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The Race Thing
Blog Entry - Blog Saturday, 12 January 2008 13:20
Contributed by Jonathan Cumberbatch    (2318 views)
 The circumstances:  A litter of appalling umpire decisions had been piled up against the Indian team over the past two series against Australia and a tipping point was there for all to see.  Tempers already short, Oz sledging continued unabated (as everyone knows they go at it when batting as well as fielding) with Indian retorts occasionally being entered.  
 
Then the accusation.
 
Facts:
 
1.  No umpire (to my understanding) had cause to meet with any player or captain over the level of comments being spewed on the field (as has occurred in previous series with (you guessed it) Australia involved).
 
2.  No impartial third party (e.g. umpire, sub fielder) heard the word mentioned. This claim therefore immediately became a case of one man's word against another making adjudication impossible.  This is common justice practiced in schools, offices and courts globally.
 
Mike Proctor thought differently.
 
3.  In the many encounters between Harbhajan and the West Indies, some of whom have treated his bowling quite severely from time to time, he has never stated, or even been seen to mutter, an abusive term in reference to the offending batsman.
 
Harbhajan has also been viewed as a 'mixer' by locals within a team that is often quite straight-laced when touring the Caribbean.
 
4.  The ICC's decision to replace Mr. Bucknor (really just half of the umpiring problem there) has left Windies fans betwixt and between as the WICB president's letter of concern has underlined:  The issue is not the the removed umpire is West Indian, it's that such a complaint was raised before and met no action. Further, the letter implies but does not state explicitly, is the tail (teams) now wagging the dog (ICC) and more profoundly, just who is the tail and who is the dog in the increasingly professional arrangement of international cricket.
 
Many other odorous social issues have been raised in the wake of the controversy but keeping focus, this takes us all back to Australia and its place in the cricketing world.  Never viewed as pushovers even at their weakest passages in the 1930's, the early '60s and the '80's, no one genuinely begrudges them their success which is built of skill, technical analysis and the ability to scrap for an ever-sought victory. Their desire to pay to win a Test match has, in my opinion, significantly prolonged the popularity of the format.
 
That said, their propensity to sledge has been met with continued disgust for over thirty years with little done to stop it by any authority. Their generational refusal to walk - popularized by the strident Ian Chappell - and more recently, their willingness to claim dropped/ bump catches has long tarnished their reputation in the Caribbean.
 
My brother and I had several heated discussion with Oz fans at the WC final where they all agreed to the 'little cheats' but all ran behind the argument that it was up to the umpire at the end of the day. And they're right.
 
With umpires refusing to access technology (as is their unbounded right) perhaps the Bucknor episode is poetic justice...but has the real criminal been caught in all this?

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