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January 9, 2008
The president of the West Indies Cricket Board has attacked the ICC's decision to remove Steve Bucknor from umpiring in the Perth Test as being an "extreme" reaction.
In a letter to ICC president Ray Mali, Julian Hunte compared the situation to the way the ICC handled a similar complaint lodged by the WICB during West Indies' tour to Australia in 2005. "The ICC's reaction by Dave Richardson [the ICC's cricket manager] was to acknowledge that errors were made but to insist that 'the overall standard of umpiring has improved in recent years, particularly with the advent of the elite panel'.
"It would be interesting to know what made this situation any different." The match referee during that series was Mike Procter, who is again at the centre of the storm following the Sydney Test.
Hunte has asked Mali to provide information to the WICB to enable it to consider what action it might want to take. It has asked for copies of all communication between the ICC and Bucknor, the ICC and other parties and the report of the match referee.
"There is no question that even the best umpires make mistakes," Hunte concluded. "They are human and there are circumstances which may affect their judgement. What worries us is whether the action of the ICC in the case of Bucknor might create even more problems for the ICC and international cricket down the line."
The West Indies Cricket Umpires' Association have also backed Bucknor. In an open letter, Vivian Johnson, the secretary, wrote: "It is unfortunate that these incidents have happened in this Test match, but you have been bold enough to accept your responsibility and apologised which is indicative of your character and strength as a person.
"We do not support the decision of the ICC to replace you as the umpire for the third Test as it sends the wrong signal to those countries that are awash with cash, power and influence that they can get what they want as a result of their status. This is wrong and I hope that the ICC will have discussions regarding this decision with a view not to repeat it in the future."
The move was also slammed by Clive Lloyd, the former West Indian captain and match referee. "You wonder what confidence this gives umpires," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I don't think anybody is out there to cheat anybody. The umpires I have had, particularly at ICC level, have been excellent. They are people who are very honest and who I trust implicitly. Every time something goes against you it doesn't mean the guy is cheating. Nobody is infallible. We all make mistakes - we have to accept it as that. That has always been part of cricket - we have to accept the decision and move on."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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