UMPIRE 'NOT OUT' AGED 91,
AFTER A 61 YEAR INNINGS
Charles Fenton from Manchester is currently England's longest-serving and oldest umpire at the age of 91, says a story in yesterday's edition of the 'London' newspaper 'The Sun'. Fenton has been overseeing games in the Derbyshire and Cheshire League (DCL) for 61 years, having stood in his first match in that competition in 1951; but despite his age the retired estate agent is in "no hurry to give the game away".
The 91-year-old "fell in love" with the cricket after watching both Lancashire and England play at Old Trafford in the 1940s and decided he'd like to be an umpire. "I had an interview with the Derbyshire and Cheshire cricket board and they accepted me, and much to my surprise in only my second year I was asked to umpire at a big charity match between a Lancashire-Yorkshire XI and Derbyshire-Cheshire. "My hero Freddie Truman was playing and he bowled from my end", said Fenton, who described it as "the highlight of my career and I still have the scorecard from that day signed by all the players".
The now great-grandfather, who "never imagined six decades ago that I’d still be here today at my age still umpiring", told journalist Matt Quinton that "the secret of being a good umpire is that you don’t try to be the boss [for] even though you are in charge, don’t try to be the boss". “Try and be one of the team, I get a lot of respect, and never have problems with the players", he said. His umpiring colleague Tony Eaton, a relative youngster at 74, says Fenton is still more than up to the job, despite his advancing years. ”Charlie is amazing and a pleasure to work with", said Eaton, for "I need glasses but he doesn’t and for his age he is marvellous". "He doesn’t miss a trick and he is sharper out there than me".
Asked how he was able to stand for six hours during a game, Fenton said that he gets very absorbed in matches he is standing in for "cricket is a fascinating game to watch". "I would love to go on for another 61 years as I really enjoy it", continued Fenton, however he worries that Twenty20 will overtake the one-day match format the DCL currently plays all of its games under. "I like [T20] it’s exciting and the public like to watch it", he says, but it’s a short game and I’m worried the one-day matches will go".
Despite his longevity 'The Sun' reports states that the umpiring stalwart is still nine years short of the record for England's oldest-ever umpire. In 1962 Joe Filliston stood at Lord's in a match between an 'Old England' and Lord's Taverners side when over 100 some two years before his death aged 102. In his younger days Filliston played cricket with the legendary Dr. W. G. Grace. He used to talk of the occasion, after he took up umpiring, when he gave Grace out leg-before in a match at the Crystal Palace, but 'WG' reportedly refused to leave the crease and, as nobody had the courage to contradict him, he continued his innings.
RELIEF FOR PITCHES IN EAST ANGLIA
AS 'HOSEPIPE BAN' IS LIFTED
Cricket clubs in East Anglia will be allowed to use appropriate amounts of water when preparing their pitches after they successfully appealed against the local water authority's "hosepipe ban" brought in as part of water saving measures. While drought is not normally a factor most people think of when considering England's weather, the last five months in the region have been the driest on record and come at the end of what has been the second dry winter in a row.
While golf and bowls clubs will remain under the ban, dispensation has now been given to cricket, football and rugby authorities to maintain their playing surfaces for "health and safety" resons. One cricket club chairman was quoted as saying that "we are relieved that Anglian Water has seen sense [for] if you don't water a cricket pitch you cannot maintain the bounce of the ball and this can be potentially very dangerous".
"If the wicket is not right we could have the ball flying up and catching out the bastmen and the wicket keepers", he continued, for "what that could do to someone's face does not stand thinking about". "An umpire would not think twice about taking the teams off if the wicket was not right and so it's a good thing for the sport that we are being able to do this".
ICC STILL AWAITING SECURITY PLAN
FOR BANGLADESH VISIT TO LAHORE
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has yet to receive Pakistan's security plan for Bangladesh's two-match tour which is due to start in ten days time. Whether the ICC will provide neutral match officials for the two games planned has not yet been made clear, but earlier this week, given "its duty of care to match officials and other ICC staff", the world body has asked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to "provide a comprehensive security plan" for the visit (PTG 928-4513, 16 April 2012).
This morning Bangladeshi media outlets are quoting PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf as saying yesterday that "the report is delayed, but I hope it will be dispatched today". Ashraf said the ICC wanted the report during last week's executive board meeting in Dubai, but he hadn't finished hearing from all the required security departments in Pakistan. The decision to go ahead with the brief visit has led to leading Bangladeshi cricketers and team officials expressing grave concerns, its outgoing Bangladesh coach Stuart Law being among those who voiced fears about security in Pakistan.
Pakistan has not hosted any Test-playing team since a terrorist attack on the vehicles in which Sri Lankan team and match officials were travelling in Lahore in March 2009 (PTG 380-2021, 4 March 2009).
WEST INDIES COACH FINED FOR
'INAPPROPRIATE' UDRS REMARKS
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson has been fined 20 per cent of his match fee for criticising the effectiveness of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) and the way data from it has been interpreted by match officials during the Test series between his side and the Australians. The International Cricket Council (ICC) indicated in a statement issued on Friday that the focus of the Level 1 charge was "inappropriate public comments" Gibson made during a media briefing at the end of the Test's third day's play in Trinidad on Tuesday.
Match referee Jeff Crowe, said in the statement that "In the pre-series meetings [involving himself, the umpires and senior team members and coaches from both sides], it was agreed that players and coaches should not engage in negative media comments". Crowe indicated that Gibson, who pleaded guilty to charges laid against him by on-field umpires Marais Erasmus of South Africa and Ian Gould from England, plus third umpire Tony Hill of New Zealand, "accepts that he overstepped the mark during the game and has accepted his sanction".
One aspect of Gibson's concern was what he sees as the need for consistency in the technology that makes up the UDRS package from series to series. 'Hot Spot' is not being used in the Caribbean for the current series because the West Indies Cricket Board cannot afford it, and Gibson told journalists on Tuesday that "if the ICC is going to use the UDRS I think they should use all the technology" and "if we haven't got all the technology we shouldn't use it at all".
Gibson's comments about consistency of systems is not new, similar thoughts having been made over the last year by many other senior officials from a number of countries, including the ICC's two senior umpires (PTG 930-4524, 19 April 2012). However, what appears to have attracted the particular ire of Crowe, Erasmus, Gould and Hill, is the West Indian's coach's reference to the way information from the technology that has been available for the two Tests so far has been handled by the umpiring team.
One example of the type of contentious decision-making Gibson believes prevails involved Australian captain Michael Clarke in the first Test in Barbados, when Erasmus was the third umpire. Clarke was given 'out' caught-behind by Hill only to see that decision overturned upon review and Gibson argued there wasn't sufficient evidence in the replay to suggest the original decision was wrong.
"To us sitting watching it, we didn't see anything conclusive to say that he had hit it or not hit it so therefore we thought that the decision the umpire [to give Clarke out in the first place] should have stood instead of being overruled", as required by ICC playing conditions. Gibson drew back on Tuesday though for he went on to state that he can't "say what I really want to say about the UDRS because the ICC will sack me or ban me or whatever".
ICC Level 1 breaches carry a minimum penalty of a warning or reprimand up to a maximum penalty of 50 per cent of the match fee of the person concerned.
WCC CHAIRMAN GOES INTO
BAT FOR DAY-NIGHT TESTS
Former England captain Mike Brearley, who is now the Chairman of the Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) World Cricket Committee (WCC), says in a blog posted on the MCC web site that "the time to act" with regard to the introduction of pink ball, day-night Tests is "now", although not in Australia or England as the day-based game in those nations is still popular with crowds. Brearley's comments back-up those of MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson, who earlier this month following the MCC-Lancashire day-night first class match in Abu Dhabi, called on the game's administrators to "take a leap of faith" and play such a Test (PTG 925-4502, 7 April 2012).
The main focus of Brearley's piece is the need to "bring a new audience to Test cricket", although it is not needed in England "because we get good" crowds to such games, or Australia "where crowds are still healthy", but "every other Test-playing nation should be considering such games". Despite his view, which is the similar to that pushed by the MCC for the last four years, only two of the other eight Test nations, Pakistan and the West Indies, have made an attempt to conduct day-night, pink ball, trials at first class level, the former playing two such games over the last three years and the latter eight. The emphasis in most countries has instead been on Twenty20 leagues.
When it comes to day-night Tests "the shorter the dusk period the better", says Brearley, who like Stephenson attended the Abu Dhabi game. "The tropics or near-tropics would be best suited to pink-ball cricket" he continue, but it "should be tried everywhere, even [in] New Zealand where dusk can be low and slow, but which very much needs to stimulate Test crowds".
In his comments Stephenson, who called for further trials at first class level around the world, acknowledged that despite a new generation pink ball being used in Abu Dhabi, problems were still experienced in seeing it both on and from off the field of play during the twilight period between full daylight and when the lights taking effect. However, he brushed past the issue with the comment that it added another "nuance" to the game and further interest as players worked "tactically" to negotiated such periods. In addressing the issue Brearley, who thinks "all balls are hard to see when the light fades", states simply that if "a few more batsmen find it a bit more difficult to score runs during the twilight period [in a day-night Test], the world is not going to end".
Brearley describes the WCC as "a pressure group" but that true "power lies with administrators", presumably a reference to national Boards as well as the International Cricket Council (ICC). He says that "due to the fact [Stephenson] and the ICC’s Dave Richardson sit on both [the WCC] and ICC’s Cricket committees, we have open lines of communication to the extent we can request items [such as day-night Tests] to be included on the [latter group's] agenda. The pink ball of 2012 "is better than that used in 2010, and no doubt that which will be used in 2015 will be better again, but that doesn’t mean administrators should simply keep waiting until some ideal time when everything is perfect, because [such a] wait will never end".
Richardson is seen as many observers as the key official in terms of influence at the ICC's offices in Dubai. Despite Brearley's hopefulness, the fact is that Richardson has been on the WCC for many years now and day-night Tests appear no closer despite what is becoming since 2007 an increasingly long list of attempts to kick start the format (PTG 925-4502, 7 April 2012).
CA 'RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION'
PUSH APPEARS STALLED
Cricket Australia's (CA) nation-wide survey of Level 2 accredited umpires was launched 12 months ago this week, but as yet there has been only limited publicity about the results, and no announcements at all as to just how the feedback obtained will be utilised. The survey, whose aim was to solicit information that could be used to develop improved 'recruitment and retention' strategies for umpires at all levels of the game in Australia, was the first of its kind conducted by the national body (PTG 758-3723, 15 April 2011).
Most umpiring Associations around Australia and in many parts of the world face the on-going challenge of having sufficient, well-trained, umpires to cover all matches in the competitions they support (PTG 609-3054, 21 May 2010), and there was a key need to identify the factors involved. While making clear that it believed the standard of umpiring in Australia is high (PTG 743-3644, 19 March 2011), CA said last year it wanted the focus to be on ensuring its "umpiring stocks" were strengthened at all levels.
Conducted by independent research consultancy 'SportINFO', the survey consistent of 32 separate questions, and can still be seen today on the umpiring section of CA's web site. It canvassed issues that included: how satisfied umpires were with the role they play; the adequacy of current training and development programs; general communication issues; the appropriateness of support provided by local umpiring Associations; mentoring programs and their value; whether individuals see themselves umpiring next season and in five years time; and what local Associations can do to "improve the experience of being a cricket umpire". '
Problems were experienced in contacting Level 2 umpires around the country because of mismanagement of CA's accreditation data-base (PTG 760-3730, 21 April 2011), and there were also suggestions by some that the survey's structure was flawed and it would be very difficult to obtain useful information from it as a result. Despite that, some basic findings were made public in August last year, the key factors reported being that the current engagement-appointment model may no longer be appropriate, and that there was a need to establish professional development programs for umpires in the 1-3 year bracket (PTG 818-4004, 23 August 2011). Since then though there have been no signs as to what CA may be proposing to tackle the recruitment and retention issue, which still remains as a challenge.
In a related matter, questions also remain as to what is happening with the reaccreditation program for already qualified Level 2 umpires that CA first looked at introducing five years ago. CA made clear, from the beginning the Level 2 scheme in 2002, that the initial qualification would have to be renewed via a re-accreditation process every five years, and on that basis the initial qualifiers would have been due for reassessment over the last half of 2007.
In May 2007, CA announced that it planned to contact the first wave of Level 2 umpires regarding reaccreditation (PTG 41-223, 17 May 2007). Then the plan called for the individuals concerned to indicate, via a brief one-page form, the number of games they had stood in over the previous four seasons, and to list their "[umpiring] professional development activities over that time". The latter was defined as such things as attendance at law schools, seminars, completion of examinations, and 'special' achievements such as selection for representative matches or finals matches (PTG 50-277, 1 June 2007).
That process was curtailed, however, as sometime during the last half of 2007 CA's Umpiring Department found the data base problem which made the task of contacting the individuals concerned if not impossible, very difficult. Efforts have been made both by CA and each of the States and Territories to resurrect the data-base over the last 12 months, but results so far are believed to be somewhat disappointing. As far as it is known though the same reaccreditation "method" as spelt out this time five years ago is to remain basically unchanged.
Suggestions earlier this year that CA's Level 1 and 2 umpire accreditation courses would be available on-line in February, and in the latter case revamped, have proven to be incorrect (PTG 896-4364, 2 February 2012). CA's Umpire Educator Denis Burns, who is primarily responsible for the work involved, provided a briefing on the project's progress to State and Territory Directors of Umpiring at their annual post-season meeting in Melbourne 12 months ago this week (PTG 761-3736, 27 April 2011). Since then nothing concrete has been heard about the status of the work, except one unconfirmed report that suggests that group's 2012 gathering next month may receive another briefing on the status of the project. However, roll out plans remain a mystery.
BANGLADESHI COURT ORDER SEES
POSTPONEMENT OF PROPOSED PAKISTAN TOUR
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has a little longer to consider the security plan for the planned visit by Bangladesh to Pakistan, and the safety of any match officials it might send there, after next weekend's tour was postponed for at least a month as a result of a Court order handed down in Dhaka on Thursday (PTG 930-4527, 19 April 2012). Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief Mustafa Kamal is now required to provide justification to the Court for his announcement earlier this month that his national side's tour should proceed (PTG 928-4513, 16 April 2012), however, a range of issues suggest that July is now the earliest that such a visit will be possible.
The decision by the Court came on the same day that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced it had, after a week's delay, sent a 70-page security plan for the tour to the ICC, and that tickets for the two scheduled games were to go on sale in a few days. The ICC had asked the PCB to "provide a comprehensive security plan" for the visit so that it could make a judgement as to whether it could provide neutral match officials to support the two games planned. Five weeks before that the ICC said that it would consider giving "special dispensation" that would allow non-neutral officials where the situation did not allow for neutrals (PTG 910-4429, 8 March 2012).
The PCB did not appreciate the Bangladeshi Court's decision, saying in a statement that "it is astonishing to note that a matter lacking any legal issue has been dragged in the court by petitioners who appear to have vested interest and want to jeopardise Pakistan-Bangladesh cricketing relations". "It is extremely disturbing to note for the PCB and Pakistan cricket fans and world cricketing nations that such an adverse order has been passed to block a bilateral cricket series".
Following the Court order Tim May, the head of the Federation of International Cricket Associations, or the player's union, repeated concerns he expressed about the tour a month ago, saying "that rather than reassure everyone of the safety of such a tour, the actions and comments of Kamal have only created heightened apprehensions and doubts amongst players re the safety of the tour and the motives of those involved in the decision".
The ICC's current international program suggests it is unlikely that Bangladesh will be able to reschedule the tour to the near future, for Pakistan is due to start a six-week visit to Sri Lanka in mid-May for a series that involves three Tests, five One Day Internationals (ODI) and two Twenty20 Internationals (T20I). The side currently has no games at all scheduled in July and for the first three weeks of August. After that it is to host Australia in Sri Lanka for a series four ODI, three T20Is, games that are followed immediately by the World T20 Championship and then the Champions League event.
PLAYING THE GAME
Thursday, 26 April 2012
UMPIRES NEED HELMETS FOR
PROTECTION, SAYS GAYLE
Former West Indian captain Chris Gayle, fresh from a whirlwind 56-ball 87 in an Indian Premier League Twenty20 match, said after the game on Friday that he believes umpires should wear helmets in order to protect themselves from wayward balls. Gayle's comment comes a week after English journalist Scyld Berry expressed concern that "increasingly powerful batsmen with increasingly powerful bats" who consistently hit the ball harder than ever before, could seriously injure or even kill someone on the field of play (PTG 930-4523, 19 April 2012).
Former Australia captain Graham Yallop, who in Barbados in 1978 was the first to wear a full helmet in a Test match, has backed Gayle’s view about umpires and helmets. He told 'Pakistan Observer' journalist Bipin Dani by telephone from Melbourne that the West Indian "hits the ball as hard as I have seen [and] I can understand why he has suggested that umpires should be protected".
Yallop, who used an old-style motor cycle-type helmet in 1978 before opting for what has become the more conventional head covering later in his career, told Dani that he recommended lighter helmets for umpires. "The head must be protected at all times", he said, and "I would suggest that a modified version of the helmet be worn by umpires particularly in Twenty20 and one-day matches". Echoing Berry's point of view, the Australian said that "players are generally hitting the ball much harder these days and cricket bats are made bigger and heavier than 10 years ago and if the umpire feels he is in danger of being hit, he should be protected".
Three years ago former Australian umpire Daryl Harper said that he believed that "its just a matter of time before umpires in higher-level Twenty20 matches wear baseball helmets which cover the face with a grill for protection". "The bats are getting heavier, and the shots are hit with more ferocity" and "it's becoming really dangerous for us", said Harper at the time (PTG 423-2233, 14 May 2009).
The two on-field umpires who watched Gayle's match-winning onslaught from close quarters on Friday were Australian Rod Tucker and S Ravi of India. "Thank God no-one got hit today", said Gayle, who was also concerned about spectators being struck by the ball.
GOVERNANCE CHANGES, RECORD
PROFIT, FOR CA
Significant changes to the size and structure of Cricket Australia's (CA) governing Board are likely to have started to come into affect by the time the 2012-13 austral summer season begins provided state associations agree to the proposed new arrangements at a special meeting scheduled for July. News of plans to move to an independent commission arrangement over the next three years, which was announced following a CA Board meeting on Tuesday, came soon after reports that the national body made a record profit last austral summer.
The proposed changes to the Board come in the light of last year's review of CA by sports governance specialists David Crawford and Colin Carter which, amongst other things, recommended that the Board should have one representative from each state, but that those persons should not hold positions with their own local associations (PTG 870-4249, 9 December 2011). Currently the Board consists of 14 members with some states nominating three directors each and others just two and one, an arrangement that has existed for many decades and is seen by some as encouraging a parochial approach to governance issues. The proposed new set up would see an 11-person Board which would be less likely to be tainted by geographic interests.
Apart from the Crawford-Carter report, the Board also had on the table at its meeting this week copies of the Australian Government's updated Australian Sports Commission (ASC) guidelines which were released last Thursday. Sports minister Kate Lundy stressed in detailing the new ASC requirements that sporting organisations need to ensure they are "transparent, accountable and responsible and follow best practice governance". She believes that the new arrangements "make it harder for sports not to progress their governance", and that her "expectations are quite high that [sports bodies] will make significant progress this year".
CA chairman Wally Edwards said after Tuesday's meeting that "if five out of the six states agree" in July the national body's constitution will be altered to reflect the proposed changes. Edwards said three previous reform attempts over the past two decades had failed because the bigger states didn't want to give up their voting strength. "There's been a lot of grumpiness about some states being more equal than others, three, two and one [votes]", he said. This week's Board meeting saw only one state, South Australia, indicated their opposition to the proposed changes. Provided only they maintain that position in July the move to the new arrangements will get underway.
Media reports over the last few days say that the triangular One Day International series between the home side, India and Sri Lanka in February-March was worth around $50m, a return that helped CA to what is said to be its best financial return on record. What one report described as "a huge cash injection" will allow CA to "replenish dangerously low reserves after player payments and state distributions were maintained in the face of unprofitable summers", however, despite the latter remark there have been cuts to at least some state budgets over the last year. "Only tours by India and England make money", continued the report, and as "India generates 80 per cent of cricket's wealth it is vital to Australia maintaining generous player payments".
Whether the "huge cash injection" will see extra resources filter down to support umpire and scorer related issues later this year, especially at grass roots levels, remains to be seen.
FIRST CLASS DEBUTS
FOR ECB TRIO
The three newest members of the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) umpire Reserve List, Mike Burns, Ben Debenham and Paul Pollard (PTG 866-4232, 1 December 2011), all made their first class umpiring debuts earlier this month in three-day matches between County sides and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) sponsored university teams. The trio's debuts leaves only one ECB Reserve List member, former Hampshire and Sussex player Billy Taylor, 35, who has yet to stand at first class level.
Burns, 43, who played in 154 first class matches for Warwickshire and Somerset over the 14 years from from 1992-2005, stood with long-serving ECB Full List umpire Jeremy Lloyds who is nearing the 200-match mark at first class level, in Somerset's game against MCC Cardiff University in Taunton. Pollard, 43, another former first class player, who chalked up 192 matches at that level for Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire from 1987-2001, was accompanied on the field by another Full List umpire, Steve O'Shaughnessy, when Middlesex took on MCC Durham University in Northwood on the outskirts of London.
Debenham, 44, stood in the game between Glamorgan and MCC Oxford University at the latter's ground, being partnered by Full List umpire Trevor Jesty who is approaching the 250 first class match mark. Debenham has not played at first class level, his career high being with the Second XIs of Essex, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire.
AUSSIE UMPIRE MANAGERS SET
FOR POST-SEASON MEETING
Cricket Australia's (CA) annual post-season meeting of senior umpiring personnel in Melbourne today and tomorrow is expected to review a range of operational issues that arose during the 2011-12 austral summer season, consider improvements needed across a number of areas, and address how several pressing strategic matters can be better managed. The main focus is likely to be on developing, observing and supporting those who officiate at higher-levels of the game in Australia, but many observers are keen to see the group kick-start action to improve matters related to the recruitment and retention of umpires whose career is limited to matches at league level, a CA project that has stalled over the past year (PTG 931-4530, 22 April 2012).
The gathering, which will be overseen by CA Umpire Manager Sean Cary, will include the eight State and Territory Directors of Umpiring (SDU), members of the national body's Umpire High Performance Panel (UHPP), Cary's two staff members, Umpire Educator Denis Burns and administrative assistant Sean Easy, and possibly Terry Prue the chairman of CA's playing conditions Technical Committee. The current SDUs are: Darren Goodger, New South Wales; Bob Parry, Victoria; Neil Poulton, South Australia; Mike Ralston, Queensland; Barry Rennie, Western Australia; Andy Turner, Australian Capital Territory; Richard Widows, Tasmania; and Wolfgang Woerner, Northern Territory. The UHPP members in 2011-12 were Melbourne-based Burns, David Levens and Bob Stratford, Ric Evans from Perth, and Sydney-based Peter Marshall.
RAMPRAKASH AGAIN FINED
FOR UMPIRE ABUSE
Surrey's Mark Ramprakash, who last week publicly complained about what he said was the poor state of county pitches in what has been a wet start to the English season, has been penalised for using abusive language to the umpires during his side's first class match against Worcestershire at The Oval last week. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) yesterday fined Ramprakash three points under its disciplinary system for his outburst during a match that saw all 22 players bat on the third day last Saturday.
The former England batsman, who was dismissed LBW by a 'shooter', was reported by the umpires Jeff Evans and Nigel Llong for a level one breach of the ECB disciplinary code. The ECB said in a statement that the penalty from The Oval will remain on his record for a period of two years, that he now has a total of six penalty points against his name, and the accumulation of nine or more points in any two-year period will result in an automatic suspension.
Last year, Ramprakash was suspended for a single Twenty20 match by Surrey for showing "serious dissent" after he was given out 'Obstructing the Field' in an earlier game (PTG 806-3947, 1 August 2011). He lost three ECB disciplinary points over that matter, however, he dissented again in a 'Twitter' message sent a few days later, statying that he disagreed with the decision made by the umpires, one of whom was Llong (PTG 809-3964, 4 August 2011).