The threat of a break

FOR several years now there have been rumours, suggestions and even threats that the Asian countries would break away from the ICC and just play cricket amongst themselves.

The latest and perhaps the most worrying is the current situation whereby for safety reasons Australia has decided not to tour Pakistan later in the season.

In the current unstable situation in Pakistan and with the best advice from both the Australian Government and friends on the ground in Pakistan, the Australian Cricket Board had no alternative but to cancel the tour.

While the Pakistan Cricket Board made statements saying the Australian team will be safe in Pakistan, I don't see how this can be guaranteed. Certainly it hasn't worked with the various Churches, Christian hospitals and schools been attacked in recent times with tragic results by terrorists. The Australian Cricket Board made this decision very reluctantly and very mindful of the need to help Pakistan cricket in these difficult times.

However even these desires had to be of secondary consideration to the safety of the players.

I would have thought that Pakistan would have appreciated this more for after all this was the major reason given for the long period when Test cricket was not played between India and Pakistan.

Just how the call for the Asian Cricket Bloc to boycott matches in the future against Australia will help Pakistan defies logic. Australia has been a great supporter of cricket in Asia and their push to gain Test recognition for Sri Lanka enabled them to join International cricket years before other countries wanted them to. In addition they have generally been the first country to visit areas after political decisions and climate had made tours impossible.

For some years there have been suggestions of splits in world cricket. At one stage rumour mongers were suggesting that world cricket would be divided between black and white countries and now we have discussions and threats of Asia separating from World cricket.

I hope the current suggestions are shelved as quickly as the racially motivated blacks v whites and common sense rules and the long term good of cricket prevails over hot-headed off the cuff thoughts.

For some time now, I have been concerned by the accuracy of many of the devices used by the third umpire to adjudicate on decisions.

Many of these gadgets have been lauded by the TV pundits as the best thing since sliced bread and proclaimed as the future for decision-making in cricket.

Now my worries have been compounded by decisions in the Trent Bridge Test and in particular the refusal of what I thought was a clean catch by Virender Sehwag at second slip from the edge of Alec Stewart's bat.

For some years now, I have been suggesting that cameras, either distort or are not clear enough to use in bat pad decisions or close to the ground catches. The Sehwag catch was a classic illustration of this. Perhaps the best judge of whether it was out or not was the man closest to the action - in this case Rahul Dravid at first slip.

Dravid is one of the fairest man in cricket who upholds the finer principles of the game. His reactions to the catch was a classic example of will it carry, will he catch it, and finally, oh beauty what a great catch.

Rahul standing less than one metre from the ball was never in doubt the catch had been made cleanly and neither was Sehwag. He knew his fingers and hands were under the ball.

Most times a fieldsman knows when he has cleanly caught the ball. If he hasn't you can always pick the doubt. In Sehwag's case his catching action was perfect. Hands perfectly cupped and waiting to receive the ball and no doubt the ball was not going to carry.

When a fielder's natural instinct says that ball is going to be fractionally short his hands react differently as he frantically tries to push them at the ball. There was no sign of this in the Sehwag catch.

Further improvements are obviously needed in the cameras before they can be the final adjudicators. I am very concerned with the conclusions being reached in analysing illegal action of the bowlers. It seems if the cameras show a hyper extension of the elbow then this is o.k.

The only problem with this is the arm is still bent and a bent arm which straightens to deliver the ball is against the laws of the game.

Interestingly while watching the javelin "throwers", at the recent Commonwealth Games they all appeared to show in super slow motion, a higher extension of the elbow.

Perhaps we should call them bowlers instead of throwers.