Monday, April 17, 2006

Another one for the file

Right....this is an interesting one. I didn't watch this event live (nowhere to get it!) but going by reports, this is a perfect example of how the Aussies get things done their way, even amidst the 'neutrality' of the cricket officialdom. Ricky Ponting, presumably (since the jury is out, although the pictures are there to see), asked the onfield umpires to review a negative third umpire judgment, ask for a repeal, and got it in his favour!
In the 32nd over of the innings, Shane Warne floated one up that drifted in and dipped, taking the inside edge before bouncing off Ahmed's boots to Gilchrist. The on-field umpires, Ian Howell and Aleem Dar, were unsure and so referred it to Mahbubur Rahman, the third umpire. After a number of replays, it seemed the decision was made in the batsman's favour - Rajin Saleh pumped his fist and Howell, the umpire at the bowler's end, began moving towards his mark. At this point Ponting entered the fray. An animated chat with Howell resulted in a review of the decision as the umpires went into further conversation with Rahman. This time the verdict was in Australia's favour and Aftab trudged back for 18.
The Bangladesh team is understandably not very happy, and Ponting has now to face an disciplinary hearing. Bangladesh has, even in the past, complained that the bad decisions against them don't get enough critical review since they 'don't matter' at the big stage. Surely not going to help them reach that big stage, such attitude. But now, since they're fresh from the scare-of-the-lifetime they handed over to Aussies in first test, apparently the issue gets to be more important.

Anyway, back to the issue itself...the match referree, Crowe, says Ponting never really asked for a 'review'...just 'enquired' what the situation was..
But Jeff Crowe, the match referee, said that it was understood that Ponting never asked for another referral and added that neither umpire charged him with the incident. "I understand from the umpires Ricky Ponting never said 'You should go up to the third umpire and do it again'," Crowe was quoted as saying by Fox Sports. "I think he indicated that the word that came from the Bangladesh dressing-room was that he was out and he was just inquisitive as to what went on. But it was not a direct ask that the umpires should review the decision or go upstairs.
But, isn't Ricky acting beyond his brief when he even mentions the decision once that is made? And no matter hows or whys of it. Isn't that against the ICC code of conduct, questioning the verdict?

Imagine what if Rahul had made a similar 'inquiry' about Sivaram's decision in favour of KP at Nagpur test? And there, he even had a genuine case of 'confusion' since the giant screen gave him notout way before the green light flashed. Oooh....I can't even begin to imagine the storm that Botham - he the one who couldn't digest Bhajji standing his ground for an issue which even had field umpires confused and needing confirmation from the 3rd ump - would have cooked up on this!

Crowe, who already seems to be batting well for Ponting, has this to add further
"It was a communication problem really," said Crowe. "In fairness, what we had to say that with the referral upstairs, it should have been highlighted what they really wanted. The number three umpire [...] is not the most fluent in English, although he is a very good man and does communicate well, he wasn't sure really about what they wanted at that point."That's why after what was done, when the decision was first given, the umpires down below weren't sure he got the right information, or understood what was required. Once they found that information out - that the ball had hit the boot - that's all they needed to confirm what they thought. That's why it was reversed."
But if the umpires were not sure, why did they need Ponting to intervene? Why and more importantly, what, did they 'accept' when the first verdict came out, and they were returning to their mark?

And finally, the cricinfo understanding on the issue is also bewildering, for me
Even if Ponting had indeed asked for a referral, he was probably within the rules to do so. Law 27.5 states that:

When a batsman has been given Not out, either umpire may, within his jurisdiction, answer a further appeal ...
Sure so if there is a law making 'further appeal' as acceptable, what the heck is this 'excessive appealing' all about? Where we have the length of India bowlers' appeals measured precisely in seconds upto the acceptable range, and then subsequent penalising follows?

Anyway, interesting to wait and watch. For me, this looks like a simple case of questioning the verdict, and I would expect some penalty coming Ponting's way, especially because he is the captain. But, as ever, I wouldn't, for a single moment, count on it.


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