January 9, 2008

Bucknor's blackballing bodes badly

What will the dumping of umpire Steve Bucknor mean for attracting umpires in the future?
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Has Steve Bucknor (left) umpired his last match? © Getty Images
 
To lose one elite umpire could be considered unfortunate, but two in the space of 16 months smacks of extreme carelessness. First there was Darrell Hair, banished from the top table following his bust-up with Pakistan at The Oval in 2006. Now it's the turn of the most experienced man of the lot, Steve Bucknor, who's paid the price for an error-strewn showing at Sydney.

He's umpired in a record 120 Tests, as well as five World Cup finals, but Bucknor's future is uncertain to say the least. Like Hair, he has attracted the opprobrium of a powerful member of the Asian bloc, but unlike Hair, his blackballing doesn't even come with the proviso that his actions were correct within the letter of the law. Instead, in the opinion of the BCCI, his crime was "incompetence" and even allowing for the shrill levels of outrage that have been doing the rounds this week, you'd be hard-pressed to disagree.

On one level, Bucknor's removal from next week's Perth Test is a blessing. His presence on the field would have been a distraction, and the scrutiny to which he would have been subjected would have been unbearable even for a man of his vast experience - umpires are only human, as this week's events have overwhelmingly demonstrated. Malcolm Speed's explanation of the ICC's decision was that it would "alleviate the tension".

Sanity in the short-term, however, is a heavy price to pay for the precedent that this decision sets. Only 24 hours earlier, the ICC reiterated that there would be no change to the umpiring appointments for the Perth Test. A spokesman even invoked clause 3.1.7 of the playing conditions that both teams signed ahead of the series: "Neither team will have a right of objection to an umpire's appointment."

That ruling is up in smoke now, sacrificed on the altar of expediency as is too often the case in cricket's convoluted world. The BCCI have expressed satisfaction with the outcome, as well they might, although arrogantly, their sights have already been on what they describe as the bigger issue, the racism charge that has been levelled against Harbhajan Singh. Bucknor doesn't even get to be the main event in his hour of humiliation. Instead he has been left with his wings clipped in a hotel-room in Sydney, waiting to be whisked away from the mayhem.

At the age of 61, there's no knowing whether he'll be back, or whether he'll want to be back. There has long been a suspicion that his best days of officialdom are behind him - India still hasn't forgiven him for an lbw decision against Sachin Tendulkar at Brisbane in 2003-04 - but for the rest of the world, the overwhelming evidence was provided at the World Cup final in Barbados in April. Admittedly, he was just one of five men to concoct that particular farce, although it was his passivity as the senior on-field umpire that truly exacerbated the situation.

This isn't how he deserves to go out, however, nor how the game should wish him to go either, given the dread it will instill in anyone who dares to follow in his footsteps. Mark Benson is counting his blessings not to have been scheduled to stand at Perth (although his card is clearly marked), while even an ego the size of Billy Bowden's will surely house one or two fears when he steps out to replace Bucknor at the WACA.

Even so, the madness of the past week does seem to be drawing to a close. The flames of righteous indignation are beginning to die down, and while it is hardly the ideal solution, Brad Hogg's tit-for-tat citation for the use of the word "bastard" (a term of endearment in Aussie circles, a term of grievous insult among Indians) could yet be the filter through which Harbhajan's alleged monkey slur can be seen for the naïve, unthinking remark that it surely was.

But the forensic teams will be sifting through the charred remains of this contest for several weeks and months yet. What will become abundantly clear is the need for greater protection for the next generation of umpires - which means more recourse to replays, more breaks between games, and more respect from the players, some of whom made a mockery of the spirit of the game at Sydney.

But before that can happen, the replacements for stalwarts such as Bucknor need to be identified and nurtured, and it's not immediately obvious where they will come from. Tellingly, for all its riches, passion and power, India has not produced a top-class official since Srinivas Venkataraghavan. It's become clearer this week why that is the case. It's a mug's game in this modern world, where a billion armchair critics are better informed than the men out in the middle. In a week of madness, that's possibly the maddest thing of all.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • youssef on January 10, 2008, 22:21 GMT

    Some of these Indian supporters need to get over themselves. People such as vakkaraju are saying that Bucknor was blatantly biased towards the Australians. That is a despicable remark from someone who obviously knows nothing about the game. Steve Bucknor's integrity is not in question, even if his decision making in the second test is. Bucknor's eyes won't be as good as they used to be, but to suggest that Bucknor was anything other than neutral in the Sydney test match (and, indeed, throughout his career) shows a plain lack of respect for a man who has dedicated his life to the game. I often think that the Indian management and supporters think they have a right to always get their own way in the cricketing world because of the amount of revenue that India generates for the ICC. Unfortunately the ICC is caving in to the demands of the BCCI, as seen by the fact that they replaced Bucknor at the behest of the BCCI in contravention of their own playing conditions.

  • SriS on January 10, 2008, 21:22 GMT

    After officiating in more than 100 games Steve Bucknor deserves better treatment. No doubt some of the decisions were appalling but still did not deserve to be called as 'incompetent umpire'. What a shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rgovil on January 10, 2008, 19:39 GMT

    Living in USA we are still big fans of Cricket being played around the world. The test in Sydney fell to a new low. When 7-8 decisions go against one team, the test match becomes a farce! Ponting and Brett Lee are couple of players admired for their grit and fair play. I think Ponting has damaged his reputation in this test. He still fails to realize that if the game was played fairly then Australia would more likely have lost it and next time when he raises his finger the umpires will have this test in mind.

    While defending all his actions and celebrating he forgot the humility and fairness that brought him admiration. I think the game of cricket should be between batsmen and bowlers. Yelling obscenities for a well set batsmen referring to his wife and mother is not playing hard and it's not being a gentleman. Which brings me to conclusion. Cricket is a gentleman's game, let's keep it that way. Love for a team will come back, if you can play fairly & win.

  • loopa on January 10, 2008, 18:34 GMT

    man i don't know whats wrong with umpires in Australia who ever goes their start making wrong decisions and interestingly all mistakes go against the visiting team not Australia. if you remember few years back when pakistan and West Indies were their umpire Billy and co. gave 29 decision against the visiting teams in a triangular series. i think this is not a coincident. we have to bring technology in, thats the only solution.

  • Sunny_Bhai on January 10, 2008, 16:59 GMT

    Hey for all those ppl who believe that removal of steve bucknor was a crime. Tell me how should we have dealt with it when steve has done these grave mistakes not for the first time ...but am sure its been repeated consistently.Its better to drop the person who has done it consistently so that he could explore his actions and come out stronger. Is it rare that you find top performers getting to see the exit ? It has happened with a lot of cricket greats. So why this hue and cry for steve? But we should respect steve for one thing. He has decided not to speak out anything in public. This way he has avoided a lot of controversies that could have rose if he had chosen to reply. I would be pleased if he takes a vacation, ponders over his umpiring decisions and comes back to cricketing fraternity. Every one has a tough phase and am sure Steve would bounce back. Ultimately its Steve who has to decide whether he was consistently wrong or not. I just feel that Steve needs some rest to hit form

  • RandyT60 on January 10, 2008, 16:31 GMT

    Apologies Mr Bucknor. On behalf of the citizens of Australia I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to you. To think we now live in a world where possibly THE most respected cricket umpire in the world gets treated like some sort of naughty schoolboy is, I feel, appalling. To the BCCI and anyone who supports them, SHAME ON YOU. You rort the system to fit your own petty desires and stomp on anyone who stands in your way. You lost the test - GET OVER IT! Shall we go through the record books and point out all the suspect decisions that have gone in India's favour over the years - especially at home? Here's the truth Indians, the game of cricket is totally about character. Those who succeed in it must have character or be found wanting. The Indian team are full of good cricketers but are being found wanting (all bar Tendulkar). What does that tell you? Harbajhan tried it on and is now trying to hide behind mummy's skirt. And you have the gall to call US arrogant... HA!

  • wewillhaveabat on January 10, 2008, 14:57 GMT

    To Crick Connoisseur: Not everyone has forgotten what the game is about - refer my first entry below. By the way I agree with everything you said. Cricket is not a machine - it is an art form. Mind numbing the correct word - why such a big deal about this issue? Every other side in the world gets dud umpiring calls - what about Kasprowicz's caught behind? That one cost Australia the Ashes!

  • wewillhaveabat on January 10, 2008, 13:09 GMT

    Chilled Beer should be called shrilled beer. 'Your' batsmen (you said our below) were horrible. Someone else included RP Singh as a dodgy decision...well Benson gave him out, not Bucknor. Also, his non-shot was asking to be given out, same as Dhoni - I do not agree necesarily with the no shot offered interpretation of the LBW law - I am a purist after all, but this has been the case since the late 80's - look at Alderman in the 1989 Ashes series, poms were dropping like flies not offering a shot outside off stump. Really people, try to think of better arguments before going to print - this whinging does nothing for your credibility. Most people though are now getting it - India are not up to it and need to improve a lot very quickly.

  • pullyourheadsin on January 10, 2008, 12:45 GMT

    Could not agree more The_Wog. The cheating and double standards are coming from the BCCI and the Indian media and no one else. It is true the umpiring decisions did not go India's way in the Sydney test but the opposite was the case in Melbourne. The problem for India, despite the poor decision against Dravid, was they could not keep out a couple of part time spinners on a good wicket. They would have lost no matter what umpiring decisions were made.

  • Vijay-Chakravarthy on January 10, 2008, 11:49 GMT

    Dear Andrew It is more the ICC rules that stipulate -" a batsman has to walk once that finger goes up"- that is the culprit in this sordid drama.Appeals by the bowling side and by the batsman should have a third umpire referral.In present day terms a request for referral is treated as dissent and the player gets slapped with a fine or a ban.We do know the shortcomings of technology even in the days of Channel Nine three dimensional technicolour when it comes to close run outs , delicate nicks and perilously close takes near the grass.But technology can definitely be a useful arbiter when the human eye with its poor perception of vision , a huge parallax handicap and the human mind with a distinctive bias towards recent events cannot decide in black and white.

  • youssef on January 10, 2008, 22:21 GMT

    Some of these Indian supporters need to get over themselves. People such as vakkaraju are saying that Bucknor was blatantly biased towards the Australians. That is a despicable remark from someone who obviously knows nothing about the game. Steve Bucknor's integrity is not in question, even if his decision making in the second test is. Bucknor's eyes won't be as good as they used to be, but to suggest that Bucknor was anything other than neutral in the Sydney test match (and, indeed, throughout his career) shows a plain lack of respect for a man who has dedicated his life to the game. I often think that the Indian management and supporters think they have a right to always get their own way in the cricketing world because of the amount of revenue that India generates for the ICC. Unfortunately the ICC is caving in to the demands of the BCCI, as seen by the fact that they replaced Bucknor at the behest of the BCCI in contravention of their own playing conditions.

  • SriS on January 10, 2008, 21:22 GMT

    After officiating in more than 100 games Steve Bucknor deserves better treatment. No doubt some of the decisions were appalling but still did not deserve to be called as 'incompetent umpire'. What a shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rgovil on January 10, 2008, 19:39 GMT

    Living in USA we are still big fans of Cricket being played around the world. The test in Sydney fell to a new low. When 7-8 decisions go against one team, the test match becomes a farce! Ponting and Brett Lee are couple of players admired for their grit and fair play. I think Ponting has damaged his reputation in this test. He still fails to realize that if the game was played fairly then Australia would more likely have lost it and next time when he raises his finger the umpires will have this test in mind.

    While defending all his actions and celebrating he forgot the humility and fairness that brought him admiration. I think the game of cricket should be between batsmen and bowlers. Yelling obscenities for a well set batsmen referring to his wife and mother is not playing hard and it's not being a gentleman. Which brings me to conclusion. Cricket is a gentleman's game, let's keep it that way. Love for a team will come back, if you can play fairly & win.

  • loopa on January 10, 2008, 18:34 GMT

    man i don't know whats wrong with umpires in Australia who ever goes their start making wrong decisions and interestingly all mistakes go against the visiting team not Australia. if you remember few years back when pakistan and West Indies were their umpire Billy and co. gave 29 decision against the visiting teams in a triangular series. i think this is not a coincident. we have to bring technology in, thats the only solution.

  • Sunny_Bhai on January 10, 2008, 16:59 GMT

    Hey for all those ppl who believe that removal of steve bucknor was a crime. Tell me how should we have dealt with it when steve has done these grave mistakes not for the first time ...but am sure its been repeated consistently.Its better to drop the person who has done it consistently so that he could explore his actions and come out stronger. Is it rare that you find top performers getting to see the exit ? It has happened with a lot of cricket greats. So why this hue and cry for steve? But we should respect steve for one thing. He has decided not to speak out anything in public. This way he has avoided a lot of controversies that could have rose if he had chosen to reply. I would be pleased if he takes a vacation, ponders over his umpiring decisions and comes back to cricketing fraternity. Every one has a tough phase and am sure Steve would bounce back. Ultimately its Steve who has to decide whether he was consistently wrong or not. I just feel that Steve needs some rest to hit form

  • RandyT60 on January 10, 2008, 16:31 GMT

    Apologies Mr Bucknor. On behalf of the citizens of Australia I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to you. To think we now live in a world where possibly THE most respected cricket umpire in the world gets treated like some sort of naughty schoolboy is, I feel, appalling. To the BCCI and anyone who supports them, SHAME ON YOU. You rort the system to fit your own petty desires and stomp on anyone who stands in your way. You lost the test - GET OVER IT! Shall we go through the record books and point out all the suspect decisions that have gone in India's favour over the years - especially at home? Here's the truth Indians, the game of cricket is totally about character. Those who succeed in it must have character or be found wanting. The Indian team are full of good cricketers but are being found wanting (all bar Tendulkar). What does that tell you? Harbajhan tried it on and is now trying to hide behind mummy's skirt. And you have the gall to call US arrogant... HA!

  • wewillhaveabat on January 10, 2008, 14:57 GMT

    To Crick Connoisseur: Not everyone has forgotten what the game is about - refer my first entry below. By the way I agree with everything you said. Cricket is not a machine - it is an art form. Mind numbing the correct word - why such a big deal about this issue? Every other side in the world gets dud umpiring calls - what about Kasprowicz's caught behind? That one cost Australia the Ashes!

  • wewillhaveabat on January 10, 2008, 13:09 GMT

    Chilled Beer should be called shrilled beer. 'Your' batsmen (you said our below) were horrible. Someone else included RP Singh as a dodgy decision...well Benson gave him out, not Bucknor. Also, his non-shot was asking to be given out, same as Dhoni - I do not agree necesarily with the no shot offered interpretation of the LBW law - I am a purist after all, but this has been the case since the late 80's - look at Alderman in the 1989 Ashes series, poms were dropping like flies not offering a shot outside off stump. Really people, try to think of better arguments before going to print - this whinging does nothing for your credibility. Most people though are now getting it - India are not up to it and need to improve a lot very quickly.

  • pullyourheadsin on January 10, 2008, 12:45 GMT

    Could not agree more The_Wog. The cheating and double standards are coming from the BCCI and the Indian media and no one else. It is true the umpiring decisions did not go India's way in the Sydney test but the opposite was the case in Melbourne. The problem for India, despite the poor decision against Dravid, was they could not keep out a couple of part time spinners on a good wicket. They would have lost no matter what umpiring decisions were made.

  • Vijay-Chakravarthy on January 10, 2008, 11:49 GMT

    Dear Andrew It is more the ICC rules that stipulate -" a batsman has to walk once that finger goes up"- that is the culprit in this sordid drama.Appeals by the bowling side and by the batsman should have a third umpire referral.In present day terms a request for referral is treated as dissent and the player gets slapped with a fine or a ban.We do know the shortcomings of technology even in the days of Channel Nine three dimensional technicolour when it comes to close run outs , delicate nicks and perilously close takes near the grass.But technology can definitely be a useful arbiter when the human eye with its poor perception of vision , a huge parallax handicap and the human mind with a distinctive bias towards recent events cannot decide in black and white.

  • Skamruddin on January 10, 2008, 11:15 GMT

    I dobnt believe Steve Bucknor has any bias towards the Indian team and it was a case of having a really bad day. I agree that he should not be allowed to go like this and if he has to go once and for all, the ICC should do more to see that he retires from Cricket with his Dignity intact. Anyone deserves atleast that much. Its not Steve Bucknor who is incompetent, it is the ICC. They just sit on their backsides and talk, sometimes nonsensicl things, when they should be finding ways to groom more umpires.

  • SteelMen on January 10, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    The outcry on dropping Bucknor after a very bad match is a non starter. It happens in other sports too. check out the case of referee GRAHAM POLL,who before WC'06 was tipped as potential final match referee but left for home in disgrace, after showing 3 yellow cards to 1 player before dismissing him. The EPL also drops referees after a bad game, check out news on Ref ROB STYLES being dropped after the Liverpool Chelsea match at Anfield. The referee and the League officials APOLOGISED to Liverpool, also the ref was dropped for the next round of matches. FIFA/EPL allows for this & take into account the ref performance/form. If Cricket has few (good)umpires, then ICC has to develop umpiring standards in a better manner, train and recruit more people. Surprisingly, no one questioned Liverpool of throwing its weight around when the ref got sacked but India is supposed to be doing so if incompetent umps are sacked. Ppl grow up, stop accusing India unfairly without assessing sitn properly

  • Crick_Connoisseur on January 10, 2008, 8:21 GMT

    In all this mayhem, people seem to have forgotten that the beauty of cricket lies in its imperfections and unpredictability; an umpiring error or two is an integral part of it. It kind of lends a 'unique real life' feel to a sport where extraneous factors also influence the outcome. Having said that, there's no way one can justify the sheer number of errors that were made at SCG. But the kind of reaction we have seen is mind numbing. The allegations of Bucknor being biased against 'us' are mindless. Stochastically, Bucknor must have ruled in India's favour quite a few times as well but courtesy the selective reality we are so used to being fed by our wonderful film industry we have become intellectually blind. Sacking of Mr.Bucknor is a sad, sad event. Memories of bowlers' reactions transforming from an endless wait to ecstasy after the gentleman's nod would forever remain with me. But then who enjoys such moments these days when 6 sixes in an over is as interesting as Orkut profiles!

  • achalashwin on January 10, 2008, 7:26 GMT

    Umpires are professionals right? What do professionals get when they mess up regularly? First, they get warned and put on probation. If they continue to mess up, they get fired. That is what happens in any company. Incompetence cannot be condoned for long. If this was a one off case, you can ignore it.

  • maximus_vik on January 10, 2008, 4:53 GMT

    I understand that cricket is a game steeped in tradition where umpires are supposed to be neutral and there say is final. But times have changed and cricket must change with the times or time will eventually change cricket for ever. The issue with Steve Bucknor is simple is he competent enough to still offciate in a test match. On the envidence of what transpired on the five days of the Sydney test match the answer is a resounding NO. The future does seem very bleak for him and the other umpire officating in the test match. If they happened to be working in a corporate environment and made the same kind of blunders they did in the Sydney test match, firing them from their positions would be but a formality. Why should test cricket be any different?

  • vakkaraju on January 10, 2008, 3:36 GMT

    The real issue is not Mr. Bucknor's competence or his overall credentials. It is his perceived bias against the Indian Team. India's complaints against him are long, dating back years. This just happens to be last straw on the camel's back. Mr. Bucknor from mocking Dravid in Australia in '03-04, to giving Tendulkar out helmet before wicket, has had a long history. Please do not be conned by his 96% accuracy rating. He may indeed be the most accomplished umpire but the open bias exibited by Mr. Bucknor should also be condemned

  • bindas_perfect on January 10, 2008, 3:35 GMT

    Hold on... 3rd test is abt to begin. Umpire changed, now india should move on with a bang and win the test. This will be answer to bucknor decisions.

  • spiper on January 10, 2008, 3:14 GMT

    The ICC is playing the fool. India & Pakistan need's to be put in their place. Remember Chris Broad? Game officials need more power not less. Let the Umpires control the game. Get rid of "HAWKEYE" keep the crease cameras, let players indicate 4 or 6 when the ball crosses the boundary. Anyone who has played any form of cricket knows wether he has caught or edged a ball. If a player edges a ball and is not given out and boasts about it after he or she should be sanctioned. I am sure Symonds agrees with me on this. Come on ICC take charge of the game and not let the BCCI pull your strings ye men of no substance.

  • sydboys on January 10, 2008, 0:47 GMT

    This is for the guy called Cook, mate Symonds been called 'monkey' not because of his skin colour it was just because of his monkey like hair style. Next time, please be more vigilant before you post any comments. Thank you.

  • stanlee on January 10, 2008, 0:06 GMT

    bucknor's removal was the only logical way for the ICC to go.Here was an umpire who had messed up big time on India's previous tour to Australia,and here he was doing the same thing again.Bucknor's errors defy explanation, and to me suggests an ulterior motive, because these are not the type of mistakes that are easily explained away, especially by an elite umpire.The WICB of course, would see it differently, and instead of assisting the ICC in this difficult matter, have elected to close ranks to protect one of their own.The Board, who is mainly Afrocaribbean in its makeup, is notoriously incompetent in the handling of its affairs. Because of the makeup of its selection panel a certain group of players is continually bypassed. Given this sad reality,I don't believe the WICB can legitimately question the ICC when so much is wrong in its own pasture.

  • denesh on January 9, 2008, 23:19 GMT

    I'm fed up of all this moaning from India fans. The facts are there. You all are getting mash up by an Australian team that you promised to compete with at the beginning of the tour. Now you need to make excuses for YOUR TEAMS incompetence. No batting line-up like the one India have should have collapsed like it did in that test match. And ask for bad umpiring, I remember when Indias "great" umnpire Venkat tief out 5 west indian batsmen at Lords in 2000; 5! which caused us to lose the match and ultimately lose the series. Did we want to remove Venkat? Did we want to call off the tour? Did we make racial slurs against the England players? no. We just got on with it, which India should do.

  • Jay_Markham on January 9, 2008, 22:46 GMT

    I do not believe that Bucknor was imcompetent, rather it was his bias against the indian team that motivated his actions. There were over 9 critical errors against India! How many against Australia? I agree with India's decision not to proceed with an umpire who was so blatantly baised agaist them. On the field they were playing against both Australia and the Umpires. Australian players seem to enjoy sledging when they are dishing it out but go running to the umpire when they are on the receiving end. They are playing international cricket not a sunday afternoon match with their buddies and should conduct themselves accordingly. In short ICC should provide better umpiring & everyone should shut up and play the game. Play on!

  • Nampally on January 9, 2008, 22:16 GMT

    While Mr. Miller is right in principle but he should put himself as an Indian cricketer and look at the frustration Mr. Buckners' decisions have caused. The errors Buckner made were glaring- bordering on strong bias towards Symmonds - at least 5 wrong decisions in favour of Symmonds. How can a Stalwart of 120 tests make such blatant mistakes unless his eyesight, hearing and judgement are all failing simultaneously. Mark Benson also made as many errors but they were divided between more than 3 players.Unfortunately all these decisions went against India causing them to lose the Test match instead of winning it. In an age of TV replays there is no place for such errors. As far Harbhajan and Hodge incidents, ban Sledging to avoid them or resolve them on the field as and when they occur. Symonds was the instigator in Harbhajan's incident. Hence he should be penalised as well, as happens in Canadian Ice Hockey.

  • EndOfCricket on January 9, 2008, 21:40 GMT

    Just two things - Sunil Gavaskar in 1981 and BCCI in 2001 in SA. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. It will now become very interesting with the West Indies becoming upset over Bucknor's sacking. Primary school children display more maturity than international cricket boards. Maybe it's time for a Kerry Packer style breakaway group or maybe it's just the end of the game.

  • mistathug0615 on January 9, 2008, 21:30 GMT

    i agree with andrew. one bad game and you change the umpires what happened with 20+ yrs. india need to come up with a way to beat Australia not by sacking umpires. india plays cricket with money and BCCI thinks they control world cricket. i'm a born indian and the way i see it india needs to shut-up and focus on cricket stop the monkey business because it killing the game we all love. Australia is the team to beat you don't see Australia complaining when they loose (2005 ashes) they didn't sack any umpires they went back home and train hard and they got results. indians needs to step up and play good cricket, bat longer, field better (a bunch of lazy legs) take 20 wickets and stop blaming the officials, stop calling people monkey. focus on cricket what you get pay to do.

  • mistathug0615 on January 9, 2008, 21:06 GMT

    i agree with andrew, this is ridiculous one bad game and you change the umpire. this all happens because india cannot come up with a way to beat Australia. the indians plays cricket with money and the BCCI thinks they control cricket. i'm a born indian and indian cricket its always about who they can buy its all run by bookies. so the indian team needs to concentrate on how to beat australia instead of sacking umpires they need to bat longer field better (a bunch of lazy legs) try to beat australia by playing cricket and not call anyone a monkey. be professional utilize the talents you have. Australia plays good cricket they play to win as a bunch. india plays for stats and to stay in the side.

  • luvckt on January 9, 2008, 20:37 GMT

    I cannot understand whats the problem with all the EXPERTS out there. Bucknor should have been long time back. He WAS a good umpire, not anymore. His decisions have consistently afftected India (in the wrong way). Not just umpiring alone defines him, his character too. I dont know how many remember, but he was seen on camera making fun of Dravid a while back (pretending to wipe the ball with toungue). He should have gone back then. As many who have posted here mentioned, it is a salaried job & you get appraised periodically. if it was my job, I would have been let go long time back for the pathetic performance on the job. For all the pathetic people who manage BCCI, finally they managed to the right thing & they should be applauded.

  • mkazmi on January 9, 2008, 20:33 GMT

    Some other additional changes that can be implemented: - Give each team 2 decisions in each innings which they can refer to the third umpire for review. The third umpire can overrule the ruling on the pitch if the evidence suggests. Only captains and coaches can ask for the review and it would need to be done before the next ball is delivered - Penalize players for not walking when they know that they are out and later gloat about it, for example A. Symonds in the recent Test indicated that he knew he was out but did not walk

  • mkazmi on January 9, 2008, 20:33 GMT

    - Have captains and coaches of each side submit a report on officials after the end of every Test series. The reports should be discussed with the officials involved and an overall evaluation score should be used to evaluate each official. If the official's score goes below a certain score then he should be placed on probation for the next series and if the official's score and performance continues to deteriorate, they should be suspended from the elite panel for up to 6 months - Have a mandatory retirement age of 58 or 60 years for umpires. This could be also reviewed on a case-by-case basis where if a certain official is consistently getting good evaluation scores and is performing well then a provision can be put in place to have their retirement age increased by another 2 years

  • mkazmi on January 9, 2008, 20:32 GMT

    I believe ICC should implement the following changes for cricket officials, particularly umpires: - Have them undergo annual physical evaluations, including eye exams. This will ensure that the officials are in good health, do not have a pysch disorder or any other stresses and have good eyesight. Officials not undergoing these evaluations or not doing well in the evaluations should be suspended from officiating for up to 6 months or whatever the physician deems appropriate - Increase the number of umpires in the elite panel from 8 to 15. With test matches going on concurrently in newzeland, australia, and s. africa, plus the arrival of Twenty20 and numerous ODIs, you need more than just 8 umpires to travel across the globe for multiple games - Limit the number of Tests, ODIs, and Twenty20s and official can umpire or referee in a year

  • believer on January 9, 2008, 20:28 GMT

    check this out i've just taken the sports package for two reasons to see W/Indies vs S/Africa and India vs Australia but for a real contest Ind/Aus $150.00 US I was excited as a puppy i have all the history between these two teams an man if you love good hard cricket this is the series the first one gone Aus.victory first day gone in second test so i strapted in for what promised to be a block buster what i got was not what i bargained for and quite frankley if i never see it in my lifetime again i will only be to please. IT IS a heavy blow to this wonderful sport.shame on both teams, and to all who tries to defend such behaviour what dose professional mean? MR.ICC are you kidding me...............

  • canuck on January 9, 2008, 20:14 GMT

    The_Wog has condemned Harbajjan as a racist based on Andrew Symmond's word that he said it. The umpires did not hear it, Punter did not hear it, no audio or video evidence, nothing. Now that Symond's has confirmed that he 'had a crack' at Harbajjan before the so-called 'monkey' utterance, What did Symond's say to Harbajjan to start this whole mess?

  • jsolo on January 9, 2008, 20:10 GMT

    Just to clarify, in the match I watched, India lost because they could not keep three wickets in tact against a part time spinner with 5 minutes to go in the game. In spite of everything, the game could have been, and should have been, easily drawn. It amazes me to think that "with correct decisions, India would have won the match." Who people "think" would have won the match is irrelevant. It seems to me that better teams usually get the better calls. What the ICC should think about doing is

    A. More umpires, on the panel and in each game (why can't four work a game, switching by session or day)?

    B. A "challenge" system to refer selected decisions to technology.

    C. A rigorous system of evaluation of umpires.

    D. Do away altogether with players appealing. The umpires should make the decisions, the players should have no say in them.

    E. Less cricket. Too much is destroying players' bodies and umpires psyches.

  • Bagha_Bangalee on January 9, 2008, 20:05 GMT

    Re: Brad Hogg's tit-for-tat citation for the use of the word "bastard" (a term of endearment in Aussie circles, a term of grievous insult among Indians)

    unquote:

    If your parents were not married when you were born, I for one would understand your liking for the b-word.

    Those of us brought up in missionary schools somewhere in the Indo-Pak sub-continent never heard the word nor did we use it.

    Pardon us for not being so endearing when it matters!

    Monkey is racist, but bastard is endearing.

    I guess being racist is endearing to some also!

  • davemustaine on January 9, 2008, 20:02 GMT

    I just cant comprehend why is everybody so peeved about the Bucknor issue , wouldn't it just benefit the game if an umpire who has gone past his sell-date steps down than ruining games based on his decisions? This aint just about the last match, i am talking in general here. I rather see Simon Taufel stand in even if he isn't a neutral umpire, given he would make a few bad decisions too but 6-8 bad decisions in one game!! and top that with an attitude not to refer the TV replays just makes Bucknor look headstrong and stupid!

  • N.K.Raju on January 9, 2008, 19:54 GMT

    ICC took a right decision at the right time. Yes, I agree that Steve Bucknor is incompetent to stand as umpire in any future cricket match. Steve Bucknor is a bad example for umpires though there are great unpires like Simon Taufel.99% Simon Taufel's decisions are seem to be correct, why not others??. I really respect Simon where as Bucknor's umpiring turned the match result into worng direction. When there is technology, why not Bucknor used it??. Same applies to Benson. As an umpire, how can you ask Ricky ponting for giving out? when he- himself is not loyal..Is he the third umpire, Mr.Benson??..Pls act as a representative of ICC. Mr.Speed took the right action and most of the people welcome this...Great job Mr.Speed...Hopefully ICC representatives will be more neutral in upcoming matches...

  • s_rav on January 9, 2008, 19:51 GMT

    I don't quite understand how M. Proctor made the decision in the racism row. None of the umpires heard anything and Tendulkar ( whose words could be believed since he is the only character in this whole drama with an impeccable reputation) is sure Harbhajan didn't say the "M" word. On what basis could Proctor take into confidence the claims of Symonds(hardly an angel), Hayden ( hardly 'religious' as is made out) , Gilly (used to lying/sledging behind the stumps all his life) and finally Ponting( who is no longer credible after all these antics).

    I think these guys had a thing or two against Harbhajan and wanted him banned. The claim that Ponting is the best contemporary batsman is beloney- He has been a bunny of Harbhajan. No great batsman is anyone's bunny- Bradman was nobody's Bunny, Viv Richards was nobody's bunny, Tendulkar is nobody's bunny(infact he has thrashed all around the park a blonde leggie who has made many good batsmen his bunnies).

  • aardvark on January 9, 2008, 19:50 GMT

    Bucknor's recent goofs do speak against him and sacking him should (we hope) make the officiating less controversial in Perth. However, all that was going on during the game was so much in favor of the Australian side that its hard to believe it was simply umpiring mistakes. Umpires/Referees do know when they make mistakes ultimately things balance out by the end of a game - But this one was outrageously in favor of Australia right through the end. I've always felt that the 3rd ump should be more involved in a game - doesn't make sense to break the flow in a sport like football(soccer) but here, it does. Simple things such as 'did the ball pitch in line?'. They could also choose to override certain decisions in the middle if the 3rd ump or the match referee felt it was wrong. The flip-side is that it would only contribute to more incompetencies among the officiating crew - but at least there would be fair results and an entire series would not be decided based on bad decisions.

  • loopa on January 9, 2008, 19:37 GMT

    First, Bucknor recently has been making a lot of mistaks that is not tollerable. He,s 60 years old and i think umpires should retire from the game bcoz science proved that at that age your mind can not work as you could work in younger age. Second what the heck is wrong with cricket board why don't they allow to use technology so they can reduce the human error. Everywhere in the world people have been useing technology in all games and they got very good results i think we can leave a very good effect if we use technology like zoomer, Hawk-eye, Hot spot, sincko meter and super slow.

  • MasterClass on January 9, 2008, 19:28 GMT

    It's about time someone made the issue of umpire competency and accountability a priority. If this sets a precedence then that's good! Who better than the BCCI.

    The ICC is so full of incompetent wonks with cave-age techno-phobic mentality! BOOT THEM ALL. And as far as the group of Elite umpires go...don't make me puke! FIRE THEM ALL!!

    Bring in the professionals, bring in the technology, bring in the confidence (in the results), bring in the profits!

    If not the days of test cricket are numbered.

  • SRao on January 9, 2008, 19:05 GMT

    Excellent article...very thought-provoking especially Andrew Miller's comments about setting a precedent. But Andrew, I think, it all boils down to one thing...incompetence. It's not Bucknor's first egregious mistake, he's made them often enough for people outside of India and Australia to take notice...you simply can't ignore that. I don't support your glib remark about Indians not being able to produce a world-class umpire. There's no causality you prove with a sweeping statement like that...that's uncalled for.

    At this level, the pressures and expectations are high. If players don't perform , they're sacked. If umpires don't, they need to be sacked too. If you think cricket umpires have it tough, watch a game of baseball in America's MLB.

    There's too much at stake in a cricket match these days. Umpires need to know that their authority is not supreme nor are their decisions above scrutiny. Bucknor needs to realize he screwed up badly and had to be let go...simple as that.

  • canuck on January 9, 2008, 19:02 GMT

    The umpiring in the test was attrocious to say the least. Someone had to be fired and if it was Bucknor then so be it. In any other job, Bucknor would have been fired long ago. If we continue to accept glaring errors in test matches using the same old 'they are humans' excuse, then it is only going to get worse. Thsi is not to say Bucknor was a bad umpire, but of late he has been extremely lackadaisical and has passed his 'best before' time.

  • ChilledBeer on January 9, 2008, 19:01 GMT

    Good riddance. Bucknor should be sacked for good. The senile fool has lost his senses completely. And as for India flexing its muslces, yes WE WILL. Dismiss three of our main batsmen out like cheats, and we wont keep quiet. Let ICC try to run cricket without the Asian countries.

  • ActivBean on January 9, 2008, 18:58 GMT

    Your defence of Bucknor and Australians is weak. Bucknor has a history of hurting India. If you saw Dhoni's dismissal, his desperation showed his total lack of faith in the umpires. You need an extra 3 stumps to give that out, and it was still given. How do play in circumstances where you fear being given out no matter if the ball touches your bat or pad. Actually for Australia umpires had a very good game. They were listening to them(how Ponting made sure Ganguly goes back) but were totally deaf for Indian calls(Bucknor refusing to refer to the 3rd umpire). And you want us to wait till the end of the series when it would be a whitewash for us, and Australia crowned the greatest side ever. As for the monkey abuse, the question is who do you trust, the constant sledgers-win-at-all-cost Australians or Sachin who has a exemplary history of fair play. Also Proctor fined Latif for 5 matches for what Ponting has done, but that is not even discussed. If this is not racism you tell me what is

  • ChilledBeer on January 9, 2008, 18:57 GMT

    Is this a joke? Bucknor is an expert? A legend? Wht horrible double standards do these cricket-writers have? Someone has to ask Bucknor WTF he was thinking when he gave Dravid out. Thats not a mistake. Thats a scam, and he has fixed the match. Good riddance to the old bastard

  • Prodi on January 9, 2008, 18:52 GMT

    I cannot understand what the big issue is about sacking incompetent umpires who alter the result of a test match due to their incompetencies.

    1. There needs to be a 'points' system of evaluation of all umpires, especially so-called 'elite' umpires. If you fall below a baseline, off you go.

    2. More technology needs to be brought in to assist with making decisions. The people who most object to this are the same people who would agree how helpful third-umpire decisions are when it comes to determining 'run outs'.

    3. Lastly, just get sledging out of the cricket ground. Period. Nobody should be allowed to sledge. I cannot think of one good reason to allow sledging.

  • buckSteve on January 9, 2008, 18:44 GMT

    do you guys think if bucknor is removed the issue will be solved. poor guys, the root cause is not bucknor, it is the Australia board and ponting team who are able to take over the entire officiating group. All the umpires were at fault in Sydney test. Why r v pointing only Bucknor, why not third umpire who is looking at the match all the available technology in the world. I should say, just ban australian team out of cricket, they stopped playing cricket long time, only playing tricks all the time.

  • energy on January 9, 2008, 18:43 GMT

    The Indian cricket board I think made a miscalculation in calling for Bucknor's head. The best punishment for Bucknor would have been to officiate through another India Australia test. As a self respecting umpire he would have suffered torture every time a close call came about.

  • kapitankool on January 9, 2008, 18:27 GMT

    Why is everyone willing to give the benefit of doubt to Bucknor? He has been giving bad decisions against India for the last few years. How come an otherwise competant umpire becomes far less competant, when India is involved. This smacks of bias, or worse. Anyway why was he allowed back on the panel after his performance in the World Cup Final. Why does the elite panel have so few umpires? Why is the ICC doing nothing to enhance such an important part of the game?

  • Giacamo009 on January 9, 2008, 18:26 GMT

    I just dont get why we cannot have a limited number of TV referrals challenges to the umpires decisions in cricket just like in tennis. I really enjoyed watching these referrals put into action during last year's wimbledon. It added an entire new dimension to the game and the spectators loved it. And its not as if umpires are being kicked out of the game. Its just a tool to help them out and as Osman Samiuddin pointed out, challenging them to get better at making decisions. Plus they will be able to work without a wrong decision affecting the outcome of the match and burdening their conscience. Although most of the technology is not foolproof, it will certainly reduce the amount of wrong decisions.

  • wewillhaveabat on January 9, 2008, 18:13 GMT

    Wincowalker: Of course we care! Why else is there so much press and opinions being vented! The sacking of Bucknor is terrible. Steve has been making mistakes for years. Why single him out now? His replacement, Billy has made plenty of errors too. And all this about incompetence? Has anyone reading never made a mistake at work? Yeah, I bet...and sacked? If so, how many still have jobs. And sledging? Everyone makes it sound like the Aussies invented it. Sledging is as old as the game - its papa smurf is an Englishman - WG Grace. The Australians can take sledging, not racial taunts. He has copped it from crowds, Sreesanth and now Bhaji. Enough please. Individuals are not bigger than the game - remember that. It is the game that matters - why should the BCCI hold the game to ransom? Why is Symonds a cheat for not walking? Ponting put this to all the captains 2 yrs ago, they all voted not to walk. Come on people, lets get on with the game, bring on Perth!!

  • Balwant on January 9, 2008, 18:10 GMT

    It is the billion armchair critics which make the bread and butter of the likes of Andrew Miller and are they not supposed to protest against the blatantly biased umpiring decisions? Any school grade cricketer will tell you that 50% decisions going in favour of the Indians would have seen the series level 1-1 at this point of time and that would have added to the excitement of this game. Instead, the ICC mandarins (still living in the old British Raj) chose to support the erring parties. How is it that Procter who handed a ban of 5 ODIs to Rashid Latif a few years back has allowed Ponting and Clerk go scot free for the same offence? Is this not racism? Cite a single 50-50 decision that has gone in favour of the Indians in this series pronounced by Bucknor. Is this not racism? If the charges of racism are to be levelled against anyone, they have to be against Procter and Benson. And Procter chose to take the words of Hayden and Symonds against Harbhajan & Sachin.Proof enough?

  • Sri7 on January 9, 2008, 17:55 GMT

    According to the article it seems that Mr.Bucknor must be allowed to officiate till he "chooses" to "honorably" retire. If you can see the decisions he made in the match and still recommend him for further role at the highest level - you should seriously rethink.

    Agreed that no board should force ICC's actions; but they do have a option of protesting and that's what BCCI did.

    Mr.Symonds played the ball away from his body .. there was a sound .. ball deviated after it touched the bat .. that is OUT mate.

    I have read comments from Indian public which were far fetched and confirms the fact that they were made by arm-chair critics. But reading this article (especially the reason why great umpires haven't come from India excluding Mr. S.Venkataraghavan) .. it seems that Mr. Miller has his own arm-chair on the other side of the fence !!!

  • rocky on January 9, 2008, 17:54 GMT

    was just lookin at the 2005 tour of windes to australia, poor umpiring standards, decisions against key players like lara where given wrong.mmh...unusual thing in aus...except a few like sangakara in lankan tour,dravid in sydney test.only the key ones otherwise they are 90% accurate.the reasons cited are always human error,the elite panel of umpires are only 8-9 'n there r too many matches being and the workload takes its toll. ofcourse but what r the changes made to help this situation in these 2-3 yrs? since 2005 the most revered Hair tried to Blackmail ICC after the pak-eng fiasco ,Rudi ,Bucknor 'n Aleem Dar showed their ignorance during the world cup final,Billy Bowden voted the least competent among the elite umpires,ah simon the aussie who is voted the best by the aussies 'n noone else on the earth can figure out y,Harper the shoulder guy.... my only point is if these r the high standards of competence train ,teach 'n hire more umpires.atleast we wont 've to complain workload.

  • llcricketerll on January 9, 2008, 17:53 GMT

    "billion armchair critics are better informed than the men out in the middle". This is on the same line that an armchair column writer thinks he knows better than billions. Ignoring hardcore evidence is sheer immaturity. Past reputation have no meaning in this world. There are lot more cricketers backing that decision who have played more than 100 test and one days than an armchair column writer.

  • kail-kull on January 9, 2008, 17:08 GMT

    Even if Bucknor committed a murder, Mr Andrew Miller may want to absolve him of that also since he was a good empire once upon a time.... Wrong is wrong and Right is right. If you cannot perform and yet do not want to sit out voluntarily, you have to be booted out. Spectators and viewers who pay money and invest their time deserve well empired games and no excuses for incompetence.

    They are well paid to do that job and it is right of each customer of the game to demand more accuracy and fairness in empiring the games.

  • zaibatsu2000 on January 9, 2008, 17:00 GMT

    Mr. Miller, whether India has produced a top-class umpire in the near past or not is not what got Bucknor to be sacked. What you said in the last paragraph is totally off-topic. Steve got sacked due to the umpiring errors he had made and for no other reason. So, whether or not there are any good Indian umpires, Steve should have been sacked. And as for the Indian team not being informed of the action, you must realize that if this series were taking place in India, the Australian team would have been in a similar situation. I think, here too, the Australian team got the "home advantage".

  • shanran on January 9, 2008, 16:42 GMT

    There is no doubt that Steve Bucknor has been test cricket's most experienced umpire and perhaps was a very good umpire at one stage.Unfortunately, all good things do come to an end and he is way past his "sell by" date. He would not be the first umpire to be dropped by ICC on grounds of not being up to the standard. ICC have only replaced him for the next test, but Mr.Bucknor should realise his own shortcomings and retire before he is relegated.

  • S_Sen on January 9, 2008, 16:41 GMT

    Sacking Steve Bucknor after Sydney has been an ad hoc and obviously imperfect maneuver, but sometimes ad hoc maneuvers are a necessary first step in solving the larger problem. Hopefully, a system of referrals and better use of available technology will emerge from this mess. Similarly, it is now painfully clear that a rational system is needed for assessing, rewarding and penalizing umpires for their performance. Under-performing umpires (just like under-performing players or employees or managers) can be expected to be dropped. The idea of an "elite panel" that can do no wrong is reminiscent of the idea that the umpire is God, and this is not viable in the era of Hawkeye, Snickometer and instant replays on the big screen.

  • KA-USA on January 9, 2008, 16:36 GMT

    Are you suggesting that as soon as one has reached the elite panel he has become god and do whatever he wishes? Theoritically at least someone could take up an offer for millions of dollars to give any decisions since their is no proper procedure to remove or penalize. I am not suggesting that Bucknor did that. All I am saying is that there is no proper provision or benchmark to evaluate umpires (or incompetent/biased Match Referees) to enforce sincere judgements. Indians or BCCI cannot be blamed for poor management or lack of proper standards in the ICC. A team that benefits ends up giving good rating that neutralizes any bad rating given by the honest team at the receiving end (be sure to check the ratings given for this match). A primary school child or even a blind/deaf could judge that the umpiring standard in this match was extremely ordinary to say the least. If you are writing an article please complete by providing an alternate course that BCCI/team India should have adopted.

  • segardefan on January 9, 2008, 16:18 GMT

    Bucknor does seem past his prime. The decision to remove him from next test is correct regardless of BCCI's position of strength.

    Harbhajan appeal should be scrutinized by a level headed body rather than Mike Proctor who has made various blunders in recent years when it comes to adjudication.

    Calling a player a monkey in THIS context is not done. I am not saying Harbajan did it yet, it's for someone else to decide.

    The actions of those fans with monkey chants was irresponsible and punishable and I feel ashamed as an Indian. However, and this is not a justification for those actions at all, the trigger is most likely the combination of the lip cream Symonds applies on his dark skin. If most of my countrymen or even I appeared like that, a simian resemblance would be created similar to our Monkey Gods like Hanuman. I am attempting to provide a background to non-Indians lest they think that chants were racist when all they were was extremely poor taste in humor.

  • Rajdev on January 9, 2008, 16:13 GMT

    Andrew, The issue regarding Bucknor is NOT about having a bad match, but the evidence seems to show that he is biased against Indians. I may be wrong but Indians certainly have every reason to believe that. Rajan

  • Lifeisgood on January 9, 2008, 16:09 GMT

    The issue of Steve Bucknor's competence has three components here: (1) All umpires make mistakes. The magnitude of the mistakes on two occasions - Rahul's dismissal in the second innings and Symond's reprieve at 30 in the first innings are huge. I am NOT pointing to the impact these decisions had on the game - no one can be sure. I am simply trying to calibrate us to the fact that these are errors associted with loss of focus. In Rahul's case, the bat was HIDDEN behind the pad. Symond's - nick audible, head twirled back and began to walk out. Steve did not see any of this. (2) Steve did not call for a 3rd umpire referral when Dhoni appealed for a stumping. The on-field umpire has NO business not referring. Steve's ego is huge and is unable to see his own shortcomings - this to me is a much bigger deal wrt his incompetence. (3) Lastly, Steve's ego has manifested itself in a couple of ways with the Indians. The beckoning of an Indian fast bowler with a crooked finger is a good example

  • Ellis on January 9, 2008, 15:57 GMT

    In effect, Bucknor has been " suspended" for at least one Test. Will benson who made evn more egregious mistakes, also be suspended? Will the " suspension" be announced to the world? Although Bucknor is past his sell by date, he has, wittingly or otherwise, been made a scapegoat. Wher goes Benson?

  • Grudge.Kid on January 9, 2008, 15:31 GMT

    No No No No Nooooo...... Bucknor is 61 and he needs to retire. He has never been India's favorite umpire, even in his prime. BCCI was not smart and didn't object him before hand. Now, they are trying to correct themselves, which is good. ICC did the right thing too. There is a lot of tension in the field and it needs to be relieved. And for all of you who is not happy about it. It's not just Indian Board, I think every Board should have the right to object an umpire if he is clearly wrong. The boards are paying ICC which in turn is paying the umpires. So if I am paying someone, I would like to chose whom I am paying. If a player is bringing down cricket's values, he needs to be sacked (for example match fixing). Similarly an Umpire who is bringing down cricketing standards, he needs to be sacked. Similarly if Ponting wants to be a kid and behave like one and not admit his mistakes, he does not deserve to be the captain of the best team in the world.

  • sskurupath on January 9, 2008, 15:24 GMT

    well i think it is an insult to monkeys to call humans monkeys. that apart did he actually call him a monkey or is ricky just concerned about losing his wicket to bhaji all the time.

    Bucknor has had more than his share of mistakes against india but bowing to pressure is not the right way but then that is what happens when one person, entity or country foots the bill they r bound to throw thier weight around...sorry it is not fair but then the world is also not fair. till england newzealand and australia can do away with the revenue generated by india they will have to dance to the tune of the bcci.

  • CluelessIdentity on January 9, 2008, 15:20 GMT

    I think this issue can lead to a path that ends nowhere... Indians are opposing world's best unmpire while as Miller said, they have not produced an umpire since Venkataraghavan and still most of the test cases they win in India with the help of thier own umpires, who can forget the match when Kumble took 10 wickets, also the one dayer against South Africa when umpire signalled a no-ball in the last over and Indians were seaching for an impossible victory batting second... there are many examples if you look for them... I think any team can now apeal aginst the umpire not to continue with them in the next match and that is the begining of a bad tradition... The main cause in this match was actually Benson, who is out of the picture because of being English? He had many wrong dicisions aginst both of the teams... this is a big question mark on the face of the series...

  • TonyP on January 9, 2008, 15:17 GMT

    I for one am sick of tired of people tossing around the word 'incompetence' as though they would have done any better in Bucknor's or Benson's shoes. Cricket umpires do not sit at home sipping drinks watching events with the benefits of light-filters, stump microphones, slow motion replays & zoom lenses. They make hard decisions 6 hours a day in hot or cold while watching fielding positions, where batsmen and fielders run, the condition of the ball, exchanges between players, the score, the over rate, the light, the weather, front & back foot no-balls, bowling actions and scores of other things in between adjudicating line-ball decisions at high speed that depend on fractions of inches. All this in the midst of player & crowd noise with the pressure of knowing that each & every decision will be dissected by millions & can affect the outcome of a match or a player's career. Why do we put up with the umpires we've got? the answer is in the article: THEY'RE THE BEST WE HAVE!

  • Dhaval_Brahmbhatt on January 9, 2008, 14:48 GMT

    Mr. Miller, I don't share your opinion that Steve Bucknor deserved better - the fact is that he has been biased towards India - and I say this because I seem to remember him giving at least two bad decisions in every game in which he has umpired when India are playing - and I say this because I am old enough to remember the first time I saw him umpire in South Africa - and I believe Johnty Rhodes was at the crease. The Indians seemed to have run him out, but Mr. Bucknor, did not give him out nor did he refer the decision to the third umpire. I would have accepted that as a single bad decision, had it not been for the fact that he has always made bad decisions against the Indians. And of late, he seems to have gone from bad to worse, making bad decisions in all games in which he officiates. I believe there should be a retirement age for umpires and they should also be given the help of technology - or put it this way, technology should be allowed to overrule the onfield umpires.

  • VishalK on January 9, 2008, 14:39 GMT

    No one can escape from making mistakes. Good umpires will also be wrong many times. It's a human nature. But to make so many erroneous judgements in a single match is unforgivable. It speaks highly of nothing but incompetence. And all those judgements against a single team is disturbing.

    What Darrell Hair did was pathetic: accusing Pakistan team of ball tampering without any proof and then stopping the match. Umpires are not above law. They should not get away with such blunders. They should help enforce the standard of the game and not degrade it to such a huge magnitude, as we witnessed in Sydney. I would rather India produced no Umpire than someone who played for a particular team.

  • ristmi on January 9, 2008, 14:33 GMT

    Well, two down eight to go from the elite panel... but I think with a little effort we can do so much better! The BCCI should have simultaneously removed Benson (that's how it works, no?) since he made more mistakes than Bucknor. The PCB should retroactively have Doctrove removed for his complicity in the wretched Hair-affair. And as for 'that' world cup final, let's strike off Bowden, Koertzen, and Dar. That leaves Rauf, Harper, and Taufel. Ahhh, that would make only Rauf eligible for the 3rd Test, so we'd have to bend the neutral-umpire rule a little. Hmmm, since we're now obsessed umpire decision-making we should probably bring in the umpire that the ICC consistently analyzed as making the highest percentage of correct decisions... which would, of course, be good old Daryl Hair!!!

  • gudolerhum on January 9, 2008, 14:20 GMT

    Unfortunately Mr Bucknor has stayed longer, much longer, than his sell by date! It is tempting to hang on to enjoy the sweets of life in that very fast lane. David Shepherd knew that he was approaching, if not at, that inevitable date and he went with little or no dispute about his competence and credentials. Mr Bucknor has stayed to sip too long at the trough and will be remembered not for his great work in past years but for his apalling display in the second test. He has always appeared to have some axe to grind with the Indian team and Tendulkar in particular! Now unless he is given a "benefit match" there is unlikely to be the glorious farewell for Mr Bucknor that Mr Shepherd received. Steve, go happily and enjoy the fruits of your retirement.

  • Boo_Radley on January 9, 2008, 14:14 GMT

    Begining with history of a great umpire. Before coming to cricket Mr. Bucknor was refereeing FIFA soccer matches when he had to unwillingly retire due to age constraints. Now he decides to switch over to cricket. So to say, he has no cricketing history whatsoever. Now the question is was it right for ICC to induct an already retired person as a match umpire and that too in the elite panel. If yes, then its ICC who doesn't care of the good of cricket. In fact by doing this ICC just gives an impression that level of judgment needed by cricket umpires is far less than soccer referees. Now coming to the point, do playing nations' boards have right to appeal for removal of an umpire. Definitely not; as per the current ICC rules. But does someone think that a non-cricket playing country would appeal against such obnoxious officials? The problem is he should not have been here in the first place, but to me it seems like he had plans to umpire until he dies on ground and buried under a pitch.

  • AsherCA on January 9, 2008, 14:12 GMT

    Message for Mr. Hunte.

    Human errors, we Indians will live with since as the greats say - they level out over a period of time.

    Only problem for Mr. Bucknor is - for his errors against India to level out, he will probably require another birth.

    Also - Bucknor seems to be cavalier with his errors against India, some of them reeking of either insanity or lack of integrity.

    At the end of the 1st day at Sydney he would have known that his judgements were fallible.

    When the Indians appealed for a stumping against Symonds on the 2nd day, a man with any intention to retain his job would have called upon the 3rd umpire for a borderline decision. Bucknor chose to ignore the availability of resources provided to him by his employers to do his job right & goofed up again, giving Symonds incorrectly not-out.

    At worst -

    Bucknor was abusing his authority to help Australia beat India

    At best -

    Bucknor is insane.

    In both cases, Bucknor should be banned from umpiring.

  • kunuko on January 9, 2008, 14:02 GMT

    It is unfair on part of Mr Miller to say BCCI is using its clout to have Mr Bucknor removed. He has erred since time immemorial and given some VERY poor decisions. Of course, theoritically he must be the best going by his past records & his knowledge of rules but then shudn't ICC be havin a Sight & Sound Tests for all umpires considering they have to withstand loud crowds ? And a couple of wrong decisions wud have been forgiven anyway but a host of decisions is too much to handle. As for the rascist MONKEY remark, since nobody except Symonds heard it, he probably was just getting back for the chants he faced in Mumbai. Rascist riots took place in Australia, first cricketer to be banned for being rascist was an Australian while even South African & English teams faced rascist chants from Aussie crowds. And so is "Deridda-derider" being rascist by saying "YOU INDIANS.." in his/her opinion. Lets face it, Indians are at receiving end of rascism, anywhere, everywhere. Even in Malaysia...

  • pcaygs on January 9, 2008, 13:34 GMT

    I think you find we are in an age now where for some time, people are just not accepting decisions that umpires have made. Ok, umpires make mistakes, but if they were supported with technology that would enable a decision to be reviewed, this may clear some of the problems. But it doesn't hide the fact that the ICC have a system in place that has gone wrong, and there appears to be no clear leadership or constructive ways of dealing with situations like this. Otherwise you are going to find more games not being completed for this very reason. As for the issue of racism, whilst it should be stamped out completely, how can you charge a player without any satisfactory evidence? Surely it would have been better if the evidence was looked at before a decision was made. I think if it had been proven with clear evidence and had been presented to Harbajan Singh first before a charge was made, you might have found a different outcome.

  • gg76 on January 9, 2008, 13:28 GMT

    Mr Avinash Reddy - not sure what qualifies as incompetence if Steve Bucknor's performance in the Sydney test was not just that. Infact he has been incompetent for a while (the WC final is another glaring example). Dont know of any other profession where you wouldnt gety sacked for such a below par performance. We need not doubt Bucknor's itegrity or commitment, but he is incompetent and not worthy of standing in a Test match again.

    The umpires are providing a service, the ICC is their employers and the players and more than that, public in general are their customers. If the employers dont proactively take action on an incompetent employee the customers will force that action. Thats exactly what has happened here.

  • vijayc on January 9, 2008, 13:23 GMT

    I share Mr.Millers concern over producing replacements for umpires in the future but I wonder why technology is being used so conservatively. Why can't the right to refer to the third umpire be given to the batsman who feels he's not out as also to the captain of the feilding side if he feels that the umpire is making a mistake? To err is human-of course--but to ask the feilding side captain whether the catch was cleanly taken-- instead of using the available technology is certainly insane, to say the least.

  • Hurry on January 9, 2008, 12:37 GMT

    As told in an article, ban complete sledging. Players need to talk with bat and ball unlike Aussie chatting. Remember they are the one who started and are so weak to take it back. Sledging in common is bad - don't try to attach band to it quoting these sledges are allowed and these are not. Try to grow up like sportsmen or keep shut.

  • bugnot on January 9, 2008, 12:35 GMT

    Aussies to me is a team that can dish it but cannot take it when the other team returns the same.

    If Hogg called any Indian player a bastard, I wouldn't say it was meant to be in an endearing sort of way.

    The current Aussies are more into winning at all costs even if it means using unfair means/methods and that is what casts a doubt on their allegations.

    Bucknor has repeatedly failed in the recent times and especially against India, he has given wrong decisions which have altered the outcome of games unfavorably for them. It has come to a boiling point with all the Aussie histrionics and I would say, hence the stand by BCCI.

    This Aussie bunch while talented and could also be one of the best are also making a case for themselves to be cast as a bunch of "poor winners."

  • cook on January 9, 2008, 12:25 GMT

    What happened in India when Australia toured was a lot worse than what is happening now, yet look at India complain. Australia had every right to quit the last tour to India, with Symonds being harrassed like nothing I have seen before. But the Aussies carried on with the tour. And as Andrew Symonds has said, he never made a complaint about the India fiasco. It was the media that built it up. But one thing I don't understand. If India is calling Symonds a monkey because he is black, then does that mean they are also insulting themselves ? last time I looked the Indian team was full of black players.

  • danmcb on January 9, 2008, 12:10 GMT

    Your observation is quite correct that a side should not have the right to object to the appointment of an official. However, the rules were written in a different era, and many things have changed. The professional game is beholden to advertisers, and if a side with the financial clout of India get that upset (and not without reason) they can and will do as they please. (Where does a 7 foot bear sit? Wherever it wants to.) The system is broken, badly broken, bad umpiring and bad management of the game are ruining it and there is no point blubbing about the values of yesteryear. The ICC needs to take specific action to fix the situation, and do it in a professional way. That includes steps to relieve the on field pressure on umpires by correct use of technology, and control excessive behaviour of players. The ICC must do this, do it thoroughly, do it well, and do it now.

  • avy_in on January 9, 2008, 11:57 GMT

    I don't know what's wrong in saying bad umpiring BAD. I agree Bucknor has been a great umpire at one point of time. He can not be great always unlike players, Just because he was great once and allowing him to carry on shall be injustice for even bucknor. He deserves to be known as a great umpire but then like players he need to understand when he should call it a day. Mice procter said that he understands what a racial slur means but his behaviour suggested that he does not understand the enormity of issue, otherwise by hearsay and just on basis of words of some juvenile, overeager and non-respecting cricketers he would not have passed such an important judgement. I frankly believe this Australlian team, which behaves like a bunch of village pumpkins need more non-refined and countryside players from India with 'up your' attitude. They have had enough of free ride with gentleman crcketers from India.

  • wincowalker on January 9, 2008, 11:56 GMT

    Yes, it could be a wrong precedent , but changes have to take place if things need to be improved. Bucknor made blunders and took India forgranted. Also, perhaps he has been riding so far on the support he has been getting from benefitted Countries such as Australia [which explains his high rating]. Of course West Indians do feel agrieved and feel like standing up for Bucknor. If Bucknor [or someone like Hair] wants to keep playing with the Life [career] of players forever, they don't have any right ! Let's be clear about it. Show me one sane person who thinks Australia could have won this Test if the right decisions are given. A blatant decision on Symonds [who is a cheat and no sportsman] swung everything in Australia's favour. Ponting was not given out when he was, Dravid,Ganguly,Dhoni and RP Singh given out when they were not. Is it Cricket. Does anyone care for such result !

  • cricsom5667 on January 9, 2008, 11:35 GMT

    While I agree with Mr. Miller to a certain extent that member boards should not be allowed to force an umpire out from officiating, I also feel that it is high time that ICC sets out clear cut rules and guidelines for periodic performance appraisals (as also suggested by Carlos1)of umpires and also provide a right to the captain of the fielding side or the onfield batsmen to seek 3rd umpires confirmation for any contentious decision of the umpires. If the 3rd umpires decision overturns the umpires decision, so be it. This itself can act as a performance appraisal for the umpires and gradually will force them to seek technological help. This will atleast remove all the heartburns. Sports these days is an all or nothing spectable requiring the highest level of commitment and dedication and capable of providing lifetime livelihoods. Hence considering the high stakes, it is better to adopt measures to remove as many uncertainties as possible because they are no more perceived as glorious.

  • KingOwl on January 9, 2008, 11:23 GMT

    I just cannot understand the tolerence we have seem to have for incompetence. If most people make 50% of the mistakes these umpires make, they will be kicked out of their jobs. Why do we have to make do with incompetent umpires? This lame excuse that they are after all human, is pathetic. We are all human and in our jobs we cannot afford to continue to make blunders. If we want to keep our jobs, that is. This is sooooo frustrating!

  • Mallencolly on January 9, 2008, 11:18 GMT

    All the people claiming that "monkey" is not racist should think back to Herchelle Gibb's "like a bunch of animals that belong in a zoo" comment. Did you consider that racist or did you assume he was speaking of the way the crowd was behaving? Was that not aimed at people from the sub-continent? He was accused of and punished for Racism. How is Harbajahn's offence any different? (assuming he said it of course)

  • winter on January 9, 2008, 11:06 GMT

    The ICC may aswell just hand all their powers over to the BCCI and be done with it. Isn't the first rule of any organisation that wants to maintain even a shred of credibility that you don't give in to demands and ultimatums? As the article says, this decision sets an utterly ridiculous destabilising precedent. Does the ICC have any remaining credibility?

  • avinash_reddy on January 9, 2008, 10:53 GMT

    After giving more than 20+ years for this sport, he doesn't deserve this. Its the ICC who are responsible for this and they along with BCCI should reinstate bucknor for the perth test. Indian team and the board showered there anger at the wrong person. Even though he has given few wrong decision, no one has the right to question his commitment, competency or integrity. I am an indian and i feel ashamed of the fact that ICC, BCCI and even the Indian team has made such a good human being , a scapegoat. I hope they bring him back.

  • KumarVeeraraghavan on January 9, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    Comeon Wog. If the aussies call another cricketer a "****ard", you people argue that it is not offensive as it meant to be. If others call an aussie a "monkey", it is a racial slur.

    Let us make a point. Who has started the war of words? Do you have any evidence to prove Bhajji has started? It is always the aussies, who never digest/acknowledge an opponent playing good cricket. It is this non-friendly, nonprofessional approach yielded them a poor name around the world, instead of what could/should have been "world-beaters".

    I still believe this current aussie team is the best ever test & ODI team. But, to claim this, they need to play the game in the spirit of the game and show more generosity in accepting opponent teams' good performances.

    Coming to the umpiring issue, Bucknor has erred more often in his judgement in the recent years. ICC should try to introduce a "challenging system", wherein each team should be allowed to appeal atleast 2 challenges per innings.

  • AbhishekRakyan on January 9, 2008, 10:36 GMT

    Dear Andrew

    The removal of Bucknor is not a wrong move, infact why some people are making it a issue of a strong board pressing ICC, why some people forgot that we Indian readily accept many wrong dismissal(which we dont know why, most of come with the Asian Teams), why we forgot we Indian accept the ban imposed on Sachin Tendulkar (for tempring the ball). Cant people see the behaviour of Australian Cricketers on the field, why some people cant hear what an over prouded Ricky said to an Indian reporter. If the people think that the happenings Mr.Ricky allowed to happen in SCG was right, then sorry to say they were not playing a sport. Mr. Ponting misused the trust from Kumble (for telling about the catch).

    So kindly dont make it a issue of a strong board and ICC, but think it as a matter of ethics. And last but not the least, it is not a fault of being the wealthiest cricket board, Indian people are paying to watch the fair matches, not the unfair sport like SCG!!

  • ahire on January 9, 2008, 10:34 GMT

    I am not a fan of the BCCI.It is an organisation run by arrogant people to whom cicket is not really paramount. However,in this case,the BCCI done nothing wrong by protecting it's player's interests.Occasional umpiring mistakes must be forgiven. All cricket teams, including India have had bad decisions against them, moaned about it and moved on. In this game, what emerged was blatant one-sided umpiring. Benson asking Ponting's opinion to give a batsman out was the final straw.Bucknor was probably a good umpire, but against India, there has been a pattern. Patterns cannot be ignored. After a point, accepting and moving on rather than making a stand is an opportunity lost. The same can be said of the match referee. ''I know one side was telling the truth'' is a pretty dangerous statement to make when there is no evidence to support a racial slur.Mr Miller,a billion armchair critics bring money and passion to the game. They deserve respect.That's the madness big sport must accept.

  • kempton on January 9, 2008, 10:30 GMT

    Good Day,

    I am very much disappointed with the way Mr Speed and his board handle the situation.It is a sad way to see one of our best umpire umiliated by the board,(IS'NT THERE AN UMPIRE ASSOCIATION).The umpires should come together and stand behind Mr Bucknor,because every body makes mistake and the umpires have allot of pressure when things not going good for one team or the other to make the right call.I am disappointed in INDIA cricket board and the players need to blame themselves and play better cricket,And i am sory to see what way they umiliate umpire Bucknor.Cricket will never be the same and will take a down road if that is the way Mr Speed and the board is handling these problems.My heart is with MR BUCKNOR. THANK YOU.

  • TheProphet on January 9, 2008, 10:22 GMT

    @The_Wog... It is a naive unthinking remark. "Monkey" is not a racist word. It was not used thinking about Symonds ethnicity or his race. Even when the Indian crowds taunted him, that was just banter and had nothing to do with Symonds ethnicity. If the Indian crowds want to be racist, why would they only do it with Symonds? Why not the West Indians? Why not Sri Lankans? Inzamam Ul Haq also used to get "Aaloo" (Potato) chants all over India. It was just designed to put him off his game. The Mumbai crowd did the same with Symonds and managed to get him pissed off enough to get out first ball. I would equate monkey with calling someone a "son of a bi**h" in effect a dog. Now is that racist? It maybe abusive but not racist.

  • AaronOtang on January 9, 2008, 10:18 GMT

    Harbhajans Spoken English is pretty good,im sure he knows What monkey means when he said it,i wonder whether Brad Hoggs hindi/Urdu/punjabi/etc etc!!! is as good as when he allegedly said Bastard. the best thing India can & should do,is get out on the pitch and show (cause they have the ability) they can really compete & beat the team that is the best in the world by far......Not spitting the dummy & say im not playing anymore,when a few really bad desicions are made,change the umpire constantly.If thats the case half the international games in the last 5 years would never have finished....its a shame international cricket has come to this

  • dhruvmalinga on January 9, 2008, 10:09 GMT

    With more than 10 decisions (all critical) going against India, committed by both the umpires cant be a coincidence. Umpiring against asian countries has been always an issue of debate.But in the sydney test,the two umpires failed to realise the explosive nature of the issue. One can understand that an umpire can have a bad day in the office, but the repitition of the mistakes in almost all days of the match and that too by both umpires and that too against one team is very difficult to digest. I am surprised why BCCI did not asked for the enquiry regarding the conduct of the umpires. Sacking the umpire is a short cut solution. It will be interesting to see how Mr. Benson umpires in any future India game.

  • the-truth-hurts on January 9, 2008, 10:07 GMT

    Poor Billy Bowden !!!!! no doubt he will be gun shy when India will be batting ...it will be clean bowled or nothing ..........

  • derrida_derider on January 9, 2008, 10:06 GMT

    "... Harbhajan's alleged monkey slur can be seen for the naïve, unthinking remark that it surely was" What rubbish. Singh was explicitly warned after the last time he used that term (in India) that it was offensive and racist and in future would be reported as such.

    You Indians can't get your story straight. First you say he didn't say it, then you say he said it as a compliment(!). If Mike Proctor - someone who has no axe to grind - was "satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt" (his words) after a six hour hearing, then I reckon Singh said it. Of course the appeal will clear him - the ICC is now the BCCI's puppet, and the BCCI has 'face' invested in an acquittal. Hogg, however, who wasn't racist, had no intention of giving offence and didn't address his comment to the Indians anyway, will be suspended.

    I have lost an awful lot of respect for Indians as a people in the last few days. On this showing they're a nation of unprincipled hypocrites.

  • Carlos1 on January 9, 2008, 10:03 GMT

    Most of the trouble in this match was caused by poor umpiring. But rather than blaming the individual involved, we should look at the system. (1)Mr.Bucknor is getting older, but the ball is getting faster. He is bound to miss out few knicks. In other employments/professions, don't we have a retirement age to make people give way to younger blood? Why not in cricket? In normal employments in the commercial world, performance appraisals are done and bad performers are puled up. So when Bucknor started making mistakes, if the system had pulled him up, then either he would have improved or would have realised that he cannot perform to the expected standards and would have resigned. Someone at the ICC should look into this. (2) 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 batsmens end for LB's and catches.This pressure makes him commit mistakes.Bring in technology to call the no balls. Ease his load.

  • abinanthan on January 9, 2008, 10:02 GMT

    Mr 'The_Wog'... How in the world a coloured person can racially abuse another coloured person? It simply beats the logic of racism.

  • TM_G on January 9, 2008, 10:02 GMT

    Response to The_Wog on January 09 2008, 08:45 AM GMT: Agree Bhajji has no excuse and should be punished for calling Symonds a monkey. Point is: He did not do so at the Sydney Test. Aussie cricketers have taken gamesmanship to the next level here in their quest for 16 straight victories. Sun Tzu would have approved of their multi-pronged attack.

  • swami_psg on January 9, 2008, 9:58 GMT

    It appears ridiculous beyond imagination that "lucky bast***" is a usage that is so common among Australians and they accept that is the way they are brought up... and the usage of the word "monkey" is cried upon as a murder...For all the racist comments and sledgings that australians have made - the die hard australian fans must be lucky that not individuals but the team itself isnt banned for life. For if appeals were made against each and every australian who has made racist comments/sledgings i am afraid you will not find a single australian player to play the Perth test next week - so dont cry over the alleged racist comments that harbhajan made [by the way thanks to Procter for branding Harbajan with such concrete evidence - evidence being the words of the Australian players - who are considered as players who play with the great sportmanship- cannot be more ironical] and be happy about the good luck that you have had over the last 3 decades...

  • Ricky_the_Ponting on January 9, 2008, 9:57 GMT

    Just in case you have missed what ICC thinks of Aussies!

    Melbourne: The ICC has urged Cricket Australia to reign in Ricky Ponting's men in the light of all-round criticism of their on-field behaviour during the ill-tempered second Test against India.ICC CEO Malcolm Speed said CA needs to take notice of the criticism being directed at its team by the public, former players and commentators. "The team is being criticised, members of the team are being criticised and they need to to be aware of that - they need to respond to that," Speed was quoted saying in the Herald Sun.

    "All national teams should play cricket in the right spirit. We need to be clear what that means," he said. Speed said he was relieved that the replacement of umpire Steve Bucknor prevented an international crisis.

  • agandham on January 9, 2008, 9:55 GMT

    People questioning the issue being blown out of proportion are forgetting that the allegations against Harbhajan were not proved by any concrete evidence and if there was any evidence and was proved CORRECTLY that he had indeed made a racist comment, there wouldn't have been many people supporting him. So Lehman's case is categorically different from Hanrbhajan's. The judgement passed by Proctor only considering Australian player's testimony was absurd to say the least. As far as Bucknor is concerned agreed he has a credible past, but also what played a important part are the blunders he has done in the past eg. Sachin's dismissal in brisbane '03-'04 and the repeat of such which have specifically gone against india. There was never a great furore then, but after 3-4 absolutely pathetic decisions in sydney somewhere a line had to be drawn. He is well past his prime and has brought the game to disrepute with his errors and novice like handling of situations time and again.

  • Ricky_the_Ponting on January 9, 2008, 9:53 GMT

    My dear The_Wog everybody was there including Gavaskar and Peter when Lehman was banned becuase his racial comments were heard and there was a proof. In case of Harbhajan there is no proof and it's all man made so that Ricky Ponting could score a few more runs in next few matches instaed of getting out to Harbhajan every time.

  • s_rider on January 9, 2008, 9:30 GMT

    Editor is empathetic to the personal feelings of individual. Do justice to the cricket rather than paying royalty to the so called umpire with high reputation. Any team will feel the pain when it has to be at the losing side due to the mistakes of an incompetent umpire. Added to this, the indecisive umpires looks mercily at the strong presence in the field for instructions.

    For a normal indian the lingering question is "when umpire is incompetent, why did he made all the bad decisions one-sided!??" If he had done mistakes both sides, india could have levelled the series by this time.

    defended hogg's comment(very casual in australia), then he should be well-aware monkey-man is considered god and it is compliment to the person if anyone titles so.

    ICC favoured by just dropping incompetent umpire for one match, finding him guilty, this match should be removed from records and steve should be given rest till the causes of wrong umpiring is studied in detail.

  • swapnilj8 on January 9, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    dear mr "The_Wog" its an Australian "it should stay on the field" attitude not the great Sunny's. everybody in the australian team says that. in the case of Lehman he confessed that he said racist words, and Harbajhan has absolutely denied it.the whole australian team was lying and getting bhajji into trap. it was an strategy from the Australian and they have said it to Harbhajan in India that you are going get something for that. Who will be as stupid to say those words after seeing that 3 persons were prisioned for the same case. Its always Australians who abuse other sportspersons (as you have been seeing the Hogg case) and this is the first time it has came up because australians started it. My dear this is not the spirit of the game. so better dont think that Australians are the only one.

  • proscons on January 9, 2008, 9:25 GMT

    What an unbiased feedback by The_Wog. If monkey can cause such a racial slur, so is the word 'bastard' and if Symonds has been taunted for weeks then so does every aussie is taunting the indians with such words for years. How can these guys pretend to be so innocent when the whole world knows who are the worst mouthed cricketers. As far as Mr. Bucknor is concerned, I believe he should retire now as rightly mentioned to be 'incompetent'. Or maybe he can wait for another Aussie domestic series with any touring nation. All the best Mr. Bucknor.

  • Alahakoon on January 9, 2008, 9:23 GMT

    There is no doubt that Steve Bucknor's 'poor' umpiring decisions paved the way to Australia's so called 16th consecutive test win. Hadn't the umpiring done 'poorly' during the 2nd test between Sri Lanka and Australia, when the current world number one batsman Kumar Sangakara was batting, Sri Lanka could have won the match? After the match, Rudy Koerstan, the umpire who made the critical 'poor' decision to give Sangakara out apologised to him but nothing has changed. Rudy may be a possible replacement for Bucknor. Therefore, replacing an umpire won't solve this problem at all.

    Technology is the only way to go. The level of uncertainty is the same to both teams when the technology is used, but not the same with human decisions. Cricket is not just a sport any more. It is a big business including gambling. How can you say surely that the so called 'poor' decisions were not attached to dirty money?

  • shyamd on January 9, 2008, 9:08 GMT

    Andrew - 3 points.

    (1) No one complaints when there is a fair result. Example - 1st Melbourne Test - India lost; fine go rethink abt batting strategy etc.. But everyone complaints when umpires make mistakes. Like Lords 2007, or the 2nd match at Sydney. It spoiled the game. Pointless affair.. Australia should have lost the game. 16 victories in a row etc - oh really? Did they deserve it?

    (2) In the Fifa world cup held in Germany, if I remember correctly - an English referee had a really bad quarter final match. He was due to referee in the Semis. BUT FIFA promptly dropped him for his incompetence. This is the same thing. That referee has since restarted refereeing international matches as he has re assessed himself, techniques used etc. Umpires are human and make mistakes - maybe 2 mistakes a game is acceptable? But 7!?! So Bucknor should go back, take a look at his technique, etc and then come back - if everyone has confidence in him. At the end of the day thats what its about.

  • KRRajan on January 9, 2008, 9:02 GMT

    While the author's opinion about the pressure on a replaced umpire is partially true, I would like to bring to notice that there is a difference between "making an error in judgement" and "consistently demeaning the appeals".

    Let me explain:(1) when the whole set of fielders nearby Symonds could hear the nick and appeal, the umpire overturned it. I dont think this is judgemental error given that (2)in the 2nd innings, the appeal against rahul dravid was upheld even though no nick was heard. In both the cases, it is the appeal that mattered - body language, spontanity, credibility of team. (3) Dhoni's stumping appeal not referred - is he saying Dhoni is appealing without looking at Symond's feet? [What if it was Gilchrist who was appealing?] In my view, Bucknor will continue to be a good umpire in all other matches. Somehow, historically, he has formed this opinion that the indians are excessive appealers and this is affecting his decisions. This wont be so with the replaced umpire.

  • sarfrazhaan on January 9, 2008, 8:47 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.

  • The_Wog on January 9, 2008, 8:45 GMT

    "Naive, unthinking remark"?? What an astonishing categorisation of a racial slur. We're also seeing the defence that "poor Harbhajan was provoked by a sledge." Would we be so quick to forgive if the positions were reversed?

    Give me a break! When Lehmann audibly used the words "black c*" he was clearly also reacting to being "sent off" (sledged) after his runout. Where were the defenders then? The world was screaming for Lehmann's blood - a life ban being too good for a racist like him. Where was Gavaskar then with his "it should stay on the field" attitude?

    Had the word "monkey" appeared for the first time ever on a cricket field directed at a coloured man, MAYBE we could look at it in those terms. But Symonds was racially taunted for weeks by thousands of people on the tour of India, and allegedly by Harbhajan himself (allegedly dealt with by private apology that time). This is not "naive and unthinking" - it's a racist slur and there is never an excuse.

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  • The_Wog on January 9, 2008, 8:45 GMT

    "Naive, unthinking remark"?? What an astonishing categorisation of a racial slur. We're also seeing the defence that "poor Harbhajan was provoked by a sledge." Would we be so quick to forgive if the positions were reversed?

    Give me a break! When Lehmann audibly used the words "black c*" he was clearly also reacting to being "sent off" (sledged) after his runout. Where were the defenders then? The world was screaming for Lehmann's blood - a life ban being too good for a racist like him. Where was Gavaskar then with his "it should stay on the field" attitude?

    Had the word "monkey" appeared for the first time ever on a cricket field directed at a coloured man, MAYBE we could look at it in those terms. But Symonds was racially taunted for weeks by thousands of people on the tour of India, and allegedly by Harbhajan himself (allegedly dealt with by private apology that time). This is not "naive and unthinking" - it's a racist slur and there is never an excuse.

  • sarfrazhaan on January 9, 2008, 8:47 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.

  • KRRajan on January 9, 2008, 9:02 GMT

    While the author's opinion about the pressure on a replaced umpire is partially true, I would like to bring to notice that there is a difference between "making an error in judgement" and "consistently demeaning the appeals".

    Let me explain:(1) when the whole set of fielders nearby Symonds could hear the nick and appeal, the umpire overturned it. I dont think this is judgemental error given that (2)in the 2nd innings, the appeal against rahul dravid was upheld even though no nick was heard. In both the cases, it is the appeal that mattered - body language, spontanity, credibility of team. (3) Dhoni's stumping appeal not referred - is he saying Dhoni is appealing without looking at Symond's feet? [What if it was Gilchrist who was appealing?] In my view, Bucknor will continue to be a good umpire in all other matches. Somehow, historically, he has formed this opinion that the indians are excessive appealers and this is affecting his decisions. This wont be so with the replaced umpire.

  • shyamd on January 9, 2008, 9:08 GMT

    Andrew - 3 points.

    (1) No one complaints when there is a fair result. Example - 1st Melbourne Test - India lost; fine go rethink abt batting strategy etc.. But everyone complaints when umpires make mistakes. Like Lords 2007, or the 2nd match at Sydney. It spoiled the game. Pointless affair.. Australia should have lost the game. 16 victories in a row etc - oh really? Did they deserve it?

    (2) In the Fifa world cup held in Germany, if I remember correctly - an English referee had a really bad quarter final match. He was due to referee in the Semis. BUT FIFA promptly dropped him for his incompetence. This is the same thing. That referee has since restarted refereeing international matches as he has re assessed himself, techniques used etc. Umpires are human and make mistakes - maybe 2 mistakes a game is acceptable? But 7!?! So Bucknor should go back, take a look at his technique, etc and then come back - if everyone has confidence in him. At the end of the day thats what its about.

  • Alahakoon on January 9, 2008, 9:23 GMT

    There is no doubt that Steve Bucknor's 'poor' umpiring decisions paved the way to Australia's so called 16th consecutive test win. Hadn't the umpiring done 'poorly' during the 2nd test between Sri Lanka and Australia, when the current world number one batsman Kumar Sangakara was batting, Sri Lanka could have won the match? After the match, Rudy Koerstan, the umpire who made the critical 'poor' decision to give Sangakara out apologised to him but nothing has changed. Rudy may be a possible replacement for Bucknor. Therefore, replacing an umpire won't solve this problem at all.

    Technology is the only way to go. The level of uncertainty is the same to both teams when the technology is used, but not the same with human decisions. Cricket is not just a sport any more. It is a big business including gambling. How can you say surely that the so called 'poor' decisions were not attached to dirty money?

  • proscons on January 9, 2008, 9:25 GMT

    What an unbiased feedback by The_Wog. If monkey can cause such a racial slur, so is the word 'bastard' and if Symonds has been taunted for weeks then so does every aussie is taunting the indians with such words for years. How can these guys pretend to be so innocent when the whole world knows who are the worst mouthed cricketers. As far as Mr. Bucknor is concerned, I believe he should retire now as rightly mentioned to be 'incompetent'. Or maybe he can wait for another Aussie domestic series with any touring nation. All the best Mr. Bucknor.

  • swapnilj8 on January 9, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    dear mr "The_Wog" its an Australian "it should stay on the field" attitude not the great Sunny's. everybody in the australian team says that. in the case of Lehman he confessed that he said racist words, and Harbajhan has absolutely denied it.the whole australian team was lying and getting bhajji into trap. it was an strategy from the Australian and they have said it to Harbhajan in India that you are going get something for that. Who will be as stupid to say those words after seeing that 3 persons were prisioned for the same case. Its always Australians who abuse other sportspersons (as you have been seeing the Hogg case) and this is the first time it has came up because australians started it. My dear this is not the spirit of the game. so better dont think that Australians are the only one.

  • s_rider on January 9, 2008, 9:30 GMT

    Editor is empathetic to the personal feelings of individual. Do justice to the cricket rather than paying royalty to the so called umpire with high reputation. Any team will feel the pain when it has to be at the losing side due to the mistakes of an incompetent umpire. Added to this, the indecisive umpires looks mercily at the strong presence in the field for instructions.

    For a normal indian the lingering question is "when umpire is incompetent, why did he made all the bad decisions one-sided!??" If he had done mistakes both sides, india could have levelled the series by this time.

    defended hogg's comment(very casual in australia), then he should be well-aware monkey-man is considered god and it is compliment to the person if anyone titles so.

    ICC favoured by just dropping incompetent umpire for one match, finding him guilty, this match should be removed from records and steve should be given rest till the causes of wrong umpiring is studied in detail.

  • Ricky_the_Ponting on January 9, 2008, 9:53 GMT

    My dear The_Wog everybody was there including Gavaskar and Peter when Lehman was banned becuase his racial comments were heard and there was a proof. In case of Harbhajan there is no proof and it's all man made so that Ricky Ponting could score a few more runs in next few matches instaed of getting out to Harbhajan every time.

  • agandham on January 9, 2008, 9:55 GMT

    People questioning the issue being blown out of proportion are forgetting that the allegations against Harbhajan were not proved by any concrete evidence and if there was any evidence and was proved CORRECTLY that he had indeed made a racist comment, there wouldn't have been many people supporting him. So Lehman's case is categorically different from Hanrbhajan's. The judgement passed by Proctor only considering Australian player's testimony was absurd to say the least. As far as Bucknor is concerned agreed he has a credible past, but also what played a important part are the blunders he has done in the past eg. Sachin's dismissal in brisbane '03-'04 and the repeat of such which have specifically gone against india. There was never a great furore then, but after 3-4 absolutely pathetic decisions in sydney somewhere a line had to be drawn. He is well past his prime and has brought the game to disrepute with his errors and novice like handling of situations time and again.