Politics January 8, 2008

ICC's giant stride towards irrelevance

The process of South Asian, and especially Indian rule, in international cricket has taken some time to reach a conclusion, but it has today with the removal of Steve Bucknor

If historians ever want to mark the period when power in cricket shifted to South Asia then this is it. Just over a year ago Pakistan clashed with Darrell Hair, now India have done battle with umpire and match referee. Both Test matches might have been lost by the complainant but they recorded landmark off-field victories.

Any Pakistan fan will have considerable empathy with the plight of Indians. They believe their team to be victims of fundamental injustices and they are unwilling to tolerate a slur on their reputation. Pride matters more than the result.

Yet there are two issues we must not forget in the mayhem.

First, while it might be almost impossible to judge the veracity of the charge against Harbhajan Singh--is one man's word better than the other's?--calling a fellow cricketer a "monkey" goes way beyond sledging. It is a racist term and cannot be excused. I'm afraid that South Asians are as likely to be as racist as any another population group. It is a sad fact and we must accept it and condemn it. My sincere hope is that Harbhajan was misheard. An appeal seems a fair resolution at this stage.

Second, removing Steve Bucknor from the Perth Test is a crushing defeat for the ICC. Umpires make mistakes. If we strive for perfection then all decisions should be deferred to and made in consultation with the third umpire. If we value the unpredictability of human error in cricket then we must point out but tolerate Bucknor's errors. Either way, Bucknor did not force a Test match to be abandoned--Hair's failing--he is the latest in a long line of umpires to have inadvertently encouraged a result. Either way, ICC has set a worrying precedent by bowing to Indian pressure.

The process of South Asian, and especially Indian, rule in international cricket has taken some time to reach a conclusion but it has today. Just as the days of English and Australian governance of cricket called out for some balancing power, the dominance of the South Asians requires a similar counterweight.

This week's events are lamentable for any overtones of racism, just as they are lamentable for any overtones of corporate bullying. My greatest regret, however, is that the ICC has failed to develop systems of governance that prevent the hegemonic rule of one or two powers. In this the ICC is replicating the failings of almost every known international organisation. It is a giant stride towards irrelevance.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on January 14, 2008, 16:41 GMT

    i want to include one more thing . The umpires job is made difficult by making him look at the bowlers crease for over stepping and then quickly he has to look at the bats mens end for LB's and catches.This pressure makes him commit mistakes.Bring in technology to call the no balls. Ease thier load.

  • testli5504537 on January 14, 2008, 8:59 GMT

    Much as my heart is happy to see Bucknor removed from the series I think the ICC got it wrong.Fair enough there were mistakes made by both umpires yet Benson has got away scot free.If India had a problem with Bucknor prior to the series they should have raised the objection.What this now sets is that if an umpire has a bad game sides will be calling for his head.The only way is to maximise use of technology even though it will slow the game down.As far as annuling tests go would you annul the game in which Maradona used the "hand of god",we just have to accept mistakes made as part of sport what the ICC needs to do is to reduce the percentage of the same.This will ensure that sides don,t have a bone to pick at the end of every match

  • testli5504537 on January 14, 2008, 0:20 GMT

    Post 3 ---- so just try to remember that these are aussie players. They couldnt take it. and if ever bhajji has said something racial, do you think symonds was going to go away quietly. he is going to say something back as well. look at the videos of past matches, symonds will always reply back to whatever abuse or words said to him. in this match, he walked away. so I believe that bhajji never said something to abuse symonds racially. in hindi we would say " CHOR KE GHAR CHORI HUYI " .. symonds and aussie players are going to get back what they have dished out to each and every country. no ifs and buts in this. I used to like the way they play, I used to like clarke and gilchrist, but not anymore. simply because they cannot accept defeats. I remember in ashes 2005, when kasprowiz was out, and aus lost the game by 2 runs or something. fredie went to him and patted on his back. thats game. they played it hard,but fair.How about aussie behaviour?

  • testli5504537 on January 14, 2008, 0:15 GMT

    Post2--- if that is not wrong, then what is wrong? please explain to me. The whole incident took place because ponting complained. Please go ahead and interview BC lara, chanderpaul, sarwan, murli, sachin, saurav, matter of fact any world class player. They had their ears full while playing against aussies. Whenever they complained, or atleast we assume that some people would have, referee would have "REQUESTED" aussie guys to behave. because the ICC data book suggest very few aussie players have been charged till now. Does that make them fair players? so my point is, if aussie are used to dish out stuff to people, they have to receive it back. in india or subcontinent culture, if you abuse someone about their mothers, and sisters, they would try to kill you. but if you say to them that they are black or indian or something like racial slur, they would reply back. but will not overreact. I will write in post 3

  • testli5504537 on January 14, 2008, 0:10 GMT

    Someone please get some clues about aussie cricket first. The whole world is crying out "foul" because BCCI appealed and tried to remove bucknor and getting bhajji's ban lifted. Please take a look at the whole clip of the incident. Bhajji was "interacting" with Lee, not symonds. Whatever happened between them, is their matter. NOT symond's. Then in the video, you can see, that, symonds roped in, said something to bhajji first, then bhajji replied. For the moment forget what he said. And at that moment, sachin was near bhajji. no one else. then hayden comes in, clarke, and ponting. memorise this whole incident. If the whole incident was so serious, then you wouldnt see sachin smiling. anyways, then ponting goes to umpires and umpires have a word with bhajji.. at that moment, india was doing good in the match. if you watch the historical test matches of aussie, then you would realize that they were trying to sledge bhajji anyhow, because of frustration. i will continue in the post2

  • testli5504537 on January 13, 2008, 20:16 GMT

    After the test match, new rules need to be incorporated by ICC to give the other teams a perfect clarification (1) Ricky Ponting - (THE TRULY GENUINE CRICKETER OF THE CRICKET ERA AND WHOSE INTEGRITY SHOULD NOT BE DOUBTED ) should be considered as the FOURTH UMPIRE. As per the new rules, FOURTH UMPIRE decision is final and will over ride any decisions taken by any other umpires. ON-FIELD umpires can seek the assistance of RICKY PONTING even if he is not on the field. This rule is to be made, so that every team should understand the importance of the FOURTH UMPIRE . (2) While AUSTRALIAN TEAM is bowling, If the ball flies anywhere close to the AUSTRALIAN FIELDER(WITHIN 5 metre distance), the batsman is to be considered OUT irrelevant of whether the catch was taken cleanly or grassed. Any decision for further clarification should be seeked from the FOURTH UMPIRE . This is made to ensure that the cricket is played with SPORTIVE SPIRIT by all the teams...hey man BRING the TECHNOLOGY in

  • testli5504537 on January 13, 2008, 14:22 GMT

    Its a constant pattern with steve bucknor. Cannot be ignored at all. Hes done it in the past and it has hurt India really hard this time. Even a monkey could ve done better!

  • testli5504537 on January 13, 2008, 8:45 GMT

    Hey Markkk...your comments are surely off the Mark just like the indian team at SCG on the 5th day..when the famous line up could not save a test..3 wickets in 5 balls..wow how did the indians manage that? And as for the BCCI, well they generate revenues only from international matches and if there is no Aus/Eng/SA/WI touring india, there will be no revenues and no BCCI...So dont get carried away by the BCCI money power..its all due to the other cricketing nations..nobody in india watches domestic matches and if BCCI gets boycotted, they would be a defunct organisation like the ICL..And by the way have you got some excuses ready for the loss that india is going to face at Perth? What are they going to be? Not enough practise? Or that the team could not forget sydney? Or will it be the umpires again? And with regards to cheating, i vividly remember the delhi test v pakistan wherein captain Kumble was appealing for every catch (even if it was a mile away from the bat) or LBW (even if there were thick inside edges on to the pad) and the umpire upholding all those appeals. I wonder which team was playing within the spirit of the game that day? Atleast it was not India. I guess Indians should ask for that record to be anulled as well, as Indians are saints and dont appeal wrongly or cheat for a win.

  • testli5504537 on January 13, 2008, 7:01 GMT

    Yes I agree, However it is felt that it does not hold good for steve who is on panel of elite umpires (one of the best ten) looking at the standards of umpiring at sedney test even ICC had acknowledged that the umpiring at sedney test was not upto the mark, I therefore feel that he is 61 yrs old and his time is up he should retire rather than thrusting on ICC upto 2011

  • testli5504537 on January 13, 2008, 3:37 GMT

    Whereas poor umpiring standard at Sydney is a fact, India's demand to remove Steve Bucknor - and reportedly threatening to withdraw from the tour- should've been sternly dealt with by the ICC. In the end, the ICC is made to look like a fool, once again, and India the villain. I believe the next step would be to let the Indian players choose an umpire of their liking before a test match. And can the Indian fans tell me, in this entire episode of 1) poor umpiring by a neutral umpire and 2) Singh being banned by the ICC, what are the Australians being blamed for? Wake up India, you were never good outside the subcontinent. And your batsmen are traditionally afraid of fast bowlers. Frustrating as it may seem to you but you will have to swallow this fact sooner or later. Just because the BCCI is the financial powerhouse at the moment doesn't make you the team you wish to be. See you at the WACA.

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