Sunil Gavaskar, the chairman of the ICC cricket committee, has questioned the role of umpires and the match referee in diffusing on-field confrontations between players.
The recently-concluded one-day series between India and Australia saw ill-tempered exchanges between the players on the pitch and through the media. Gavaskar said while the blame rested on the management of the teams for letting the situation deteriorate, the umpires and match referee were no less culpable.
"One is not privy to the report the match referee may have sent to ICC but the fact that not even one player from both sides has been reported and reprimanded shows the referee and the umpires did not do the job assigned to them and that was to see that the game was not brought into disrepute and the spirit of cricket maintained," Gavaskar wrote in his column in the Mid-Day tabloid.
Gavaskar questioned the need of a match referee if he could act only when the umpires had made a report. "He [match referee] is there not just to protect the umpires from the players but to see that the game goes on without any untoward incidents and what happened between the two players was definitely not cricket. By abdicating their responsibility, match officials let the game down big time and have raised a big question mark on their ability to control the game and players.
"It would be sad if the ICC turns a blind eye to what happened during the series, for even while accepting that the game has changed and become far more aggressive than yesteryears, what was seen on the cricket field did not do any good to the image of the game nor enhance the quality by any stretch of imagination."