November 14, 2008

Come on, umpires. Walk faster please

17

The Ricky Ponting over-rate controversy has been one of the more baffling episodes of recent times, but is something of a breakthrough for those who see slow play as one of the most inexcusable and avoidable blights on the game, a tedious tactic indulged for too long by the authorities.

Cricket has found some spectacular means of worsening its own product in recent times – the current craze for building stadiums which are inaccessible to those unable to paraglide, for example, or pitches as dead as WG Grace, or the rebranding of Bad Light to Mild Murk. Slow over-rates are proud members of this hall of shame, and it is curious that the fitter and more athletic players have become, the less able they have been to average one delivery every 40 seconds.

In my next blog, I will suggest some means of ensuring that over rates are crisp enough to prevent Gubby Allen spinning too dizzyingly in his grave. In the meantime, is it too much to ask for umpires to start setting a brisker example?

No slower human movement has ever been officially recorded than that of two umpires sludging towards each other to confer over the light, like a pair of amorous teenage tortoises unsure of whether to make the first move, or two unhappy commuters trying to miss the same train.

This is sometimes equalled by the funereal dawdle to co-examine the roundness of an allegedly-misshapen ball, as if this responsibility is a holy, god-given ritual as old as time itself, and the ball is a precious relic whose molecules must not be woken.

Such sloth might have been understandable in the olden days of cricket, when umpires were only allowed to stand when they had attained a sufficient age to guarantee that their eyesight had failed. Now, however, the game is officiated by primed, thrusting superathletes (or at least by fit and mostly youngish men who probably have gym memberships). And yet, at stages of matches when they might be expected to scurry urgently in the hope of providing an expectant crowd with maximum value for their considerable money, they seem to move as if they are adjusting tentatively to a brand new spinal cord. Chivvy along, gentlemen.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Souvik on November 20, 2008, 21:01 GMT

    Very funny & more than a trifle scathing. It makes me sad that humour has gone out a bit from Cricket commentary. The expert opinions & commentary aren't all that engaging to listen to - I am all for a little bit of idiosyncracy & fun. May be you'll write something on that too. I thought Ian Smith was pretty funny but he doesn't do commentary all that often.

    I really enjoyed reading through all your pieces. Hoping to read plenty more in the future.

  • sunnyvala on November 18, 2008, 14:21 GMT

    Hilarious...Even 10 yr old kids playing in our neighbourhood would play faster n try to finish the game when they sense rain coming their way..its high time international umps/players realize that countless people are waiting for that damn game to finish, so they can turn off the TV,catch some sleep n rush to their jobs next morning.

  • Aby on November 16, 2008, 18:15 GMT

    'No slower human movement has ever been officially recorded than that of two umpires sludging towards each other to confer over the light' - Hilarious Andy.Cricket to me is a celebration of life. There is nothing like watching Sachin Tendulkar bat on a Sunday afternoon. Cricket needs people like you to write, so that people like me can read and enjoy the game. Cheers!! Keep writing !!!

  • Harit on November 16, 2008, 12:25 GMT

    Really good stuff, Andy! I must say you write exceedingly well! Hope to see more of you on this site!

  • Mahesh on November 16, 2008, 11:12 GMT

    Great piece this. We have seen comments, criticisms and others in straight articles. People need something like this to actually push the point through. Nothing better than humor to make a realistic point. Great piece, Andy. Look forward to read more from you.

  • Ash on November 16, 2008, 4:14 GMT

    Hah funny. Welcome to Cricinfo!

  • Jonathan Taylor on November 15, 2008, 23:25 GMT

    Why do they even need to walk to each other? They can use their two-way radios to discuss whether they should confer about the light (instead of walking over to each other to confer about whether to confer about the light), and chuck the ball to each other if they want to check its shape. And then confer about the shape on their two-ways.

  • Kunal on November 15, 2008, 18:53 GMT

    right on there with the 'discussion of bad light' comment. Yeah, that particular walks looks as if they intentionally go slow!

    keep em coming, a great humor piece of this grt site

  • Minhaj on November 15, 2008, 15:57 GMT

    Umpires take too much time in making an LBW decision. So what is the problem if lbw decisions are also given by the third umpires if there are any benefit of doubts?

  • Ravikiran on November 15, 2008, 15:50 GMT

    Cricket is a sport that takes itself far too seriously. A blog like this is what Ravi Shastri's doctor ordered. Lets bring some frivolity into this game please. Thank you Andy.

  • Souvik on November 20, 2008, 21:01 GMT

    Very funny & more than a trifle scathing. It makes me sad that humour has gone out a bit from Cricket commentary. The expert opinions & commentary aren't all that engaging to listen to - I am all for a little bit of idiosyncracy & fun. May be you'll write something on that too. I thought Ian Smith was pretty funny but he doesn't do commentary all that often.

    I really enjoyed reading through all your pieces. Hoping to read plenty more in the future.

  • sunnyvala on November 18, 2008, 14:21 GMT

    Hilarious...Even 10 yr old kids playing in our neighbourhood would play faster n try to finish the game when they sense rain coming their way..its high time international umps/players realize that countless people are waiting for that damn game to finish, so they can turn off the TV,catch some sleep n rush to their jobs next morning.

  • Aby on November 16, 2008, 18:15 GMT

    'No slower human movement has ever been officially recorded than that of two umpires sludging towards each other to confer over the light' - Hilarious Andy.Cricket to me is a celebration of life. There is nothing like watching Sachin Tendulkar bat on a Sunday afternoon. Cricket needs people like you to write, so that people like me can read and enjoy the game. Cheers!! Keep writing !!!

  • Harit on November 16, 2008, 12:25 GMT

    Really good stuff, Andy! I must say you write exceedingly well! Hope to see more of you on this site!

  • Mahesh on November 16, 2008, 11:12 GMT

    Great piece this. We have seen comments, criticisms and others in straight articles. People need something like this to actually push the point through. Nothing better than humor to make a realistic point. Great piece, Andy. Look forward to read more from you.

  • Ash on November 16, 2008, 4:14 GMT

    Hah funny. Welcome to Cricinfo!

  • Jonathan Taylor on November 15, 2008, 23:25 GMT

    Why do they even need to walk to each other? They can use their two-way radios to discuss whether they should confer about the light (instead of walking over to each other to confer about whether to confer about the light), and chuck the ball to each other if they want to check its shape. And then confer about the shape on their two-ways.

  • Kunal on November 15, 2008, 18:53 GMT

    right on there with the 'discussion of bad light' comment. Yeah, that particular walks looks as if they intentionally go slow!

    keep em coming, a great humor piece of this grt site

  • Minhaj on November 15, 2008, 15:57 GMT

    Umpires take too much time in making an LBW decision. So what is the problem if lbw decisions are also given by the third umpires if there are any benefit of doubts?

  • Ravikiran on November 15, 2008, 15:50 GMT

    Cricket is a sport that takes itself far too seriously. A blog like this is what Ravi Shastri's doctor ordered. Lets bring some frivolity into this game please. Thank you Andy.

  • Krishna on November 15, 2008, 5:10 GMT

    Good Blog. Humorous vs Opinionated--former wins friends all the time. One suggestion--the langorous officials could have all the Eye See See rules ready on their palmtops and slap (Sorry Harbhajan) fines on all and sundry like Indian bus conductors.

  • Will Luke (Cricinfo) on November 14, 2008, 18:54 GMT

    Good plan, Enticer. On similar lines, perhaps we should have "items that went straight to the rubbish bin this week." Again...English cricket could be a regular nominee.

  • The Enticer on November 14, 2008, 18:49 GMT

    Welcome to cricinfo Andy.. Surprising to see you make three blog entries and not mention "The Bugle" even once. In case people dont know, it is the funniest (and only) audio newspaper you can download on the 'internets'. Andy, with the way the english cricketers played, I would like to nominate "English Cricket" as a hottie from history.. Your thoughts? Gone are the days when WG Grace used to lustily drive or Geoff Boycott would stay at the crease for a whole day and trouble to score keepers only a couple of times. Hope to see you post regularly..

  • Shantanu on November 14, 2008, 17:30 GMT

    Why not give each umpire a Segway(one of those infernal 2-wheeled upright scooter-like things). Cricket will be able to tout its environment-friendly credentials and let's be honest..who amongst us hasn't wanted to see an umpire fall ass over tea kettle onto the turf!

  • Ram on November 14, 2008, 15:56 GMT

    I once dozed off in the oh-so-small interval between Brett Lee appealing and Bucknor raising his finger.

  • Sachinfan on November 14, 2008, 15:27 GMT

    Hahaha! They are the funniest characters in a cricket field! Some umpires when they signal six and LBW etc takes ages.

  • Yogesh Zaveri on November 14, 2008, 15:19 GMT

    I'm a proffesional ump in Mumbai. And I laughed my guts out at the "...pair of amorous teenage tortoises...." bit. And I promise to walk faster. Not just when conferring with my collegue, but also between balls.

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  • Yogesh Zaveri on November 14, 2008, 15:19 GMT

    I'm a proffesional ump in Mumbai. And I laughed my guts out at the "...pair of amorous teenage tortoises...." bit. And I promise to walk faster. Not just when conferring with my collegue, but also between balls.

  • Sachinfan on November 14, 2008, 15:27 GMT

    Hahaha! They are the funniest characters in a cricket field! Some umpires when they signal six and LBW etc takes ages.

  • Ram on November 14, 2008, 15:56 GMT

    I once dozed off in the oh-so-small interval between Brett Lee appealing and Bucknor raising his finger.

  • Shantanu on November 14, 2008, 17:30 GMT

    Why not give each umpire a Segway(one of those infernal 2-wheeled upright scooter-like things). Cricket will be able to tout its environment-friendly credentials and let's be honest..who amongst us hasn't wanted to see an umpire fall ass over tea kettle onto the turf!

  • The Enticer on November 14, 2008, 18:49 GMT

    Welcome to cricinfo Andy.. Surprising to see you make three blog entries and not mention "The Bugle" even once. In case people dont know, it is the funniest (and only) audio newspaper you can download on the 'internets'. Andy, with the way the english cricketers played, I would like to nominate "English Cricket" as a hottie from history.. Your thoughts? Gone are the days when WG Grace used to lustily drive or Geoff Boycott would stay at the crease for a whole day and trouble to score keepers only a couple of times. Hope to see you post regularly..

  • Will Luke (Cricinfo) on November 14, 2008, 18:54 GMT

    Good plan, Enticer. On similar lines, perhaps we should have "items that went straight to the rubbish bin this week." Again...English cricket could be a regular nominee.

  • Krishna on November 15, 2008, 5:10 GMT

    Good Blog. Humorous vs Opinionated--former wins friends all the time. One suggestion--the langorous officials could have all the Eye See See rules ready on their palmtops and slap (Sorry Harbhajan) fines on all and sundry like Indian bus conductors.

  • Ravikiran on November 15, 2008, 15:50 GMT

    Cricket is a sport that takes itself far too seriously. A blog like this is what Ravi Shastri's doctor ordered. Lets bring some frivolity into this game please. Thank you Andy.

  • Minhaj on November 15, 2008, 15:57 GMT

    Umpires take too much time in making an LBW decision. So what is the problem if lbw decisions are also given by the third umpires if there are any benefit of doubts?

  • Kunal on November 15, 2008, 18:53 GMT

    right on there with the 'discussion of bad light' comment. Yeah, that particular walks looks as if they intentionally go slow!

    keep em coming, a great humor piece of this grt site