The Week That Was ... November 21-28, 2005 November 27, 2005

Chappell's finger, and blues for the men in white

We take a look at the week that was ... Greg Chappell's finger lands him in trouble, more gloom in Zimbabwe, umpiring glitches, and what's in a World Cup name ...

Every Sunday, we take a look at the week that was ...



A TV grab purporting to show Greg Chappell making a gesture © Cricinfo

Extracting the digit Not even Billy Bowden's crooked finger has attracted as much media attention as Greg Chappell's alleged single-finger gesture in Kolkata. The crowd turned on India in the fourth ODI, cheered every boundary by South Africa, and chanted support for Sourav Ganguly, who had been replaced as Test captain by Rahul Dravid earlier in the week, and Chappell was seen on TV apparently giving a one-finger salute out of the window of the team bus to a group of protestors. Chappell, who has not enjoyed the best relationship with the Indian public in his time as coach, strenuously denied any wrongdoing, and a board spokesman explained that "Chappell had injured his finger during practice and he said he was just attending to it." By sticking it out of the window to give it some fresh air, presumably? The salute made the headlines and featured heavily on the news as well. Nobody ever pretended being India's coach was easy. But Chappell shouldn't feel too put upon. New captain Rahul Dravid and demigod Sachin Tendulkar were also booed by sections of the crowd at the post-match presentations.



Inzamam-ul-Haq is controversially run out © Getty Images

The men in white A tough week for umpires, both on pitch and the third variety. At Hobart, Brian Lara was given out caught behind to a ball which missed the edge by some distance, and at Faisalabad a series of dubious decisions - culminating in the run out of Inzamam-ul-Haq when even the TV commentators, never the most on-the-ball with the laws, immediately realised that he left his crease to avoid being hit - did the standing of the officials no favours. Nor did the non-referral of Ian Bell's caught-and-bowled dismissal of Mohammad Yousuf despite there being more than enough doubt over it. Common sense dictates that the relationship between the on-field umpires and their colleague in front of the TV monitor has to be two-way and that the man upstairs is not relegated to a yes or no role but has the right to draw his colleagues' attention to things. The ICC certainly seems to think that he can advise as well as adjudicate, but that doesn't seem to have sunk in to those on the front line. And can someone explain what the match referee was up to at Faisalabad? In a effort to get more overs in, he did not bring forward the start time (light issues meant that the days ended early anyway) but tinkered with the lunch and tea intervals on the last three days instead. So we had two-and-a-half-hour morning sessions, lunch at 12.07pm (naturally) and tea at an equally daft time. But two intervals total an hour, whenever you take them, and so his master plan achieved nothing, except confusion all round.



Brian Lara celebrates passing Allan Border's record © Getting Images

Record breaker Lara's career has been magnificent, and has also had its share of controversy. But his performances against Pakistan in the Caribbean in the summer were vintage Lara, and he overtook Allan Border's Test record of runs (11,174) on his way to 226 at Adelaide. While it depends on his appetite for the game, he should be the first man to pass 12,000 Test runs, if not 13,000. West Indies, who continue to lurch from setback to setback, will hope he goes on for some time yet.

Another good man departs Another sorry week in Zimbabwe with the resignation as captain and retirement from international cricket of Tatenda Taibu. Threatened twice - once, amazingly, in front of Peter Chingoka - and tired of the unacceptable approach of those running the game, he will now play his cricket overseas, and has already had offers from England, South Africa and Bangladesh. Few countries could afford to lose a player of Taibu's calibre. Zimbabwe have hemorrhaged so much talent, largely because of the board's mismanagement, that their best XI now would struggle to compete in club cricket. The pleas for help of the few trying to keep going against overwhelming odds have been ignored by the ICC and the boards of other countries, to their continuing shame.

What's in a name? The ICC might not want to get its hands dirty over what's happening in Zimbabwe, but it's determined that the World Cup in 2007 is not called by anything other than the official title. Well, one of the five official titles, actually. According to a media release, the event must only be referred to as the ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007; ICC Cricket World Cup 2007; ICC Cricket World Cup; ICC CWC 2007; or CWC 2007. Like the rest of the cricket world, we will be calling it the World Cup and preparing for a barrage of reminders from Dubai. If it is so strict over what we call the tournament, imagine what will happen to any spectators who arrive with the wrong cola ...



Jason Gillespie and his adoring English public © Getting Images

Glutton for punishment? During his best-forgotten summer in England with Australia, Jason Gillespie did little to endear himself to the paying public when he launched a broadside at the conduct of spectators who had taken to ridiculing him, as much for his gypsy mullet as for his dreadful bowling. It was, therefore, a little surprising when Yorkshire announced they had signed him for the 2006 season. While county crowds are not usually as vociferous or large as for internationals, they can be equally caustic ... and they also have long memories.

Pot and kettle award One winner this week, part-time spinner, part-time druid, Robert Croft, who slammed Shahid Afridi for "doing a Darren" on the Faisalabad pitch (Afridi's nimble footwork landed him a three-match ban). "He was just a silly, silly boy,' fumed Croft. 'It's sneaky, it's stupid and it's wrong. I just think it goes totally against everything within the game. It is a gentleman's sport, we go out there and play hard but you have to play within the rules." Yes, this is the same Robert Croft who in 1997 made the news headlines after a stand-up handbags-at-20-paces spat with Mark Illott during a domestic cup semi-final on prime-time TV.

One rule for you ... The least convincing argument by a pundit this week came from Sky's Bob Willis. Relegated to 4am starts in London with the ever cheerful Charles Colvile rather than a ring-side seat, Willis railed at Darrell Hair's decision to warn Salman Butt and dock a run for running down the pitch while batting, despite the umpire's explanation to Sky that he had spoken to Butt and other batsmen several times before invoking the new law. Willis said that Hair was being pedantic and implied that he was more worried about being seen and that he should just get on with the game and not bother about where the batsman ran. Willis neglected to explain how umpires would decide which laws they should ignore - perhaps disregard no-balls? - but it was symptomatic of Sky's studio coverage of the Faisalabad Test which often seemed determined to finding controversy or incident, even where there was none.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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