• BCB nominates extra IUP TV umpire for Windies series (1013-4923).
• BCCI reported 'lukewarm' about day-night Tests (1013-4924).
• Ravi named India's 'Umpire of the Year' (1013-4925).
• Close to 1,000 replies to CA umpire survey, claim reports (1013-4925).
• 400 km umpire 'commute' gets a little easier (1013-4927).
• Long-serving journalist goes into bat for the 'doosra' (1013-4928).
• MCC video outlines World Cricket Committee ambit (1013-4929).
• Lankan Association proposing English courses for umpires (1013-4930).
1014 - 3 November [4931-4934]
• Two-match Indian exchange for Aussie umpire (1014-4931).
• Two-year campaign sees Baroda umpires win pay rise (1014-4932).
• 'Red ball snobs' will resist day-night Tests, says journalist (1014-4933).
• Ryder cited for 'bad language' (1014-4934).
1015 - 5 November [4935-4938]
• NZC initiative targeting scorer standards, retention (1015-4935).
• Klinger fined half his match fee for 'dissent' (1015-4936).
• PCB announces support for day-night Tests (1015-4937).
1016 - 7 November [4939-4942]
• New ODI rules 'too generous' for batsmen, says Lankan skipper (1016-4939).
• Jones calls for CA to appoint pitch inspector (1016-4940).
• What odds 92-year-old umpire will resume his career? (1016-4941).
• PCB plans resurrection of biomechanics lab (1016-4942).
1017 - 10 November [4943-4948]
• Rule change sees 'epidemic' of wides in Warrnambool (1017-4943).
• 'Tornado warning' stops play (1017-4944).
• Twelve years on, Court overturns Azharuddin life ban (1017-4945).
• Ryder fined for 'dissent' (1017-4946).
• Curators defend criticism of their pitches (1017-4947).
• Tahir's 'Protected Area' excursions of interest (1017-4948).
1018 - 14 November [4949-4952]
• UDRS is for 'howlers', not minute calls, says Richards (1018-4949).
• Zimbabwe names 'umpire' and 'scorer' of the year (1018-4950).
• Snakes, lizards lead to ball changes (1018-4951).
• Historic first ball six for Gayle (1018-4952).
1019 - 17 November [4953-4954]
• CA third umpire intervention policy again questioned (1019-4953).
• Australian prepares for first match in India (1019-4954).
1020 - 20 November [4945-4958]
• ICC to develop international umpire accreditation scheme (1020-4955).
• Indian skipper snipes at Ahmedabad umpiring (1020-4956).
• CA to dock Shield points for 'sub-standard' pitches? (1020-4957).
• Another coach questions CA third umpire policy (1020-4958).
1021 - 22 November [4959-4961]
• Player 'confusion' behind NZ behavioural problems, claims union chief (1020-4959).
• Team suspends player after post-dismissal dressing room damage (1020-4960).
• MCC again takes county season opener to Abu Dhabi (1020-4961).
1022 - 27 November [4962-4969]
• Batsman caught after ball 'grazes' fielder's helmet (1022-4962).
• CA considered trial of substitutes system, claims report (1022-4963).
• Delhi match rounds out Indian exchange (1022-4964).
• Wellington umpires to donate match fees to cancer appeal (1022-4965).
• TV broadcaster concerned about long review times (1022-4966).
• 'Black and White', not 'Shades of Grey', needed for 'no ball' calls, says MCC (1022-4967).
• Doctrove re-elected as Windward Islands President (1022-4968).
• NZ again hunts for 'favourite local umpire' (1022-4969).
1023 - 28 November [4970-4974]
• CA to scrap domestic third umpire intervention policy (1023-4970).
• Ranji Trophy 'less intense' than Sheffield Shield, says Fry (1023-4971).
• Indian skipper criticised for reaction to 'helmet catch' request (1023-4972).
• Work to further improve helmet safety planned (1023-4973).
1024 - 30 November [4974-4978]
• CA to look for alternative to scrapped review system (1024-4974).
• ICC web site post confirms IUP promotions for 2013 (1024-4975).
• Inzamam goes into bat for an umpire, umpiring (1024-4976).
• Eight selected for first rung of Aussie umpire pathway (1024-4977).
• MCA hearings planned on umpire assault, abuse (1024-4978).
PLAYING THE GAME
Thursday, 1 November 2012
BCB NOMINATES EXTRA IUP TV
UMPIRE FOR WINDIES SERIES
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) appears to be preparing for the possibility umpire Nadir Shah may receive a long-term ban from the game by nominating Anisur Rahman, who is not a current member of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), as a television umpire for their side's series against the West Indies Series over the next six weeks. Shah is currently being investigated by "special committee" of the BCB after 'India TV' alleged he was involved in match-related corruption (PTG 1002-4865, 11 October 2012).
A BCB press release reported by local media in Dhaka this week indicated that the "special committee" had been asked to report to the Board by the end of next week, just days before the first of the two Bangladesh-Windies Tests is due to get underway in that city. Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford and Englishman Richard Illingworth are to stand in both those matches, the latter on debut (PTG 1010-4910, 29 October 2012), Oxenford's countryman David Boon being the match referee; and the ICC web site indicates the third and fourth umpire positions for those games will come from the home Board's IUP pool.
With IUP on-field member Shah currently suspended, that leaves only his IUP on-field colleague Enamul Hoque Moni and third umpire Sharfuddoula available to fill those positions in the Tests as well as the second on-field and third umpire spots in the five One Day Internationals (ODI) the two sides are to play afterwards, a situation that appears likely to be the reason behind Rahman's nomination. Sri Lankan Ranmore Martinez has been named as the neutral umpire for the ODI series and Zimbabwean Andy Pycroft the match referee (PTG 1010-4913, 29 October 2012).
Rahmann, 41, who played 35 first class matches in Bangladesh in the first half of last decade, made his first class umpiring debut in March 2007 and has since gone on to stand in twenty-nine such matches plus nineteen List A games, five of the latter whilst on tour in South Africa with the Bangladesh A side in April last year. Over the last five years he has worked as the fourth umpire in two Tests and fourteen ODIs, but data available on line suggests his time as a third umpire is limited to three Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20 games last February.
Shah said last month that he felt "threatened" during the 'sting' in a Delhi hotel earlier this year. "I went there to complete a deal to umpire in the Sri Lanka Premier League [and] and have never participated in any sort of match-fixing", he said (PTG 1004-4877, 16 October 2012).
BCCI REPORTED 'LUKEWARM'
ABOUT DAY-NIGHT TESTS
Ratnakar Shetty, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is said by reports from Mumbai yesterday to be "lukewarm" about the concept of day-night Tests. Shetty said that having tried the day-night game in the 1997 final of India's Ranji Trophy first class competition, which he called "the first such experiment", "our experience [with it] was not so great" and at this stage the BCCI has no plans for day-night Tests.
Shetty said that during the 1997 final in Gwalior, bowlers from both sides "struggled due to the heavy evening dew and frequent changes of the white ball". Just two innings were completed in what was a five-day game with Mumbai, who made 630 batting first, being declared the winners after Delhi were dismissed for 559 on the last day. Four bowlers from each side conceded more than 100 runs apiece, their situation being made worse by fielders who were "unable to spot the ball both in the air and on the ground, especially in the outfield".
Meanwhile, Australian player Michael Hussey who took part in day-night Sheffield Shield games using yellow then orange balls in the mid-1990s at the start of his career, was quoted by 'Cricinfo' yesterday as saying that he was concerned that by starting a game in the afternoon and stretching it into night conditions would be so uneven as to imbalance the contest between bat and ball. "I'm not a fan of night Tests. I love Test match cricket how it is", he said. "I would hate a Test match to be decided by a team unluckily having to bat at the most difficult time. For me personally I would prefer to keep day Test matches".
'Cricinfo' journalist Daniel Brettig also writes about South African player Alviro Petersen, who played for Glamorgan against Kent in a hastily arranged day-night County fixture some fifteen months ago that tested pink balls made by 'Kookaburra' and 'Tiflex', and who said the balls were unable to last the 80-over distance required, losing hardness and shape (PTG 834-4075, 16 September 2012). "I think they're still having problems with finding a suitable ball", he said, for "I think we changed the ball about four times" in that match, but apart from the "cold in the evenings but it was quite enjoyable" (PTG 832-4066, 14 September 2012).
Despite those two players' concerns though, Brettig concluded his article by saying that "the players' preferences may become more problematic should television broadcasters start pressing for day-night Tests given the potential rewards in terms of audience sizes".
An alternate point of view is that of former Australian player and current national selector Rod Marsh who is quoted on the Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) web site as saying that day-night Tests should be "embraced". "Bring it on!", says Marsh, a new member of the MCC's World Cricket Committee this year (PTG 1013-4929 below), who points out that "during World Series Cricket [nearly 35 years ago] we played Supertests at night" and there is "no reason why this can't happen with Test matches today". In his view "night Test cricket would be really successful on the sub-continent and in Australia, and New Zealand and South Africa".
On Tuesday, Cricket Australia's (CA) Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said that the International Cricket Council's decision to allow day-night Test matches where the Boards of the two competing nations agree had paved the way for such games to become a reality as soon as a suitable ball can be found (PTG 1012-4921, 31 October 2012). A report on CA's web site yesterday said that posts "on its social media channels" indicate that Australian "cricket fans [are] evenly split" on the pros and cons of such fixtures. The message ended by encouraging "fans" to "be sure to have your say and keep your opinions coming in on 'Twitter' or our 'Facebook' page, a clear sign that CA's marketing department is closely watching the dialogue.
RAVI NAMED AS INDIAN
'UMPIRE OF THE YEAR'
India's Ravi Sundaram, a member of the International Cricket Council's second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), has been named as the best umpire in the domestic game on the sub-continent over the past year, says a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) media release issued yesterday. Ravi 46, is to be presented with the trophy and cheque for 50,000 Rupees ($A900) during the BCCI's annual awards ceremony in Mumbai on 21 November, an event the Board says will see "India’s top performers in international and domestic cricket [over the past year] feted".
During the past year Ravi made his One Day International debut and stood in seven first class games, two of them in England on exchange (PTG 961-4676, 13 July 2012), six domestic one-day fixtures, another six in the Under-19 World Cup in Australia (PTG 984-4776, 25 August 2012), nineteen Indian Premier League games, eleven of them on the field, and five matches in the recently completed Champions League in South Africa (PTG 1010-4911, 29 October 2012).
Ravi was appointed to India's IUP third umpire position in June last year (PTG 778-3806, 22 June 2011), but just thirteen months later in July this year he was elevated to an on-field spot (PTG 961-4674, 13 July 2012).
CLOSE TO 1,000 REPLIES TO CA
UMPIRE SURVEY, CLAIM REPORTS
Reports from several regions of Australia are suggesting that close to 1,000 people replied to the on-line survey of umpires conducted by Cricket Australia (CA) last month (PTG 1005-4866, 18 October 2012). The survey, the original of which was circulated in April last year (PTG 758-3723, 15 April 2011), was sent to umpires on CA's data base as part of moves to try and develop strategies to improve the recruitment and retention of match officials at local or club around the country.
As was the case last year, Melbourne-based independent research consultancy 'SportINFO' developed and conducted the survey for CA, however, despite problems experienced with the structure of the original version this year's edition appeared to be very similar. As yet there has been no indication as to how the data received is being collated, when the results can be expected, whether the outcomes will be made public, or what the next step in responding in a practical way to the issues raised by the umpiring community may be.
400 KM UMPIRE 'COMMUTE'
GETS A LITTLE EASIER
Gary McAulley, a Bathurst-based umpire with the New South Wales Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association (NSWCUSA), is a fan of the new faster rail service between his home base and Sydney as it makes it a little easier for him to make the 400 km round-trip to stand in the Sydney grade cricket competition each weekend, says a story in Bathurst's 'Western Advocate' newspaper on Monday.
McAulley, who doesn’t drive and relies on public transport to meet his commitments, told the 'Advocate' that prior to the new service being introduced the train timetable was such that he had to travel down to Sydney on Friday in order to get to the ground in time for his match the following day, then stay in the NSW capital until late Sunday afternoon. Now he "can jump on the train [in Bathurst on Saturday] and get into [Sydney] just after 11 a.m." in time for him to arrive at the third and fourth grade matches he stands in, for "they don’t start until 12.15 p.m". That will at least save him the cost of Friday night's accommodation but he still has to stay in Sydney on the Saturday night.
Mal Campbell, another Bathurst-based NSWCUSA umpire who has been travelling the 400 km to-and-from Sydney to umpire for the past ten years, told the 'Advocate that "he'll "certainly jump on the train when it fits in with my schedule".
LONG-SERVING JOURNALIST GOES
INTO BAT FOR THE 'DOOSRA'
Long serving Brisbane 'Courier Mail' journalist Robert Craddock says that Cricket Australia's (CA) John Inverarity's claim that the 'doosra' was "a question of integrity" for CA is "the most bewildering comment he has made" since taking his current position as the chairman of the national selection committee. Late last week, Inverarity said in answer to a question put to him at an Australian Cricket Society lunch, that CA should not be tempted to encourage spinners to bowl with actions that would push the International Cricket Council's "15-degree threshold" (PTG 1009-4904, 27 October 2012).
Craddock, who has covered over 150 Tests over the last two decades, says that "just over two years ago then CA Centre of Excellence coach Greg Chappell flew Pakistani spinner Saqlain Mushtaq from England to the nets in Brisbane to show Australia's up-and-coming spinners how to bowl the 'doosra', the delivery which looks like an off-spinner but turns the other way". "It was one of the more uplifting and enlightening net sessions of recent times", says the journalist, and those present "liked his sage words so much they were taped and put up on [CA's] website", however, in his view Inverarity's comment means that "suddenly the dream is over" and Mushtaq's visit "now counts for nothing".
According to Craddock the national selector's choice of words was "strange", "especially given Australia's spin bowling stocks are [so] shallow". Three exceptional spinners, Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka), Sunil Narine (West Indies) and Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan), "are doing clever things with the 'doosra' and they are doing it legally, just as Johnny Gleeson did for Australia in the 1970s", he writes. He quotes former Australian captain Allan Border as saying last year that "you might as well use all 15 degrees [that your arm is allowed to bend] at your disposal" and "why can't we learn the doosra?"
"It's a shame" Inverarity was not in Brisbane "to hear Saqlain preach his simple mantra" that "you too can bowl the 'doosra' [for] you don't have to be a double-jointed freak and you can certainly bowl it within the 15 per cent of bent-armed tolerance", says Craddock. "Saqlain's prized exhibit was himself", he continues, for he "was a beautiful bowler and a legal one". He points to his "effort to bamboozle Australia's top order in a Test in Hobart [in November 1999] during the prime of his career [as] one of the most exquisite exhibitions of slow bowling ever seen on Australian soil, Shane Warne included", a display that saw him take 8/176 off 69 overs.
Craddock quoted Saqlain as telling him that "everyone can bowl the 'doosra' but you have to work on cocking your wrists, on your field, your mind, foot position, and accepting you will be sore in different places than usual". "God gave me the 'doosra', then I worked it out myself", continued Saqlain, for he "used to play by myself next to the wall with a table tennis ball, working with the fingers [and playing] with different grips". "If you are practising properly and you know what you are doing, everyone can bowl it [as it's] about the practice", said Saqlain.
Reacting to Inverarity's comments South African spinner Johan Botha said he believes the 'doosra' should be encouraged. "It would be a shame for any directive to ban the 'doosra' from coaching manuals [for] if you can bowl it legally, definitely go for it [as it's] good to have some variation in a game", he said (PTG 1010-4915, 29 October 2012).
MCC VIDEO OUTLINES WORLD
CRICKET COMMITTEE AMBIT
A new video produced by the Marylebone Cricket Club that is now available on line "goes behind the scenes" to look at the work of the club's World Cricket Committee (WCC). The video features comments by a number of committee's seventeen members, most of who played the game at the highest level, the chairman of the group former England captain Mike Brearley saying "you see people talking and interacting, which you don’t often get from press conferences and our other public interactions".
Brearley also said that he was "pleased to announce that the next [WCC] meeting will take place in New Zealand next February". "Amongst the aims of our committee" he continues, "is to visit the main cricket playing countries, and New Zealand is one which we are yet to experience". "It’s the perfect opportunity with England playing there early [next year for] generally, we look to combine meetings with some ongoing international cricket, partly because many of our members are also involved with the media and also to ensure we can easily communicate our discussions to the public".
LANKAN ASSOCIATION PROPOSES
ENGLISH COURSES FOR UMPIRES
Sri Lanka's Southern Province Cricket Umpires Association (SPCUA) has asked Sri Lanka Cricket for its support to conduct a six-month training course in spoken English, according to the island nation's 'Sunday Observer' newspaper. Journalist Priyan de Silva says that as the Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) Laws are written in English "it is essential that the umpires who are responsible for [interpreting them during games] should be conversant in the language in which they were written".
The SPCUA has proposed that Mahil Liyanage "who was a first class umpire way back in 2002-3 and has followed the Innovative English Teaching Diploma conducted by the British Council", be contracted to conduct the course. He is said to be proposing to conduct weekly classes of two-to-three hours in duration for groups of 12-15 in the cities of Ambalangoda, Galle, Matara and Hambantota, and is apparently "confident that it would be possible for a student to be able to converse fluently in English" after 24 sessions.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India was reported in September to have requested its senior umpires "who can’t converse in English" to attend English classes at good institutes and produce the certificate after completing the course" (PTG 988-4799, 4 September 2012). Copies of the Laws are currently available on the MCC's web site in: Bahasa, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Gujarati (PTG 774-3791, 15 June 2011), Italian, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish, while the 'Preamble to the Laws' can be read in Slovenian.
PLAYING THE GAME
Saturday, 3 November 2012
TWO-MATCH INDIAN EXCHANGE
VISIT FOR AUSSIE UMPIRE
Australian umpire Simon Fry is to stand in two first class matches on the sub-continent during the last half of this month, according to separate reports received from Hyderabad and Mumbai over the last few days. Fry's visit, which is part of a so far unannounced umpire exchange agreement between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), will occur after BCCI umpire Vineet Kulkarni returns to India from his visit to Australia (PTG 1005-4882, 18 October 2012).
Kulkarni is currently standing in a Sheffield Shield first class fixture at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with CA National Umpire Panel (NUP) member Paul Wilson (PTG 1009-4906, 27 October 2012), and will be on the field with Fry in a second such game that starts in Hobart next Friday. Adelaide-based Fry, 46, is to be appointed to two as yet unidentified Ranji Trophy games in India that start on the last two Saturdays of this month, although just which of the sixteen first class games that will commence on each of those days he has been assigned to is unclear at this stage.
Fry, who made his first class debut in January 2002 is currently in his eighth season with the NUP, and there are indications he has recently been promoted to an on-field position in Australia's section of the International Cricket Council's second-tier International Umpires Panel (PTG 110-4907, 27 October 2012).
CA has previously sent him to New Zealand, in November 2010, and South Africa five months after that, to work in first class games as part of exchange agreements it has with the Boards of those countries. His games in India will be his 61st 62nd at first class level, a record that includes the last three Sheffield Shield finals.
There are also indications that Wilson is to stand in single first class and Twenty20 matches in New Zealand early next month as part of CA's exchange program with New Zealand Cricket; Kiwi umpire Derek Walker being scheduled for first class and one-day games in Canberra later this month. If the pattern of the last few years is any guide, Wilson is also likely to be send to South Africa in March for two first class games there, an umpire from that country travelling in the other direction perhaps sometime soon.
TWO-YEAR CAMPAIGN SEES
BARODA UMPIRES WIN PAY RISE
A two-year campaign by umpires has resulted in the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) agreeing to increase the fees of those who stand in its local matches, says a report in the 'Times of India' (TOI) yesterday. The BCA is yet to decide just what its new fee structure will be, but currently it pays its officials 500 Rupees ($A9) per day, while in comparison its Gujarat counterpart's figure is 600 Rupees ($A11) plus allowances, and that of the Rajkot Cricket Association 900 Rupees ($A16) plus allowances; the average annual wage in India in 2012 being put at 67,000 Rupees ($A1,220).
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a BCA umpire told the 'TOI' on Thursday that he and his colleagues had been unhappy with their remuneration for some time and that "umpires are an important part of matches and we deserve better fees". He pointed out that the current 500 Rupee fee is poor "when compared to the money BCA pays to other employees on its books such as coaches, pitch curators, selectors and even groundsmen". "Umpiring is a tough job as we have to stand all day under the sun and remain focused all the time", he said, and "it's a laborious task and umpires cannot afford to make mistakes on field".
BCA management is said to have formed a three-member committee to look into the demands being made by the umpires last year. It reportedly studied the fees paid in other associations and made recommendations to BCA a month or so ago.
Sanjay Patel, the BCA's secretary, told the 'TOI' that "we have recommendations from the committee and are considering them [and] we will hike the fees in a way that it will support the umpires financially", for "the idea is to give them a sustainable income". He went on the indicate though that he expects the new fee structure to reflect an umpire's "experience and caliber". Patel also said "we want to offer a fee structure that would attract quality young umpires to the Association".
Meanwhile, the BCA is said to have "stopped giving" matches to two of its umpires who "have come under the scanner" because of allegations of corruption. The Association has established a committee and it is said to be looking into "a number of matches" the pair have umpired in the past. Last month a BCA scorer was reported to have lodged a complain about a player who offered him a bribe, and there were also separate claims that some umpires there were behaving in a "suspicious manner" and that they "might be involved in shady deals with players" (PTG 1006-4888, 19 October 2012).
'RED BALL SNOBS' WILL RESIST
DAY-NIGHT TESTS, SAYS JOURNALIST
Long-serving Australian journalist Malcolm Conn believes that "red ball snobs tried to kill cricket" in the 1970s when they opposed World Series Cricket (WSC), and will "damage the game again if they resist day-night Tests". According to an article Conn wrote for Sydney's 'Daily Telegraph' yesterday after news of the possibility of such games had surfaced again earlier in the week (PTG 1010-4921, 31 October 2012), "blinkered cricket traditionalists mightn't like it, but most fans want their sport at night".
"Professional international sport is all about the masses, attracting as many fans as possible at the ground and on television to keep the game strong in the face of ever greater challenges from the various football codes in particular", says Conn, and "claiming that a ball can’t be developed to last 80 overs and be visible at night goes into the 'space flight is impossible' category" that applied up until the middle of last Century. "If Ernest Rutherford could split the atom in 1917 and Neil Armstrong walk on the moon more than 40 years ago, how is it that Test cricket is still allergic to moonlight?", he asks.
Conn says "Test cricket is wonderful, a game of intriguing plots and subplots rich in character and built on more than 100 years of glorious history" and it has its "heroes and villains, triumphs and tragedies, an ageless drama set against sunny summer skies". "Except", he continues, "most people don’t get to watch Test cricket most of the time because they’re at work or at school until the pinnacle of Boxing Day in Melbourne and New Year’s in Sydney, when the Test summer is almost over".
"If a different ball is developed and [players] are forced to adapt to batting through twilight" they "can’t get precious about [such] changing conditions" for "they put on the show, they don’t run it", for with "the average Australian cricketer now earning more than $A1 million a year", they just have to get on with it, says Conn. "That’s a million or more reasons to put on a show when most people can watch it", a situation that could in turn "see players receive even greater earnings", he says. Several current day players have expressed their doubts about day-night Tests and the Board of Control for Cricket in India is said to be "lukewarm" to the concept (PTG 1013-4924, 1 November 2012).
But the times are changing says Conn and the world has to change with them. He points to the fact that "crowds are "dropping for One Day Internationals, particularly in Melbourne", and that Cricket Australia's revamped Twenty20 competition is "attracting a new generation" with last austral summer seeing "almost a doubling of crowds and pay television ratings" for that series. "Those who complain about this new fun game are as miserable and short-sighted as the moaners who complained about [WSC] a generation or two ago", he says.
A poll that is operating on the 'Daily Telegraph' web site asking for people to vote on whether that like the day-night Test concept or not has drawn some 700 votes to date, close to two-thirds of those who made their views known supporting the idea.
RYDER CITED FOR 'BAD LANUGUAGE'
Despite scoring centuries in both innings of this week's Plunket Shield match between Wellington and Central Districts in Napier, former New Zealand Jesse Ryder is in trouble in his first match at first class level since receiving a reprimand following his last such fixture in March (PTG 956-4649, 3 July 2012). New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White confirmed Ryder had been cited for using bad language, but told journalists that "the hearing has not been held and there is a 72-hour appeal process so I can't say any more".
Reports from the match say Ryder "became frustrated" during Central's second innings "when a leg before decision off his bowling against Kruger van Wyk was declined". Ryder is said to have made "comments over several overs about the decision" and eventually umpires Evan Watkin and Chris Gaffaney "tired of his behaviour and took action".
Ryder's manager Aaron Klee said that like White he, too, was restricted in what he could say but he is said to have given the impression the offence was "at the minor end of the scale", says reports, "which generally results in a fine rather than a ban". Klee apparently told journalists that because Ryder is "an emotional individual" he should be cut some slack by everyone.
"People have to accept Jesse isn't going to be a saint", continued Kee, but "his doing a lot of good things and you are going to get brilliant performances [such as his two centuries this week] and you are going to get road bumps", something "I came to appreciate a long time ago". "He isn't your typical white collar, middle class cricketer", said the manager, for while "he bangs a brilliant hundred to win the game for Wellington, you know somewhere down the track some other things won't go so well".
Klee says he is proud of Ryder, "both on the park and off it", for the player has not had a drink since March and is enjoying being away from the spotlight and playing for Wellington. He denied discussions were going on about fast-tracking Ryder back into the New Zealand side for the December-January tour to South Africa. Our "plan is to have a good consistent summer of domestic cricket and to let Jesse build his enthusiasm and passion again and nothing has changed", he said.
NZC INITIATIVE TARGETING SCORER
New Zealand Cricket's (NZC) strategy for scoring and scorers, which was first drafted two years ago, has been formalised into a four-year strategic plan whose key objective is to ensure "world class scorers" are available for all World Cup matches played there in 2015, says the NZC's 2011-12 Annual Report. The plan for scorers is said to focus on four main areas: retention and recruitment, training, certification, and career pathway.
According to the Annual Report, which was released last week, a record 292 matches were "live scored" via NZC's web site during the 2011-12 season, and "a key new initiative [linked to the strategic plan] was the appointment of one scorer from outside Canterbury to [the six] women’s international matches [played in] Lincoln"; a move that "enabled some scorers [from elsewhere] to be involved in their first games at this level".
In addition, the "Tournament Scorers Program" arrangement was again in operation with sixteen scorers, four more than the previous year, involved across the NZC's national women’s Under-21, men’s Under-18 and men’s Provincial A national tournaments. The Annual Report also mentions the establishment by the New Zealand Cricket Umpires’ and Scorers’ Association (NZCUSA) of the ‘Scorer of the Year’ award, the inaugural trophy being won by Otago's Helen Simpson (PTG 992-4817, 18 September 2012).
A total of twenty-seven scorers have been named to record the details of the thirty domestic first class matches that are to be played across the country during the 2012-13 austral summer, and an additional eleven in either one-day or Twenty20 senior fixtures.
On the domestic umpiring front the NZC says that "performances domestically remained steady". "Umpiring is now closely scrutinised from all quarters, with players demanding high levels of performance in all formats of the game", it says, "consequently, umpires are continuously challenged to seek the highest levels of accuracy in all decision making".
However, on a note that is familiar around the world, the NZC report says that "is unfortunate to note that the [NZCUSA] reports that active umpire numbers have fallen in the past year in five of the [country's] six [cricket playing] regions". "NZCUSA is not alone in this downturn in involvement in officiating", says the report, "but the trend needs to be addressed with urgency against a very challenging societal background of increased commercial, social and personal demands".
While match official numbers may be falling, NZC says that its "annual player census confirmed that cricket is continuing to grow with participation reaching a new high of 111,829 people playing cricket across all levels" in 2011-12.
KLINGER FINED HALF HIS
MATCH FEE FOR 'DISSENT'
South Australian batsman Michael Klinger has been fined half of his match fee for showing dissent at an umpire's decision on what turned out to be the final day of his side's Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania in Hobart on Saturday.
The fine arose after South Australia side appealed for a low catch, however, a 'not out' call was made as the judgement was that the ball had bounced on the way to the fielder's hands, but Klinger is said to have reacted by displaying what is being described as "inappropriate behaviour'' towards the umpire.
As it was Klinger's second Level 1 offence in eighteen months the charge laid against him by umpires Ian Lock and Sam Nogaksji was automatically heard in front of Cricket Australia code of behaviour commissioner Tony Daly. Klinger pleaded guilty to the charge and Daly handed down the fine.
Klinger received a reprimand a year ago for showing dissent towards an umpire during a Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia. He was said then to have been "upset" that an appeal made whilst his side were fielding was turned down (PTG 852-4164, 30 October 2011).
PCB ANNOUNCES SUPPORT
FOR DAY-NIGHT TESTS
A meeting of the Pakistan Cricket Board's Executive Coordination Committee last Thursday gave their support to playing day-night Tests, as in their view the concept would increase the “product value” of such matches. Last week Cricket Australia also welcomed the concept provided a suitable ball can be found (PTG 1012-4921, 31 October 2012), however, the Board of Control for Cricket in India were not quite so effusive about the idea (PTG 1013-4924, 1 November 2012).
Pakistan have experimented with the day-night first class cricket on two occasions to date, staging the final of its Quaid-e-Azam trophy in that format over the last two years (PTG 876-4283, 22 December 2011). Pink balls were used in last December's final and an orange-coloured variety in the inaugural day-night final almost twelve months before that (PTG 714-3496, 14 January 2011).
Reports in the past have suggested that the captains, umpires, referee and television broadcaster involved in those games have been positive about the visibility of the balls used.
ECB 'OSCA' FOR LONG-SERVING
English umpire Lorraine Elgar was presented with the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) 2012 'Outstanding Service to Cricket Award' (OSCA) for match officials at a ceremony held at Lord's last Monday. The OSCA's, which are in their tenth year and are made up of eight categories, one of which covers "umpires and scorers", are designed to recognise what the ECB says are "the tireless efforts of [the game's] grass-roots volunteers".
Kent-based Elgar, 52, who was chosen from a shortlist of three, said that winning the award "was totally overwhelming [as] I didn’t think I would win". The ECB says that the award is "recognition for a passion for the game which goes back to her childhood when she went to matches with her father", and later led to her becoming his club's scorer and secretary because “she was the one with a typewriter”.
Her first taste of umpiring came about by chance when "one day the umpire didn’t turn up because he had gout [so] they threw me in and I haven’t looked back since". Since then she has gone on to stand in three women's Tests, eight One Day Internationals, one of them at Lord's, and the first ever Twenty20 International played in England, between the women's sides from England and Australia.
On the domestic scene Elgar has stood in a total of fourteen Minor County three-day and five one-day games, as well as four County Second XI three-day and four one-day fixtures. She has also looked after matches in the Kent, Middlesex and Surrey Premier League competitions. Elgar has also been heavily involved with disability and visually impaired cricket. “I think it’s great to see so many people being able to participate in the sport we know and love", she says.
The Sittingbourne-based umpire also trains umpires and encourages other women to follow in her footsteps and take up officiating roles that, in the ECB's words, "are still dominated by men", and she currently heads up a group who aim is to increase female participation in umpiring and scoring.
Amongst those who were present at the OSCA's ceremony were England players Andrew Strauss, Jonny Bairstow, Charlotte Edwards, Michael Vaughan and Mike Gatting.
NEW ODI RULES 'TOO GENEROUS' FOR
BATSMAN, SAYS LANKAN SKIPPER
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is concerned that the new One Day International (ODI) Playing Conditions regarding field restrictions could ruin the game for bowlers, especially spinners. Even though he is a batsman Jayawardene believes limited-overs cricket is becoming too generous for batsmen and he supports that view by also pointing to the provision of a 'free hit' to batsmen after a bowler delivers a foot fault no-ball; although he may be even more convinced if he knew Cricket Australia now awards free hits for any kind of 'no ball' at senior domestic level (PTG 993-4825, 19 September 2012).
Under changes announced by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last week (PTG 1011-4916, 30 October 2012), ODIs will now see two, instead of the previous three, blocks of Powerplays with three fielders being allowed outside the fielding restriction area at the time of delivery, and only four when fielding restriction overs are not underway.
Speaking after playing the first ODI played under the new conditions in Pallekele last Thursday, Jayawardene said he thinks the changes are not in the best interests of the sport. "I am not comfortable with these changes" he said, for "I have this funny feeling that spinners will not have a role to play in the future", especially as separate balls are being used from either end, a fact that "hinders spinners' grip to extract turn"; interesting comments given that Sri Lanka has often relied on spin bowling to win matches.
Meanwhile, 'PTG' understands that in the case of 'Finn' broken wicket situations in the international game, what are being called "guidelines" have been provided to ICC umpires on how to deal with such situations should they arise. Those guidelines, the details of which have for some unfathomable reason not been made public, will apparently be discussed and explained to all the sides in the pre-series meetings match referees conduct with the respective team captains and coaches.
Six weeks ago indications were that in internationals a single warning would apply after which any repeats would see 'dead ball' called (PTG 991-4814, 16 September 2012), but later the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was said by some to favour a one warning then a 'no ball' call for any repetition (PTG 999-4854, 4 October 2012). The former approach penalised the batting side as they lost any runs scored off such balls, but the latter method means that such runs would be retained and the bowling side penalised.
JONES CALLS FOR CA TO
APPOINT PITCH INSPECTOR
Former Australian batsman Dean Jones says that country's State sides should be docked Sheffield Shield points if they produce sub-standard pitches, and that Cricket Australia (CA) should appoint a pitch inspector to ensure the "right balance" of playing conditions are being provided. Jones comments came as CA's high performance manager Pat Howard and Test captain Michael Clarke insisted that the integrity of the Shield competition has not been compromised by the replacement of injured Test players who were taking part in domestic first class games over the last week.
Adam Cooper, a journalist with the Melbourne newspaper 'The Age', says that Jones was in Hobart late last week and saw a grassed wicket at Bellerive Oval "that made life tough" in the match between Tasmania and South Australia. That game, which saw Australian players Ed Cowan, Ricky Ponting and Nathan Lyon have "little impact in their last game before the first Test against South Africa" which starts in Brisbane on Friday, was completed in less than three days.
Jones is said to have called the Bellerive wicket sub-standard and indicated that pitches in Brisbane and Perth this season were also failing to "help encourage young batsmen, skippers to make decent declarations and aspiring spinners to get overs into their games". He asked if it was "fair for Ponting and Cowan to go back and play for Tasmania when that pitch had grass on it that was six or seven millimetres long?'', and that ''they'd be better off playing for their club sides". The pitch inspector Jones mentions should in his view have "the power to strip sides of [Sheffield Shield match] points if [pitch] conditions were lacking".
In other Sheffield Shield news, Ponting was pulled out of the Bellerive match and replaced in the side after complaining of hamstring soreness despite reportedly wanting to continue, while Shane Watson aggravated an injury while batting for NSW against Queensland on Saturday but could not be replaced. NSW is said to have argued that if Ponting could be replaced so could Watson, but their case was apparently rejected "as per the Shield regulations" says Howard on the grounds that while Ponting wanted to continue, Watson could not.
Several press reports claim that "never before" has the Australian Test side been prioritised quite to this extent over the integrity of the Shield competition, but both Howard and Clarke rejected the suggestion that what one reported called the "tinkering around the edges" threatened to undermine Australia's top home competition. "I think we always have the best interests of cricket at heart", said Clarke.
But noted writer Gideon Haigh described the issues surrounding State team composition in recent days as "jiggery-pokery" and "a peculiar business" in a blog posted on 'The Australian' newspaper's web site yesterday. Haigh asks "since when have a player’s preferences been factored into the conduct of a first-class cricket match?" "Ponting was not even injured as such; he was replaced on the precautionary principle, which may often be invoked in debates around climate change but certainly doesn’t form part of the Laws of Cricket", he says.
WHAT ODDS 92-YEAR-OLD UMPIRE
WILL RESUME HIS CAREER?
A 92-year-old umpire in England who was forced to retire because he is no longer covered by insurance, may get a chance to return to the game after a major Irish betting firm offered to cover the additional costs required for him to obtain an appropriate level of risk cover. Charles Fenton, who has stood in Derbyshire and Cheshire Cricket League games for more than 61 years, had to cease umpiring when it was discovered the league’s insurance policy only covered its members up to the age of 85 (PTG 1008-4901, 25 October 2012).
A spokesperson for the betting firm is quoted as saying the situation Fenton found himself in was "just not cricket [and] we were happy to bail him out". Fenton, who has indicated that he has "perfect eyesight", doesn't wear a hearing aid, is in "good health" and "can stand for seven hours", called the firm's offer "very generous". He has not yet indicated, however, whether he plans to return to the field next northern summer, and somewhat surprisingly the betting company is yet to offer odds on whether it will occur or not.
PCB PLANS RESURRECTION
OF BIOMECHANICS LAB
Biomechanical equipment purchased by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) several years ago for analysing bowling actions that has remained unused for the last few years, is to be refurbished and updated, say reports from the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore. When the work is completed the equipment, which was purchased in 2008 for what is said to have been 44 million Rupees ($A440K) and consists of eighteen cameras and other devices plus software, the PCB will have what is thought to be only laboratory of its kind for cricket in Asia, says Cricinfo.
Intikhab Alam, the PCB's Director of Academies, told Cricinfo that "We are very enthusiastic about technology and keen to see the biomechanics lab functioning as soon as possible" and are "in no doubt about its scope and execution in research and for the development of the game". "We look forward to [helping] bowlers correct their flawed actions but can also help batsmen to enhance their performance [and] it can also prevent injuries and be used for rehabilitation process". Alam is reported to have indicated that the equipment is in good shape although the software needed some upgrading, and the appointment of a biomechanics expert is anticipated in the near future.
PLAYING THE GAME
Saturday, 10 November 2012
RULE CHANGE SEES 'EPIDEMIC'
OF WIDES IN WARRNAMBOOL
A total of 98 extra overs have been bowled across games in the first three weeks of this season's Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) competition in south-west Victoria because of stricter bowling rules, says a story in yesterday's 'Warrnambool Standard' newspaper. WDCA umpires have called 'wide' 585 times, an average of 34 in each of the 17, 45-over, matches played up until last weekend, whereas in the same period last year 400 'wides' were called at an average of 27 a match.
'Standard' journalist Greg Best writes that the "epidemic" of 'wide' balls dates back to the WDCA's decision to adopt, prior to the start of last austral summer, "stricter rules for wides in one-day games similar to those enforced at international level where any delivery down leg-side missed by a batsman has to be re-bowled". In fact WDCA Playing Conditions available on line require umpires to apply Cricket Australia rules with regard to wides that involve a leg side 'no wide' corridor that extends 30 cm from the middle stump (PTG 668-3281, 16 September 2010), but there is no mention of the 43 cm 'tram lines' for off side wides that are used in internationals.
Woodford coach John Houston said the idea behind the Association's move was to lift the quality of the bowling there, however, it appears that hasn't worked as yet. “From a player’s perspective it is disappointing our bowlers aren’t accurate enough to bowl more in the right area", said Houston, and “I think we have to improve our coaching at all levels". Houston said that the umpires "are getting it right" with the calls they are making, but at the same time indicated he thinks umpires "relaxed their interpretation of the rules in the second and third rounds" because of the spate of 'wide' calls.
But Mick Rantall, a long-serving senior WDCA player, called the umpires' approach "very, very stringent". “It is the most stringent I’ve ever seen it in over 25 years [as] anything down leg side at all they call wide, even balls a batter should hit, [but] the depth of the bowlers isn’t there to what it has been and I think the umpires are too harsh". Another "senior cricketing source" is said to have told the 'Standard' that he believed the rules were too strict "and needed tweaking for next season". “We are trying to hold our cricketers to a higher standard that they are not up too", he said.
East Warrnambool-YCW's coach Dan Oakley said the number of 'wides' so far this season seemed high, however, in his view "the umpires call it as they see it". "They have to interpret the rules, not make them", he said, but "balls going down leg side by 'one or two inches' shouldn’t be wides". "The ones down leg side only one or two inches outside, good batsmen should be clipping them off the hip, [however], when it is getting six, seven, eight inches outside they are wide". Oakley said if the 'wide' definition was eased slightly it would speed up the game but not limit a batsman’s scoring opportunities, although he conceded that bowlers needed to improve, saying they "could probably get their line a bit better and help their captains set fields".
The round three match between Nirranda and Oakley's side included a total of 51 deliveries that were called 'wide', the highest in a game so far this season, a situation that meant almost nine extra overs had to be bowled in that fixture because of inaccuracy. The lowest number recorded in the season to date was 26, while in another match one senior umpire called seven wides in a single six-ball over. Despite all that coach Michael Walsh from Merrivale said the restrictions meant bowlers couldn’t deny batsmen scoring opportunities and "that is a positive thing". He has what he called a simple solution to the issue, saying that "my boys know if you bowl down leg side you are off".
'TORNADO WARNING' STOPS PLAY
No play was possible on the first day's play in the Sheffield Shield match between Tasmania and Queensland in Hobart yesterday after a severe weather warning was issued by the local office of the Bureau of Meteorology just as play was about to begin. The toss was completed on time, but soon afterwards news of a severe thunderstorm warning for southeast Tasmania came through that talked of destructive winds, heavy rainfall, large hailstones and tornadoes.
A number of significant storms moved across the Hobart area during the late morning and early afternoon, with some places experiencing destructive winds and heavy rainfall. There were concerns about flash flooding and mini tornadoes, several weak versions of the latter beng seen within 5-10 km of Bellerive Oval, but no major damage was reported, however, conditions at the ground itself are said to have been limited to a small amount of drizzle.
Media reports say that there were periods of sunshine at the ground but "officials appeared to be concerned about the predicted bad weather closing in". At one stage Cricket Tasmania tweeted: ``Lots of rain on the radar so play not looking likely for quite some time''. Showers did arrive in the afternoon and play was eventually abandoned for the day by umpires Simon Fry and Vineet Kulkarni and match referee Denis Burns about forty minutes before normal stumps.
"Tornadoes are not that unusual [in Hobart], but it is unusual they are seen and photographed as they have been today", said a Bureau forecaster. Hail, some of it around two centimetres in size, blanketed some Hobart suburbs, a number of club grounds in the area being affected; a situation that later led to several Cricket Tasmania Premier League Twenty20 matches scheduled for today being cancelled.
TWELVE YEARS ON, COURT OVERTURNS
AZHARUDDIN LIFE BAN
A court in India has overturned a life ban imposed on former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) twelve years ago. The High Court in Andhra Pradesh ruled that Azharuddin, now 49, who was banned from playing all forms of cricket as a result of match fixing claims made against him, had been subjected to what they termed "illegal and unsustainable" allegations.
Senior BCCI official Rajiv Shukla told journalists that the Board would "study and analyse" the judgement, before taking a decision on whether the ban would be revoked. Azharuddin, who is now a Member of the Indian Parliament, reminded a news conference that he has been fighting to clear his name and that he was "relieved" to hear of the High Court's ruling, but denied one report that the BCCI had "lifted the ban on me in 2006".
Asked about his future Azharuddin said he has "no desire to play cricket again". "I've not played cricket for a long time, so playing is no longer on the cards", however, "I am interested in doing something in cricket [and] want to help young cricketers with my experience".
RYDER FINED FOR 'DISSENT'
Wellington batsman Jesse Ryder has been fined $NZ750 ($A590) for showing dissent towards umpires Evan Watkin and Chris Gaffaney during a Plunket Shield match for against Central Districts in Napier last week. New Zealand Cricket (NZC) confirmed yesterday that Ryder had been fined for using language that was "offensive and insulting to the umpires" after having an appeal for LBW off his own bowling turned down (PTG 1014-4934, 3 November 2012).
Ryder's manager Aaron Klee said last week that "people have to accept Jesse isn't going to be a saint" but "he is "doing a lot of good things and you are going to get brilliant performances and you are going to get road bumps", something "I came to appreciate a long time ago". "He isn't your typical white collar, middle class cricketer", said the manager, for while "he bangs a brilliant hundred to win the game for Wellington, you know somewhere down the track some other things won't go so well".
The fine soured what was a comeback to first class cricket for Ryder who scored 117 not out and 174 in the match. His form has continued for last night he struck a match-winning 90 not out from 57 deliveries for Wellington in a Twenty20 match.
CURATORS DEFEND CRITICISM
OF THEIR PITCHES
Curators in Brisbane and Hobart have defended the pitches that have been provided for early season Sheffield Shield games in Australia over the last few weeks. South Australian coach Darren Berry, Tasmanian captain George Bailey, plus current and former Australian batsman Mike Hussey and Dean Jones, have all expressed concerns about what they see as the "green seaming" pitches provided for domestic matches recently, national coach Mickey Arthur indicating the situation "is being addressed at a higher level"; but the earlier than normal start to the season is also a factor say others.
Bellerive Oval curator Marcus Pamplin told the local newspaper 'The Mercury' on Thursday that the pitch provided for last week's Sheffield Shield match there between Tasmania and South Australia was "an aberration caused by weather conditions and a brand new [playing surface]". Berry, Bailey and Jones all said the pitch was not a fair contest between bat and ball, the four-day match being completed in less than three days (PTG 1016-4940, 7 November 2012).
Pamplin told journalist Brett Stubbs it was the first use of the pitch after the ground's $A450,000 resurface and alterations to the centre square. "We've put in over 70 cubic metres of soil over the whole table so it might be a little bit of short-term pain but [it's] going to be so much better in the long run", he said. According to him weather conditions were the biggest factor for that game, the first two days being quite overcast and the temperature only getting to 15 degrees Centigrade, the covers being on longer than normal.
Queensland and New South Wales players are said to have been "given a challenging surface" for their Shield match at Brisbane's Allan Border Field, while the pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the game between Victoria and Western Australia was seen as offering plenty for the faster bowlers. But Curator at the 'Gabba' in Brisbane, Kevin Mitchell Jr, told journalists that he "thinks there's a lot of assumptions about [the situation] from people who aren't actually at game[s]". "I think they probably should read some of the match referee and captains' reports and then make their mind up after that", he continued, as a lot of the comments being made publicly are in his view "a bit unfair".
But getting wickets absolutely perfect every time is not easy, says former Australian captain Ricky Ponting. "We have to remember that we started a month earlier than [normal and] you can probably understand that some of the wickets might be slightly underdone and underprepared"; and he also made mention of the relaid surface at Bellerive.
However, Berry believes that "result" pitches have been an issue for a number of seasons, with all the matches at Bellerive, the WACA in Perth and the Gabba last season providing outright wins. "States are looking to get results", says Berry, and it's "no coincidence" that Queensland and Tasmania played in the Shield final last season as all of the games played on their pitches finished in with outright wins.
TAHIR'S 'PROTECTED AREA'
EXCURSIONS OF INTEREST
Brisbane's 'Courier-Mail' says that South African spinner Imran Tahir has been warned a number of times over the last year for running into the Protected Area in his follow through. During last November's second Test against Australia in Johannesburg, English umpire Ian Gould is said to have "issued two warnings" to Tahir in the closing overs of that match, and the newspaper says that his approach to the issue during his side's current tour of Australia will be of interest.
Six months before, the Pakistan-born spinner also received an initial 'caution' from Australian umpire Simon Taufel for the same offence in Delhi in a match against the West Indies during the 2011 World Cup. Reports at the time suggested that Taufel started the official process after giving Tahir a "friendly" in what was his debut in a One Day International. The 33-year-old leg spinner was not included in the South African side for the first Test against Australia that got underway in Brisbane yesterday.
Under Law 42.12 a bowler running into the Protected Area receives a 'caution' the first time it happens, a 'final warning' for a second such offence, and is taken out of the attack for the duration of the innings for a third such breach.
PLAYING THE GAME
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
UDRS IS FOR 'HOWLERS', NOT MINUTE
CALLS, SAYS RICHARDS
Former South African batsman Barry Richards believes the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) is creating more problems that it is solving and is of the view that the game is striving to be too perfect for its own good. Richards' comments, made after a number of UDRS-related controversies during the first Test between Australia and South Africa in Brisbane, came as Ian Taylor, the chief executive of company that provides the 'Virtual Eye' ball tracking package, called the way the International Cricket Council utilises such systems as "a joke".
Central to the now Perth-based South African's concerns were the small margins that are being applied to UDRS data in deciding whether a batsman is out or not, particularly in the case of LBWs. The UDRS "was designed to stop the howlers such as a big edge onto the pads", but when it comes to millimetre-sized tolerances it "is not an exact art" and "I think at times we get locked away in trying to make it [so]", he says. Such minute situations also "stop the flow of the game" and in that circumstance the initial umpire's call should be allowed to stand.
Taylor, chief executive of New Zealand company Animation Research Ltd. (ARL) expressed similar views saying that the UDRS is "meant to only find those mistakes that are so wrong everybody saw them". "There are times when the technology can get it wrong and at the moment there are more chances of that [happening where the ICC] don't have protocols", he said. Earlier this year after similar controversies, Taylor emphasised his company's opposition to using their technology for the fine-scale decisions (PTG 914-4443, 13 March 2012), and as far back as the very first UDRS trial in a Test in 2008, ARL's Operations Manager Troy McNeill was quoted as saying that he had "some reservations" about Virtual Eye's ability to "predict the path of the ball" (PTG 288-1526, 1 August 2008).
Given that three times during Brisbane Test a wicket was denied after the third umpire, not the on-field umpire, decided a 'no ball' had been bowled, Richards, a current member of the Marylebone Cricket Club's World Cricket Committee, called for popping creases to be widened in order to prevent "no-ball reviews being a blight on cricket". Describing the creases provided for the Test as "skinny", he says that "umpires are afraid to call close no-balls and are instead waiting to see if a wicket falls before reviewing, which throws up questions [as to whether] other no-balls are being let go". Widening the line "would help the umpire and the bowler", he says, and "in my book if an umpire does not call a 'no-ball' then whatever happens, happens".
Fox Sports cricket reporter Bernie Coen raised another issue, that of when a UDRS situation goes to an "umpire's call" and a team that, as it turns out were wrong in their call, then looses one of their reviews. "A line-ball call should be different from a poor review call", he says. In terms of suggestions that 'no ball' calls be left to the on-field umpires he points to two "problems", the first being that the "umpires will be hammered by TV replays if they miss a 'no ball', [as]happened in a series in England a few summer’s ago", "or worse [in terms of corruption issues], questions will be raised about whether some umpires deliberately didn’t call them". "The reviewing of 'no balls' is something causing headaches for fans", but in his view "there isn’t much you can do about it".
Meanwhile, Australia captain Michael Clarke last night defended umpires from, in the words used in one report, "protecting themselves with technology". "The umpires on the ground are doing their best that is for sure [and] they are probably just making extra sure when a wicket falls", and he would "rather see them picked up than guys bowling 'no balls' and still getting away with a wicket". The International Cricket Council recently introduced a requirement that "when an appeal is turned down on what the on-field umpire has called a 'no-ball", then "subject to the availability of technology" the third umpire is to "check for a foot fault and advise the on-field umpire accordingly over a two-way radio" (PTG 1011-4916, 30 October 2012).
ZIMBABWE NAMES 'UMPIRE'
AND 'SCORER' OF THE YEAR
Langton Rusere was named as Zimbabwe's 'Umpire of the Year' and Robina Muzunguzika its 'Scorer of the Year' at a national awards ceremony held in Harare last weekend. Rusere made his debut at first class level in March 2009 and has since gone on to stand in 37 games at that level plus 34 List A and 11 Twenty20 fixtures, and stood in three, nine and ten games respectively during the period of the award, however, unfortunately no details of Muzunguzika's record are available.
Masavingo-born Rusere, who is only 27, was short-listed for the award with Owen Chirombe, an on-field member of the International Cricket Council's second-tier International Umpires Panel who during the year stood in the Under-19 World Cup in Australia (PTG 981-4757, 20 August 2012), his second such event in a row. Muzunguzika was selected for her award from the other two nominees, Freeman Chigovera and Luke Chiwara.
SNAKES, LIZARDS LEAD
TO BALL CHANGES
More than a dozen balls were lost during a series of Under-19 matches in Ahmedabad last week when they were hit into bush around two adjacent grounds where venomous snakes and poisonous lizards are said to abound. A 'Times of India' (TOI) report says that ball boys assigned to the games "didn't venture too far" in search of balls hit out of the ground, and as a result the reserve umpire was often seen "making a sprint to the middle with a set of old balls [to select from] so that the game could continue".
By the time the last game ended the Gujarat Cricket Association decided that the number of balls that couldn't be retrieved meant that a clean up the bush area was needed as a matter of urgency. One GCA official told the 'TOI' a few days later that "it is essential to beautify the area surrounding the two grounds", that "the cleaning process has started", and "we have already got three balls back".
HISTORIC FIRST BALL SIX FOR GAYLE
West Indies opener Chris Gayle yesterday became the first player to hit a six off the first ball of a Test match. Gayle, who is playing in his 94th Test, dispatched Bangladesh debutant Sohag Gazi over long-on in the first match of the series in Dhaka, the 2,051st fixture of its kind since the inaugural Test in 1877.
PLAYING THE GAME
Saturday, 17 November 2012
CA THIRD UMPIRE INTERVENTION
POLICY AGAIN QUESTIONED
Media reports over the last few days suggest that players believe they should have control of when reviews of decisions are conducted during Cricket Australia's (CA) televised domestic fixtures, and not the third umpire as is currently the case. Controversy over the issue arose again on Wednesday during Tasmania's one-day game against Queensland in Hobart, the latter's coach Darren Lehmann and home captain George Bailey expressing their concerns about the situation as it now stands.
In a first, CA's third umpires were first allowed to intervene and reverse on-field decisions prior to the 2011-12 season as long as they did so before the next ball was bowled (PTG 833-4067, 15 September 2011), however, this austral summer they can also "stop play" when they believe a closer look at replays is warranted (PTG 993-4824, 19 September 2012). When CA first up-graded third umpire responsibilities fifteen months ago, former first class player Sean Cary, the national body's then Umpire Manager, and now Cricket Manager, said that the changes were aimed at taking "the [umpire] howler out of the game".
A number of referral issues arose during Wednesday's Hobart match, the most illustrative being when Queensland's Peter Forrest was given 'not out' to an LBW appeal by umpire Geoff Joshua, only for third umpire Paul Wilson to overturn the decision when replays indicated that the ball had "narrowly pitched in line with leg stump". After Joshua's call Wilson, as he is now allowed, stopped play for he obviously thought the matter warranted a close review. That led to Joshua, his on-field colleague Sam Nogajski, players and spectators, waiting for some 3-4 minutes before Wilson advised Joshua via radio that Forrest was out.
Reports say that soon afterwards Lehmann was "seen leaving the players' viewing area with his copy of the Playing Conditions", and that he "had paid a visit to the match review umpire", which appears to be a reference to Wilson, however, whether match referee Denis Burns was also approached was not mentioned. He told journalists after the game that "the players and probably the umpires as well are frustrated with the system so we have to look at it and get it right for the future", for "at the moment I think every game's having some issues with this referral system".
Bailey, who is also Australia's Twenty20 captain, concurred with Lehmann' comments, describing the situation as "just shocking, embarrassing, [and] needs to worked out". His view, which is shared by Queensland captain Peter Hartley, is that the international system of two referrals from players should be used in televised CA games. "I think it confuses the players, I think it confuses the umpires", he said, therefore it should be left " in the hands of the players. "You get two [referral requests and] if you use them with bad reviews then so be it", concluded Bailey.
Paul Marsh. Chief Executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, said on Thursday that while the system was increasing the number of correct decisions being made, inconsistency was becoming an issue; a reference to what reports are suggesting were "a number of other close leg before shouts [that] were not reviewed" during the Hobart match. "We probably didn't foresee some of the issues [when the system was first mooted], it's something we need to discuss, and I'm sure will be on the agenda", says Marsh.
A CA spokesperson said on behalf of Cary on Thursday that they are "comfortable the referral system" as it currently exists as it "is correcting decisions that need to be corrected". During the 2011-12 season, when the ability of the third umpire to intervene on their own was first introduced, there were according to CA, "twelve incorrect decisions that were corrected via the system", which they say "is a good result for the tournament, for the players and for the fans". Even then though players expressed their displeasure on a number of occasions (PTG 903-4389, 20 February 2012).
However, while CA remains officially in favour of the system, several reports claim that the "collective discontent" of players about how the system works has risen to such a level that the issue is likely to be a point of "considerable debate" at CA's Playing Conditions committee meeting next year.
AUSTRALIAN PREPARES FOR
FIRST MATCH IN INDIA
Australian umpire Simon Fry will open his exchange visit to India today when he stands in the Ranji Trophy Group B match between Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka in Meerut a city some 70 km north-east of Delhi. Adelaide-based Fry, who is schedule to take part in a second first class fixture next week before returning home (PTG 1014-4931, 3 November 2012), is to work on the field over the next four days with former Indian Test umpire Suresh Shastri, Manu Nayyar being their match referee.
Fry will be standing in his 61st first class match, Shastri his 86th, two of those being Tests in 2007, while Nayyar is working as a referee in a first class game for the 45th time. Both of the Indians are former first class players, Shastri having appeared in 52 such matches, mainly for Rajasthan, from 1972-87, and Nayyar 57 for Delhi from 1986-94.
ICC TO DEVELOP INTERNATIONAL
UMPIRE ACCREDITATION SCHEME
Simon Taufel, the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Umpire Performance and Training Manager, has indicated that a "competency based umpire accreditation program" is to be developed that will be "a benchmark in ensuring match officials are better prepared for the challenges of international cricket". The Australian, who retired as an international umpire last month, made a brief reference to the planned program in an interview he gave to an India-based cricket web site last week, a discussion in which he described his new role as "primarily a support function" for the ICC's top three umpiring panels (PTG 1009-4902, 27 October 2012).
However, apart from saying that he will be "working with Denis Burns from Cricket Australia (CA)" to developing the new program, Taufel gave no other details about it, and he was not asked by interviewer Subash Jayaraman of the 'Cricbuzz.com' web site to explain further about the project or the time-line envisaged. It is possible though that the proposed system had its genesis five or more years ago during a six-month-long evaluation of international umpiring conducted by the ICC, one of a number of recommendations made then to the world body being that such a system be introduced (PTG 126-686, 1 November 2007).
Lancashire-born Burns is CA's Umpire Educator, a role he has held since 2009, and prior to that he played a key role in the development of the International Institute of Cricket Umpires and Scorers high-tech training material (PTG 348-1853, 12 November 2008). Over his now nearly four years with CA Burns has been involved in the provision of development programs for Australia's senior umpires. In the last fourteen months though he has had to juggle, particularly over the austral summer, that education role with frequent work as a domestic match referee and member of CA's Umpire High Performance Panel (PTG 788-3857, 4 July 2011).
Whether the four ICC Umpire Coaches who will work under Taufel, Englishman Barry Dudleston, Indian Arani Jayaprakash and Sri Lankan Peter Manuel, plus another who will probably come from the Australasian region, will be involved in developing the new accreditation process is not known at this stage. Taufel indicated last month that the latter position "will be advertised" and that the successful candidate will join the group next year, but as yet the call for applications does not appear to have been released. The position was first advertised almost four months ago (PTG 973-4721, 7 August 2012).
INDIAN SKIPPER SNIPES
AT AHMEDABAD UMPIRING
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni says that his side was made to take "more than ten wickets" in England's second innings in the opening Test in Ahmedabad yesterday, a match his side won by nine wickets after enforcing the follow-on. The comment, which one report described as "a veiled attack on the umpires", came about after numerous appeals were turned down by on-field officials Aleem Dar of Pakistan and Tony Hill of New Zealand, particularly when India's spinners were operating for extended periods.
English media reports claim that Dar and Hill made a number of "glaring errors" and Dhoni is said to have been seen "wagging a finger and arguing" with them during the match. There was one claim that "his behaviour is likely to lead to disciplinary charges by the International Cricket Council", although as yet nothing has surfaced in that regard.
England too were the recipients of what journalists from that country describe as "poor decisions". They point to the absence of the Umpire Decision Review System from the series because the Board of Control for Cricket in India has resisted the use of technology because of doubts over accuracy, particularly in relation to ball-tracking systems that are used in evaluating LBW decisions.
CA TO DOCK SHIELD POINTS
FOR 'SUB-STANDARD' PITCHES?
Cricket Australia (CA) is to institute a pitch inspection process from mid-January, the aim being to ensure the strips provided for its domestic Sheffield Shield first class matches are suitable for the preparation of players for Test cricket. In addition to that move, which came after strong criticism of pitches in Australia so far this austral summer (PTG 1016-4940, 7 November 2012), CA is reported to be considering taking Shield points away from state sides if the pitches they provide for home games are rated as substandard and that no extenuating circumstances apply (PTG 1017, 4947, 10 November 2012).
James Sutherland, CA's chief executive, told the Melbourne' 'Sunday Age' newspaper after a meeting of national, state and territory chief executives held in Melbourne last week, that the pitch inspection process was likely to take place only in the event of a match that produces "out-of-the-ordinary results". "What we want to do is make it very clear that our expectation around pitches is that we want the best for all top-level cricket but particularly Shield cricket". "The thinking is [that] if a pitch is deemed to be not of the appropriate standard, or significantly below it, that one of the consequences we'd be looking at would be loss of points", he said.
Sutherland said that a feeling has developed over the last "three years or so that scores [in Shield matches], particularly in the first innings, are down ... and that the pitches are a lot more conducive to faster bowlers and seam bowlers". "On top of that, one of the things that comes with a shorter [first class] game on a pitch that's suited to the fast bowlers is there's less opportunity for the spin bowlers to bowl and develop, and even get a game in some places".
During the current season in Australia no spinner has taken more than two wickets in a Shield innings, and not since the 2007-08 summer has a spinner collected thirty victims in a Shield season. In fact over the past decade a spinner has done that only five times, while during the same period fast and medium pacers have achieved the feat a collective eighty-six times.
Australian batsman Michael Hussey said on the weekend that he doesn't "think the current wickets are helping in creating and developing Test match cricketers". "I played a Sheffield Shield game in Melbourne [two weeks ago] and the pitch was pretty treacherous to be honest", and he believes the current generation of Australian domestic cricketers can become mentally tougher by playing on batter-friendly pitches, for "It's about creating Test match cricketers [who can] bat for six hours". "We also want to try and develop spin bowlers, but they don't even get a bowl in first-class matches which is disappointing".
The England and Wales Cricket Board Cricket (ECB) has a well-established pitch inspection system and a number of counties have lost championship points in recent years, Warwickshire and Kent for example being docked eight points each in 2011 because of the nature of the pitches they provided for matches against Worcestershire and Essex respectively (PTG 767-3762, 28 May 2011). On the other hand, during the 2012 northern summer Lancashire escaped a points penalty after an ECB pitch panel concluded that weather-related issues were behind the "poor" rating given to the strip prepared for a first class fixture against Worcestershire (PTG 965-4694, 23 July 2012).
ANOTHER COACH QUESTIONS
CA THIRD UMPIRE POLICY
South Australia coach Darren Berry has joined his Queensland counterpart Darren Lehmann in questioning the way Cricket Australia (CA) allows its domestic third umpires to review and overturn decisions made by on-field officials in televised fixtures. Controversy over the issue arose last week during Tasmania's one-day game against Queensland in Hobart, Lehmann and home captain George Bailey expressing their concerns about the situation as it now stands (PTG 1019-4953, 17 November 2012).
Media reports on Sunday say that Berry "stormed into the Western Australian change room's midway through [his side's] innings [in Perth on Saturday] to consult with [WA coach] Justin Langer about the system". The two most notable reviews of the day came when South Australian Kane Richardson was given 'not out' on a review when the ball appeared to strike his glove, and West Australian Marcus North was recalled by third umpire Mick Martell after he was given out LBW off the bowling of Johan Botha.
Berry told journalists after the game that "Clearly I was talking to Langer about the confusion it [causes for] coaches, players and umpires alike, which was clearly evident on several occasions [on Saturday night]".
In an article penned for the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on Sunday he said the system "is a mess and [is] causing players, coaches and umpires unnecessary headaches". "The problem this season is that almost every appeal made by the fielding team is causing angst, time wasting and is reflecting poorly on the game". "Dismissed batsmen [who] feel aggrieved at the decision are taking an eternity to leave the field [in order to allow] the third umpire time to review the decision".
Berry says that there is now "so much grey area and inconsistency in the process", and it "is not developing the umpire's confidence under pressure [and] I'm not sure it's promoting the come-join-the-umpiring-fraternity line". "A millimetre is not the difference between a batsmen getting out or not", he continued, a similar comment about reviews in general to that made by former South African batsman Barry Richards last week (PTG 1018-4949, 15 November 2012).
In Berry's view CA "must intervene and make the change and abolish [its] system immediately". "Don't wait until the end of the summer and then have endless meetings on the matter, make the call now and put it in the bin, he says, for "players are frustrated by the current domestic system and relationships between players and umpires are at an all-time low as a result".
PLAYING THE GAME
Thursday, 22 November 2012
PLAYER 'CONFUSION' BEHIND NZ BEHAVIOURAL
PROBLEMS, SUGGESTS UNION CHIEF
Less than a month of New Zealand Cricket's (NZC) senior season has been played to date but already five players have been cited by the umpires for on-field breaches, three more than the entire count for the previous summer, says a TVNZ report aired on Tuesday. The relatively large number of incidents and umpire reports so far led NZC to call a meeting on Monday to discuss the matter, after which player representative Heath Mills suggesting that the behaviour of Australian players last week added to the "confusion" that he says surrounds disciplinary issues.
Over the last few weeks Wellington's Jesse Ryder and Central Districts' Mathew Sinclair have been fined for foul language and dissent respectively, while another Wellington player, Luke Woodcock, was exonerated after being cited for dissent. Two other players have also been reported, but under NZC's judicial system neither their names nor the charges laid against them, are not made public unless they are found guilty.
NZC's operations manager, Lindsay Crocker, is said to be stumped by the high number of code-of-conduct charges and indicated that umpires there had not been issued with a directive to crack down with regard to behavioural issues. "Five is an unusually high number to have, given we are only into the first few weeks", said Crocker, who is "talking with the [New Zealand Cricket Players' Association (NZCPA)] to see how we can manage that number down". "They have all been low level [offences] but we'd rather there were none", he said.
NZCPA chief executive Mills said that the number of citings "is a bit of a concern for all of us". He "resisted pointing the finger" at either the players or the umpires for he feels there is "confusion on both sides as to the application of the law". Mills says it is hard for players to know where they stand when they see Australian fast bowlers James Pattinson and Peter Siddle sledging South Africans Graeme Smith and Hasham Amla respectively during the Test in Brisbane last week and, in his words, "getting away with it".
"Seeing that sort of thing is confusing for our players", said Mills. "If the players behave like pork chops, then they deserve everything they get, but at the moment the application of the code might be a bit inconsistent, [but] I have sympathy for the umpires too, because they do a helluva good job". Mills called for "everyone to go away and look at the code".
An article in the 'Illawarra Mercury' earlier this week also focussed on the behaviour of Pattinson and Siddle, saying that their actions "reeked of the competitive arrogance that has punctuated the [Australian] team's performances in recent times". The unnamed writer, who describes himself as a "junior umpire", says that he has "witnessed some tasteless offerings from pre-teens" in games in recent times, and that "one can only surmise the teachers of this sort of behaviour are Siddle-type episodes".
TEAM SUSPENDS PLAYER AFTER POST-DISMISSAL
DRESSING ROOM DAMAGE
South Australia has suspended all-rounder Dan Christian from tommorrow's Sheffield Shield match against Victoria following as a result of three incidents this month that involved dressing room damage after he was dismissed. Christian, 29, was given a verbal warning following the first incident in Adelaide three weeks ago then a written warning and fined his match fee the following week in Hobart, but that was not enough to stop him transgressing again in Perth late last week.
South Australia's Director of Cricket Jamie Cox said on Tuesday that Christian's outbursts, following batting dismissals, were in conflict with "the values and standards required" by his Association. "Whilst in isolation none of these incidents are hanging offences, the cumulative effect has seen this action as necessary", continued Cox. "Everyone experiences pressure and disappointment at work, but that's not an excuse for bad-tempered behaviour that includes damaging property", and "Daniel has an obligation to himself, his teammates and to cricket to uphold the values and standards of our team and the game".
Reports available indicate that Christian, who was on the fringe of the Australian Test team twelve months ago, has apologised for his actions, none of which appear to have attracted sanctions from Cricket Australia, and paid for the cost of repairs to the dressing rooms involved.
MCC AGAIN TAKES COUNTY
SEASON OPENER TO ABU DHABI
2012 County champions Warwickshire are to play a Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) XI in Abu Dhabi in a day-night, pink ball match in late March, the fourth consecutive year the traditional opener to the County season has been played there. John Stephenson, the MCC's head of cricket, said in a statement on the weekend that after the International Cricket Council's recent endorsement of day-night Tests five months ago (PTG 955-4640, 30 June 2012), he "hopes it will be the last such game before we see two countries playing a Test in that format, if [that is] it hasn’t happened before March", something that appears unlikely at this stage.
The MCC statement says that "with some still expressing doubts over the viability of the pink ball for a Test match, the [Abu Dhabi] fixture will provide another opportunity to rigorously test the 'Kookaburra' version [of the pink ball] in ideal day-night conditions". The MCC's decision to play the first day-night first-class match in Abu Dhabi in 2010 was a direct response to a recommendation made by its World Cricket Committee that using the pink ball to play Test cricket in a new format should be explored.
Stephenson indicated that the MCC "will remain open" to the possibility the MCC-County champion match returning to Lord's, and the club is said to be keeping its options open for that to occur in 2014.
PLAYING THE GAME
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
BATSMAN CAUGHT AFTER BALL
'GRAZES' FIELDER'S HELMET
Replays show that England batsman Jonny Bairstow was caught after the ball "grazed" a fielder's helmet during the Second India-England Test in Mumbai on Sunday. Bairstow's dismissal occurred on what became the last ball before lunch and after seeing replays England coach Andy Flower asked match referee Roshan Mahanama to look into the matter during the interval, but Indian skipper MS Dhoni reportedly rejected a request to consider a reprieve for the batsman.
The incident occurred when Bairstow hit a delivery from Indian left-arm orthodox bowler Pragyan Ojha to the helmeted Gautam Gambhir just forward of silly point. The ball flew to him at chest level, clipped his hands, then hit him in the chest and angled up and touched the grill of his helmet before he finally managed to grab it at the second attempt. Indian fielders celebrated the dismissal and umpires Aleem Dar of Pakistan and Tony Hill of New Zealand immediately called lunch.
Dar was thirty metres away at square leg and had a better general view of the very quick action than Hill, the strike only being picked up by close replays. However, Bairstow who was just two metres from Gambir, quickly turned on his heels and headed for the pavilion, apparently unaware that a catch cannot be taken off a fielder's helmet.
Gambhir is said to have told journalists later in the day that he wasn’t aware of the 'hit helmet' rule and thought that "once the ball hits your body and then the helmet, it’s out". 'Cricinfo' too got it wrong saying in its on line report that after the ball hit the helmet it would be "dead", but Law 32.3(e) states that "..it is not a fair catch if the ball has previously touched a protective helmet worn by a fielder", but then goes on to say that after that "the ball will then remain in play".
A similar incident occurred early in the first Test between Bangladesh and the West Indies in Dhaka two weeks ago when the latter's Kieren Powell apparently asked umpire Bruce Oxenford of Australia to to have the replay looked at after he was caught at point when he was on seven. It showed that the ball had hit a close in fielder's helmet on the way and Powell was reprieved, his knowledge of the Law and challenge clearing him to continue an innings that eventually ended on 117.
At Trent Bridge last year Dhoni allowed England batsman Ian Bell to return after lunch following a correct but controversial run-out on the last ball of the morning session (PTG 806-3946, 1 August 2011), a decision that a few months later led to him winning the International Cricket Council's 2011 'Spirit of Cricket' award (PTG 831-4049, 13 September 2011). But former Indian Test umpire Pilloo Reporter, who stood in fourteen Tests in the period from 1984-92, told reporters that “Dhoni was right" to reject Mahanama's request as Bairstow had, like Bell, left the field of play and could not thus be recalled.
CA CONSIDERED TRIAL OF SUBSTITUTES
SYSTEM, CLAIMS REPORT
A report in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' ('SMH') on the weekend claims that Cricket Australia (CA) "aborted a move" to trial a formal substitutes system in its Sheffield Shield competition this austral summer after being told the competition would lose its first-class status if such a rule was introduced. Publication of the report came after the debate about substitutes arose again following an injury suffered by South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis's on day one of the second Test against Australia in Adelaide on Thursday.
A 12-a-side sport, incorporating replacements, was publicly supported at coaching level by Victoria's Greg Shipperd last month, and medical and sports science experts are "also heavily behind it", says the 'SMH' report. John Orchard, Cricket New South Wales' doctor "who often serves the Australian team" in that role, is said to believe that a starting point is for the "twelfth men" to be able to "substitute for any player, injured or not, at the halfway point of a game for the rest of the match".
Orchard is quoted as saying that ''Cricket has got to debate that question because it used to be a low-injury sport where the schedule was a lot more benign". ''But now that they're playing a lot more cricket, and with Twenty20 and Test cricket close in the schedule, [the game has] got to go through the same debate that every other sport went through". He asks, "Are we doing the right thing by telling players to either play through an injury and worsen it, or leave the team a player short?''
DELHI MATCH ROUNDS OUT
Australian umpire Simon Fry is expected to end his exchange visit to India later today at the conclusion of the Ranji Trophy Group B match between Delhi and Tamil Nadu at New Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Fry, whose first game in India was in Meerut some 70 km north-east of Delhi last week (PTG 1019-4954, 17 November 2012), is working in his second first class match on the sub-continent with Indian counterpart Madhukar Deshpande, the pair's match referee being Satayabrata Mukherjee.
The Delhi match is Fry's sixty-second first class match and Deshpande's twenty-ninth since his debut at that level twelve years ago this month, while Mukherjee is working as a match referee at first class level for the thirtieth time. There is no record of Deshpande playing first class cricket, but Mukherjee chalked up fifty such games, most of them for Bengal, in the decade from 1972-82, before making his debut as a match referee at that level in December 2006.
On his return to Australia Fry's next umpiring duties are expected to be in Cricket Australia's 2012-13 domestic Twenty20 competition which starts on Friday week, and probably in as the fourth umpire in at least one of the three Tests Sri Lanka is to play in Australia in December and early January. Details of Cricket Australia umpiring appointments for those games have not yet been released.
WELLINGTON UMPIRES TO DONATE
MATCH FEES TO CANCER APPEAL
Umpires standing in Cricket Wellington club games in New Zealand this Saturday are to donate their match fees to a fund-raising appeal to assist five-year-old Angus Little who has an inoperable brainstem tumour. The boy's condition is so rare that it occurs in less than one per cent of all brain tumours world-wide and there are currently no chemotherapy or radiation based therapy options available with which to treat him.
Money raised by the umpires and their non-active colleagues from the Cricket Wellington Umpires and Scorers group will, along with funds from by other contributors and fund raising efforts, will go towards what the youngster's family hopes will be clinical trials and treatment at a specialist paediatric hospital in the United States. Details of how contributions can be made to support the cause are available on the appeal's web site.
TV BROADCASTER CONCERNED
ABOUT LONG REVIEW TIMES
Australian television broadcaster Channel Nine is said to be "far from pleased about the long and frequent delays in play" caused by the time it took to conduct reviews during the second Test between Australia and South Africa which ended in Adelaide yesterday, says a report in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on Sunday.
"Not only is television official [Asad Rauf of Pakistan] being asked to check for an overstepping no-ball on just about every decision [made by the on-field umpires], but the eternity for slow motion and 'Hot Spot' vision to be analysed by the man upstairs is a frustration for the broadcaster", claims journalist Chris Barrett, who suggests the delays "may be a talking point" in current negotiations for a new broadcast rights contract.
'BLACK AND WHITE' NOT 'SHADES OF GREY'
NEEDED FOR 'NO BALL' CALLS, SAYS MCC
Suggestions that 'no ball' Law is too strict and that the bowler should get the benefit of the doubt when a “marginal” 'no ball' call of a few millimetres is revealed in television replays when a wicket falls, have been dismissed by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the guardians of the Laws of the game. Television commentator Mark Nicholas and radio broadcaster Barry Richards questioned the application of the Law during replays during the first Test between Australia and South Africa in Brisbane earlier this month (PTG 1018-4949, 15 November 2012).
The MCC makes the point, which is not always realised by players, that it is not the the actual white line that delineates the popping crease, but rather the back edge of it that is closest to the stumps a bowler is delivering balls from that is the key focus for umpires, whether they be on the field or in the television suite. If the bowler’s heel is on the line and nothing is behind the crease, then the delivery is a 'no ball', says the club in a statement, which also emphasises that "it also makes no difference how thick the crease markings are, as it is the back edge of the line that matters".
"That rationale is consistent in other Laws too", it says, for "away from the pitch", for example, "the boundary is defined as the inside edge of the boundary marking". When we see close 'run out' decisions being replayed for the third umpire, he is looking for some part of the bat or person being grounded beyond the white line", and in the case of the boundary marking "if the ball touches the boundary marker, a boundary has been scored".
There has to be a black and white point at which the delivery goes from being a legal one to an illegal one; or where the batsman is in or out; or where a ball running towards the boundary goes from being a non-boundary to a boundary, says the MCC, and "there can be no room for grey". You could redefine any of these Laws, it says, "but you would be only shifting the problem, rather than solving it". In the case of 'no balls' if the white line itself was the crease, the umpire would have to look to see if the line was touched or completely overstepped, which is "the same problem but moved to a different area".
'No', says the MCC, the problem is not with the Law, but with bowlers overstepping. The club "accepts that a centimetre here or there won’t necessarily give the bowler an unfair advantage but, unless there is a clear point at which legal becomes illegal, the confusion will only increase". In its assessment "shades of grey may currently be popular" in some quarters but, in the case of a 'no ball', "black and white is essential".
DOCTROVE RE-ELECTED AS
WINDWARD ISLANDS PRESIDENT
Former West Indian international umpire Billy Doctrove from the island of Dominica was re-elected president of the Windward Islands Cricket Umpires Association (WICUA) last week, say reports from the Caribbean. Doctrove, who is also the area vice-president of the West Indies Cricket Umpires Association with responsibilities for the Windward Islands, said he was pleased to have been given the opportunity to continue to serve his Association.
Doctrove said he now wanted to focus on the training of umpires in an effort to have more Windward Islands Umpires on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) first class panel, and in order to lift the general standard of umpiring in the Caribbean.. At the moment Lennox Abraham is the only Windward Islander on the WICB's 'Senior Umpires Panel', former long-serving member Golande Greaves of St Vincent being dropped earlier this year (PTG 994-4828, 24 September 2012). Abraham was elected as the WICUA Secretary last week and Greaves its public relations officer.
NZC AGAIN HUNTS FOR
'FAVOURITE LOCAL UMPIRE'
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is again conducting a nationwide search to find that country's "favourite local cricket umpire". NZC, which conducted the inaugural competition twelve months ago, says that "amateur cricket umpires are the driving force behind the success of our favourite summertime sport" due to the "tireless" work they undertake in their communities to support club cricket.
'Billy Bowden', one of two New Zealand members of the International Cricket Council's Elite Umpires Panel, said in an NZC press release that the competition is about "recognising those umpires that go the extra mile, and I know there are plenty out there". Graeme Edmond, managing director of the company that sponsors umpiring in New Zealand, says "Amateur umpires are the driving force behind the success of grassroots cricket and so we are very excited to be offering one lucky umpire a well-earned reward".
Six finalists will be selected from each NZC region around the country in January and the national winner will be announced from that group a few weeks later. A range of prizes is on offer, including tickets to this summer's series between New Zealand and England, $NZ1000 spending money, and one-on-one training with a top New Zealand umpire.
Rotorua-based umpire Colin Elstob won the inaugural competition last January ahead of what were described as five other "high calibre' regional finalists (PTG 892-4347, 27 January 2012).
CA TO SCRAP DOMESTIC THIRD
UMPIRE INTERVENTION POLICY
Reports circulating late last night indicate that Cricket Australia (CA) has decided to completely scrap its policy of allowing third umpires to review and overturn decisions made by on-field officials during domestic televised fixtures. The decision, which appears likely to be made public later today, comes after a welter of criticism directed at current arrangements over the last few weeks by state team coaches and captains.
CA's back flip comes despite comments by Cricket Manager Sean Cary ten days ago that the national body was, despite the criticism, "comfortable" with the third umpire arrangements it has now abandoned (PTG 1019-4953, 17 November 2012). CA television officials were given the ability to reverse on-field decisions during the 2011-12 austral summer provided they did so before the next ball was bowled (PTG 833-4067, 15 September 2011), but that was extended this season to allow them to "stop play" where they believed a closer look at replays was warranted (PTG 993-4824, 19 September 2012).
South Australia coach Darren Berry, his Queensland counterpart Darren Lehmann, Tasmanian captain George Bailey, and Paul Marsh, Chief Executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, were amongst those who have publicly made clear their concerns over the last few weeks. Berry for example described the situation "a mess" and called on CA to "intervene and make the change and abolish [the] system immediately"; a suggestion that now appears to have been heeded by Cary and his staff, although probably only after a lot of similar input from a range of other figures from around the country.
While initial indications are that both this season's "stop play" policy and last year's "before the next ball" approach have been consigned to history, just what tasks CA will now ask its third umpires to undertake will not be clear until today's announcement about the change. Past approaches though suggest that they will be given the task of reviewing issues such as low catches, stumpings, run outs and whether or not in tight situations a boundary has been scored, but only when asked to do so over the radio by their on-field colleagues.
The amendment to CA Playing Conditions comes nine days before the start of the national body's high-profile, 35-match, Twenty20 series, and half way into its 31-match, 50-over one-day competition, both of which are normally televised and have third umpires on duty. The change follows another CA playing arrangements modification agreed to last week that will see a pitch inspection process introduced in mid-January (PTG 1020-4957, 20 November 2012).
RANJI TROPHY 'LESS INTENSE' THAN
SHEFFIELD SHIELD, SAYS FRY
Australian umpire Simon Fry, who has stood in two Ranji Trophy domestic first class matches in India over the last two weeks (PTG 1022-4964, 27 November 2012), says that players in those games demonstrated "a strong sense of the code of conduct", a knowledge that translated into good behavior on the field. While he didn't usually have problems with players over discipline issues at home, Fry said there was "perhaps a little more intensity in our Sheffield Shield" competition, says a story posted on the 'Cricinfo' web site last night by journalist Sharda Ugra.
Adelaide-based Fry said that the conditions he had experienced in games in Meerut and Delhi were "ideal for first-class cricket". The stereotypical view of India may be turning pitches with a tight knot of close-in fielders and vociferous bat-pad appeals that Fry thought he "would be seeing a lot of", but that wasn't the case, for he experienced very few overs with close-in fields and "perhaps tracks are now more batsmen-friendly". Over the eight days he was on the field Fry watched on as 2,082 runs were scored for the loss overall of 49 wickets.
The main difference he experienced during the two games was that the Indian domestic system tended to closely follow the International Cricket Council's playing conditions which centre around 90 overs being required in a day against Australia's domestic target of 96. That gives captains in India "more time to organise fields and make bowling changes", and also meant that domestic cricket in Australia usually "flowed a lot quicker", says Fry.
Overall though Fry doesn't "think cricket changes much no matter where it is played", for "players still appeal for the same things, they still suffer the same disappointments on getting out and still celebrate getting wickets in the same manner". But if Fry's next visit to India is cricket-related he would like to learn a little of what is being said on the field. "I'm sure there's sledging out there", he told Ugra, "but I didn't understand a word of it".
INDIAN SKIPPER CRITICISED FOR REACTION
TO 'HELMET CATCH' REQUEST
Former Australian international umpire Daryl Harper has sharply criticised Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for what he says was his failure to reinstate England batsman Jonny Bairstow after he was caught off a fielder's helmet during the second Test in Mumbai on Sunday (PTG 1022-4962, 27 November 2012). A story posted on the Dubai-based '360sport.com' web site yesterday indicates that Harper, who has expressed similar views about Dhoni's attitude in the past, considers the Indian skipper "a repeat offender against the 'Spirit of Cricket'".
Harper, who was interviewed by the web site via phone while he was watching the Test match between Australia and South Africa at the Adelaide Oval on Monday, is quoted as labelling Bairstow's dismissal "a clear breach of the Laws of cricket". The former umpire, who is third on the all-time list of Test umpires and the most experienced Australian at that level, said that "any national captain worth his weight would have immediately withdrawn the appeal and allowed Bairstow to continue his innings".
To back up his assessment the Australian pointed to other instances where he believes Dhoni has, in 360.com's words, "overstepped the mark". First mentioned was the captain's "disparaging remark" about the umpires after the first Test against England last week when he claimed that India had been forced to take more than ten wickets in England's second innings (PTG 1020-4956, 20 November 2012); then a not dissimilar situation that occurred in Jamaica last year when Dhoni talked about being back in his hotel room earlier if correct decisions had been made by the umpires, one of whom was Harper (PTG 781-3823, 26 June 2011).
Harper then went on to discuss what he called the "farcical" incident at Trent Bridge last year when Dhoni allowed England batsman Ian Bell to return after lunch following a correct but controversial run-out on the last ball of the morning session (PTG 806-3946, 1 August 2011), a decision that a few months later led to him winning the International Cricket Council's (ICC) 2011 'Spirit of Cricket' award (PTG 831-4049, 13 September 2011).
"Despite being asked three times by the umpires to consider withdrawing his appeal, Dhoni refused", states Harper. He says "it took [an Indian] team conference and a player vote to overturn the farce", "but then Dhoni was given [the] ICC 'Spirit of Cricket' [award] for recalling Bell, even though it clearly was not his personal choice". "How bizarre was that?”, asks Harper, before going on to make a number of biting, sarcastic remarks about the Indian captain and claiming that "his history of disrespect for the game continues to build".
Harper left international cricket last year when he withdrew from standing in the third and final Test match between the West Indies and the India in the Caribbean, a game that was to have been his 96th and last at that level before his retirement (PTG 785-3838, 30 June 2011). He did so because of a barrage of negative articles about umpiring decisions that appeared in the media on the sub-continent after the first Test between the two sides a few weeks before, stories he believed were being generated from senior members of the Indian side; and he was clearly angry about what he saw as the lack of support he received from the ICC over the issue (PTG 798-3902, 17 July 2011).
WORK TO FURTHER IMPROVE
HELMET SAFETY PLANNED
UK-firm Jon Hardy and Company, the manufacturer of the 'Masuri' helmet brand, has raised funding for research into and development of a safer cricket helmet design, say reports from London on Monday. That move is said to have resulted from questions about the suitability of the current safety standards set for batting helmets that were sent to all helmet manufacturers earlier this year by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA).
According to a Hardy press release, the work that is to be undertaken as a result of the ICC-FICA initiative "follows an increased number of recorded facial injuries, mainly caused by the ball contacting the head through the gap between a helmet's peak and grill". The company says that the 2013 edition of its helmet will have "more protection afforded to the ear, chin and face whilst maintaining visibility".
CA TO LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVE
TO SCRAPPED REVIEW POLICY
Investigations are to be undertaken into an alternative video-review policy for Australian domestic competitions prior to the 2013-14 austral summer after Cricket Australia's (CA) third umpire intervention approach was scrapped mid-season on Wednesday (PTG 1023-4970, 28 November 2012). CA third umpires in televised matches will now adjudicate on run-outs, stumpings, hit wicket, obstructing the field, and close boundary calls, but only after receiving a request from their on-field colleagues.
Sean Cary, CA's Cricket Manager, said that the national body's reluctance to make such a significant change mid-season was trumped by ''feedback from all the stakeholders who believed that the system was sometimes inconsistent and could cause delays in play''. “We assessed the impact the system was having on the competition and we believed there were sufficient reasons to discontinue the intervention system following unanimous support from the State teams", said Cary.
Media reports were more blunt in their assessment of the situation, one describing the change as being brought about by a "near revolt" from players and coaches, while another said CA had "succumbed to player power" in making the move (PTG 1019-4953, 17 November 2012).
CA’s Playing Conditions Committee, which is made up of the likes of former players such as Greg Chappell, Matthew Hayden, Mark Taylor, Shane Warne and Paul Marsh of the Australian Cricketer's Association, but apparently not of anyone with direct experience as an umpire, will have the task of looking into the possibilities for a alternative review system.
ICC WEB SITE POST CONFIRMS
IUP PROMOTIONS FOR 2013
A posting on the International Cricket Council's (ICC) web site yesterday has confirmed for the first time that Australian Simon Fry has been promoted to an on-field spot on the ICC's second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) alongside Paul Reiffel, and that John Ward, 50, has been moved into the third umpire position previously occupied by Fry. Match selections by Cricket Australia (CA) have pointed to the new arrangement for some time, however, as yet CA has not made any general announcement about the changes it has made to its IUP membership.
The same posting shows that the England and Wales Cricket Board nominated both Michael Gough and Tim Bailey as IUP third umpires, and moved Rob Bailey into an on-field spot alongside Richard Illingworth. Gough, 32, is a former Durham, England Under-19 and England A player, his short career lasting only five years from 1998-2003; while Robinson, 54, played Test and One Day Internationals for his country in the period from 1978-99.
Other changes shown on the ICC web site include the addition of Anisur Rahman to join Sharfuddoula Ibne Shahid as a third umpire in Bangladesh's IUP group (PTG 1013-4923, 1 November 2012), while Enamul Hoque Moni and Nadir Shah remain in the two on-field spots; the latter currently being suspended and under investigation following an India TV 'sting' operation almost two months ago (PTG 1001-4862, 9 October 2012).
IUP appointments for India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Zimbabwe remain as previously reported by 'PTG'.
INZAMAM GOES INTO BAT
FOR AN UMPIRE, UMPIRING
Former Pakistan cricket captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has attacked former Australian player Shane Warne for criticising Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar for his "bad decision making" during the recently-completed India-England Test in Mumbai. Inzamam told the Pakistan-based 'Geo Super channel' on Wednesday that Warne, who is working as a commentator during the Test series, "targeted Aleem Dar just to gain cheap publicity" and to "pander to Indians".
The Australian is reported to have 'tweeted' about three-time world 'Umpire of the Year' Dar, that "Players get dropped if they have poor form, Aleem Dar has had 2 shockers in India and always has been a bad decision maker!" Inzamam said that he has "never seen a better umpire than Aleem Dar in my entire cricket career", and somewhat interestingly, called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to "take action" against Warne; although just what mechanisms he thinks the world body could used to do just that were not spelt out.
Inzamam also said that he was "not happy" the Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's remarks about the umpiring in the Mumbai Test (PTG 1023-4972, 28 November 2012), and believes "it would be best for Dhoni to try to convince his board to use the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) instead of criticising the umpires". He urged the ICC to ensure there is "uniform implementation" of the UDRS in all forms of international cricket, saying that "it's time the ICC got its member nations on the same wavelength as far as [that sysyem] is concerned as it had proven beneficial for the game and teams".
EIGHT SELECTED FOR FIRST RUNG
OF AUSSIE UMPIRE PATHWAY
Eight umpires, one from each Australian state and the two territories, are to manage matches in Cricket Australia's (CA) national male Under-17 Championships in Hobart next month, say reports. Those taking part in the annual event have been nominated by their respective umpire coaches for consideration and evaluation by CA observers as potential candidates for higher honours, the tournament being an initial rung on CA's umpiring pathway.
Those who are understood to be taking part in the two-week long Under-17 series are: Simon Burns (Tasmania); Mark Ferris (Australian Capital Territory); Phillip Gillespie (Victoria); Cain Kemp (South Australia); Jayvan Ruddick-Collins (Queensland); Jeremy Sten (Northern Territory); Ben Treloar (New South Wales); and Chris McCann (Western Australia).
Most of the eight are believed to be regulars in the top grade of club cricket in their region, while Ferris, Gillespie, Treloar and McCann have also supported women's interstate fixtures. Treloar, who two weeks ago stood in an international between the Australian and New Zealand women's 'A' sides (PTG 1010-4914, 29 October 2012) , took part in the U-17 national championships before during the 2010-11 season, and McCann last year.
MCA HEARINGS PLANNED ON
UMPIRE ASSAULT, ABUSE
The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) is to conduct a hearing later today into an incident that saw an umpire attacked at the end of a club match six weeks ago. MCA preparations for the recent India-England Test led to the hearing being delayed until now, but reports at the time said that Chandrakant Mhatre was assaulted after he gave batsman out LBW on each of the last two balls of the day (PTG 1007-4890, 24 October 2012).
Some reports available claim that Mhatre was attacked by players from the batting side, however, an official from that club claimed that while "our players were angry [about the] two controversial decisions and someone might have said something, we never assaulted any umpire".
An MCA official said yesterday that “there will be two hearings on Friday", one for the Mhatre incident and another that relates to "the abuse of the umpire in another match" in the same competition. The MCA is said to be worried about both the abuse of umpires and the general standard of their performances in its matches, and "wants strict laws for teams assaulting and abusing umpires in near future".