May 21, 2003

Speed: Umpires should have disciplined McGrath and Sarwan

Wisden CricInfo staff

Malcolm Speed, chief executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC), has stated that the umpires were wrong in failing to lay disciplinary charges following the controversial clash between Glenn McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan on the fourth day of the Antigua Test.

Umpires David Shepherd of England and India's Srinivas Venkataraghavan, described by Speed as "very experienced" officials took no action following the heated exchange between the pair. "Our view was that the series was played in a good spirit," Speed told reporters. "Our view was that in one incident, possibly another incident, charges should have been laid."

This was not the first time Steve Waugh's Australian side had been involved in such controversy, and Speed added: "This Australia team is one of the greatest teams we've seen in cricket. It would be a shame if it was remembered as a badly behaved team."

Speed said leading umpires had been told of their responsibility to lay charges where appropriate under a new disciplinary code at a meeting in Dubai last month. Under the new system it is the responsibility of the three umpires to bring charges before the match referee. Under the previous system the match referee acted as both prosecutor and judge.

Asked whether he would look to take action, Speed said there was nothing that he could do. "I only have the power to lay a charge within 24 hours" [of an incident happening]." He explained that the ICC board was looking at ways of giving him "greater latitude" in disciplinary matters. "Players make mistakes. Umpires make mistakes. We don't want the umpires to over-react," Speed insisted. "And if the on-field umpires haven't seen an incident there is nothing to stop the third umpire laying a charge."