Umpiring: the standard has come down

Dhoni has been in the thick of things for the wrong reasons and for one known to possess immense poise and restraint, his candid statements about umpiring are enough indications that something needs to be done.

The current series between India and West Indies has attracted attention more for controversies than for high quality cricket. The umpiring decisions have come in for criticism and that too at a time when the ICC was trying its best to get the BCCI to embrace the DRS.

The timing of the inept umpiring standards may be suggestive for the yarn spinners, but the long and short of it is that the umpiring has been sub-standard in the recent times despite the fact that the ICC is doing as much as it can to reduce the burden of the umpires in its quest to become more dependent on technology.

Daryl Harper did not exit the game in the best fashion possible which was sad but in an era where there is so much at stake, players cannot be expected to take things lying down especially when they are aware that they have the support of their governing body.

Dhoni has been in the thick of things for the wrong reasons and for one known to possess immense poise and restraint, his candid statements about umpiring are enough indications that something needs to be done. Be that as it may, the umpiring fraternity will be happy that the DRS will be in vogue in the future even though in a diluted form.

The BCCI's acceptance of the DRS would have pleased the majority of officials in the ICC but there still remains a lot to be done if the controversies have to be avoided in the future.

A very serious lapse by the broadcasting company has resulted in draining the faith of the followers as far as technology is concerned and the credibility of the tools that are used to facilitate better decision making. That the offender was whisked away from the ground is more of a damage control exercise and even a novice will know that one mistake is one too many in the broadcasting industry.

The faus pax from the broadcasting company has further strengthened the view that technology or people handling the technology can really make a hash of things and as such there is no guarantee that the players can look forward to a blemishless performance from the umpires or technology. Then of course, what will be left to discuss in the pubs and amongst friends if cricket becomes a game absolutely rid of bad umpiring decisions?

While the BCCI can be pleased in that it had its say despite agreeing to the DRS, the West Indies board is in a serious mess due to its apparent inability to handle issues. The “Gayle storm” is yet to blow over and it is ridiculous to see a puppet masquerading as a captain. The bludgeoning opener on his part has tried to mend fences with the officials of the WICB but as is the norm everywhere, the punishment for a revolt can be severe.

Though the indications are that Gayle will find solid support from his friends in the dressing room, it is hard to believe them taking up the cudgels for Gayle, given that they have no other source of income except the match fees etc that they earn by representing the country.

It will be interesting to see how long Gayle will be at loggerheads with the WICB as it is not easy to retain his market price without playing international cricket. As of now, he does have options to maintain a healthy bank balance, but it will be foolhardy of him to think that the IPL will be his permanent source of income. He would do well to realise that the franchisees are ruthless when it comes to making decisions as Sourav Ganguly found out in the last auction.

The WICB seems to be going through a phase where its main objective is to prove that no player can hold the board to ransom and though there is nothing in enforcing policies, the WICB cannot lose sight of the fact that they cannot accelerate the deterioration of cricket by going after players who have served them well.

It took a Ali Bacher to mediate between the WICB and Lara a few years ago to resolve matters and one wonders if any of the former greats of West Indies will be willing to take upon himself to break the deadlock. But with the current skipper Sammy displaying diabolical tact, it will not be an easy job for even the greatest of trouble shooters to diffuse the situation. The ball is in the WICB court and the office-bearers need to shed their egos and look at the larger picture than aiming to secure short term victories. There is no place for one-upmanship in a team game and considering that a few islands come together to represent as one Nation, it can be a trying job. But the officials obviously knew what entailed their jobs when they took up their posts and as they say, they have laid their beds and they have to lie on them.