Like a pair of naughty schoolboys

Trying to prove in a court of law that the governing body of cricket is racist is an ambitious aim, and it may well be that Darrell Hair’s surrender stems from a realisation that he was going to lose, and lose expensively. It also appears that he hasn’t managed to cut a deal with the ICC, and is thus probably destined to spend the rest of his life umpiring club cricket and shopping at Primark.

I can’t think of a single incident in the last decade which has split cricket more evenly. Both sides’ arguments make eminent sense. Yes, Hair was simply applying the laws of the game, yes, the Asian lobby probably do wield too much power and yes, the ICC should have offered him more support. But equally validly, Hair was a pompous, posturing fool that day, there was no firm evidence of ball-tampering and trying to blackmail your employers for $500,000, let alone labelling them racist, is just plain daft.

Mercifully, then, it appears to be all over. It’s not really for me to apportion blame to one side or the other – although you should feel free below – but in this ugly display of playground mudslinging, neither party has exactly covered itself in glory and you can’t help thinking that surely, surely, the world of cricket can do better than this. Hair and the ICC have behaved like a pair of name-calling schoolboys. And as your teacher always told you: “It doesn’t matter who started it. You shouldn’t have reacted.”

The new generation of umpires

Prolific Patrick – and that’s not his full name – has another interesting article on his blog, this time on Michael Gough, the former Durham batsman-turned-umpire. He’s just 26 and was highly regarded as a young player (he represented England Under-19s) – and is now a first-class umpire, which is an interesting development. Talking to Patrick, he says: “All sports officials are getting younger,” Gough said. “It is no longer for old guys in white jackets.”

Worth a read.

ICC innovations structure isn’t very appealing

It has been reported in today’s paper that the ICC are considering a trial where players can appeal against the umpires decision. They are talking about using the Champions Trophy as a test bed for the idea. I noted the other day that the players don’t take the Champions Trophy very seriously, and it appears that the ICC does not either.

The ICC cricket committee, chaired by Indian great Sunil Gavaskar and including former Australian captain Allan Border, will debate whether players should be allowed to appeal against a certain number of decisions per innings if they feel they have been wronged by umpires.

An appeals system has been used in the National Football League for years, and the ICC denied such a process in cricket could undermine the authority of the standing umpires.

“What we are looking to do is increase the already high numbers of correct decisions made by our on-field umpires without diminishing their role and this approach has the potential to do just that,” said Dave Richardson, ICC’s general manager of cricket.

Presumably, a captain could appeal, say, two contentious decisions per innings and ask that they be referred to the third umpire. The standard of international umpiring has been a big issue recently.

The standard of international umpiring is in fact fine, if you ask me. Australia toured South Africa and Bangladesh and played 5 tests and 8 odi games and I don’t remember a single contentious decision.

While I am a crusty old curmudgeon, I do not in fact have a problem with new ideas in cricket. However, I do have notions about the proper place to test new ideas, and the ICC Champions Trophy, whatever its merits, or otherwise, is not in fact one of those places. If the ICC had asked a member country to test its ‘supersub’ rule in a domestic competition, the flaws in the idea, which were manifest at the time anyway, could have been demonstrated in a slightly less public manner.

Inappropriate umpires

Ah, the umpire. A bastion of respect and authority, standing static at the top end of the pitch. We curse their decisions and mock them when they do an irish jig to avoid a bludgeoned four, but they remain the game’s “final word”. Without them, carnage would ensue. Which got me thinking…

Who would be the most inappropriate umpire? My top ones so far are Basil Fawlty, Baldrick from Blackadder and the dodgy geezer from the Fast Show (“I’m a little bit wehhhh, little bit woooaaah. I’ll nick anyfink, me”).

Of equal hilarity and shitness would be various political leaders past and present: Hitler (although he’d clearly enjoy giving batsmen out, with that salute of his), Stalin (twat), Churchill (drunk and disorderly) and Blair (clown, egocentric, wouldn’t enjoy lack of spotlight).

Oh God, Blair really would cock it up spectacularly.

And yours?

Billy Bowden’s bizarre and bonkers signalling

Billy Bowden

Stumbled across (as is the blogger’s wont) a new cricket blog. Well – new to me. And John, the blogger, has done a brilliant cartoon of Mr Bowden’s unusual, quite funny but ulimately irritating signalling. Good stuff John!

Bob Woolmer speaks about the use of technology

We initially were wary that a certain Bob Woolmer had emailed in – but sure enough, it was he, and he wrote a very interesting response on our new blog, Wicket to Wicket, about the use of technology in aiding umpiring. Check it out.

Corruption in The Ashes?

Read this bloke’s comment. A bitter fan, or does he have a point?

Darryl Harper on David Shepherd

Fellow umpire Daryl Harper has posted his thoughts on the recently-retired David Shepherd, including this gem:

In August 2000 at The Oval, Courtney Walsh walked out to bat for the final time in a Test match on English soil. He was greeted with a guard of honour from his opponents as he entered the ground in his customary batting position at number eleven. As I stood with Shep and applauded the champion, David recalled that Don Bradman had been given a similar send-off on the same ground, 52 years earlier in his final Test match. As I returned to my position at the bowler’s end, I passed the big West Indian whose eyes were flowing with tears of emotion. I quickly mentioned the Bradman link as Shep had recalled, adding that the Don had made a second ball duck! Courtney threw his head back and vowed to do better than that. The first ball from Domenic Cork passed outside off stump and Walsh flashed at it without getting close. The second delivery was pitched on off stump and Walsh pushed forward with his bat. The ball eluded the wood and cannoned into the front pad, somewhere near the knee roll. It wasn’t a tough decision for me…..Courtney Walsh had emulated Bradman in his final Test innings in England.

Goodbye, Shep

Old Shep’ retires tomorrow – his final match should, hopefully, be a cracker. There are some great photos of him at Cricinfo

David Shepherd’s last ODI

It’s old Shep’s last ODI today and David Foot profiles the great man here

Hat tip: Scott