5 January 1999

Ian Chappell on Slater

Ian Chappell

MICHAEL SLATER is an emotional cricketer. When he scored his 11th Test century at the SCG he charged off in the direction of the pavilion waving his bat above his head and leaping in the air before planting a kiss on the Australian coat of arms.

It was an unabashed unveiling of emotions, a cricketer who wears his heart on his sleeve and is adored by the public for the passion with which he plays the game. However, England fans may have felt that the only section of the ground that Slater should have saluted was the area where the third umpire was housed.

Early in his innings, a direct hit by Headley from the deep had Slater struggling on a second run and the third umpire was called on. Following the consistent pattern he has set, Simon Taufel gave the benefit of the doubt to the batsman. Every instinct told you Slater was out, but the videotape evidence was flimsy, as it often is and will continue to be until the cricket administrators decide that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing properly.

There will be an outcry over this decision, but umpire Taufel has steadfastly refused to guess off videotape and I cannot quibble with his priorities.

The players do not want umpires who guess out in the middle and it is even more ridiculous if it happens in a darkened room after viewing replays.

In the end Taufel may be responsible for doing the game a favour by forcing the officials to put cameras in line with the batting crease on both sides of the ground, at both ends of the pitch so that these decisions are adequately covered. There can be no mistake about what Taufel did for the Sydney Test.

Slater set the ground alight by contributing two-thirds of the Australian total of 184, the second highest percentage in a completed Test innings. The crowd loved the audacity of his play, especially as he neared the century and began to run out of partners. It was a century of power, precision and luck and, graciously, the England players refused to display any sour grapes and applauded warmly as Slater carried on his now familiar century ritual.

It was the type of century that can change the course of the game. Let's hope umpire Taufel's decision only changes the course of videotape arbitration.

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)