I think that the ICC umpire, Ian Robinson of Zimbabwe should thank his lucky stars that he was standing in a Test match that involved New Zealand and not South Africa.

The New Zealanders did complain but at least they did not accuse Robinson of being in the pay of bookies as Ali Bacher had accused Javed Akhtar of such skullduggery.

Of course, Bacher did not have a shred of evidence but who cares about such details? Besides, Javed Akhtar was a Paki. Robinson may well have cost New Zealand the series, he gave Steve Waugh not out in Australia's second innings, a caught behind which in the words of one of the commentators, "a snick that was heard by the entire crowd except the umpire."

One appreciates that the replays available to the commentators are not available to the umpires and they get only one bite at the cherry. But surely a caught behind does not need technology, just reasonably good hearing.

The question is: has the umpiring improved with the introduction of technology? I feel it hasn't made much difference, human errors continue to be made and even the third umpire is known to have got it wrong. I think we need to soldier on. The umpire's job has always been a difficult one but with the availability of technology, additional pressure is now being put on the umpire and it must be a hell for him to know that seconds after he has given a decision, replays will be seen all over the world showing he has made a mistake.

But this is not the only pressure he has to deal with. Misbehaviour of players on the field is on the increase though this does not directly involve him except in regard to some show of dissent and excessive and aggressive appealing, which sometimes makes him give a wrong decision.

In the circumstances, the umpires do a pretty decent job. In the first Test match at Mohali, some verbals were exchanged between Andrew Flintoff and Saurav Ganguly and one had visions the match referee getting into the act but Steve Bucknor intervened like a school master sorting out two scrapping boys. He spoke to both of them and asked them to cool it. There was no further trouble in the entire match. This is what a good umpire is supposed to be - a father figure.

The contrast between the treatment handed out to Virender Sehwag and Brett Lee makes a revealing contrast. Sehwag had the book thrown at him by Mike Denness, while Lee got away with having a percentage of his match fee docked. Yet the offence of Lee seemed the greater for his gesture of sending off a New Zealand batsman he had dismissed was almost vulgar.

In any case, it was unbecoming of someone who was representing his country. It was watched by millions on television, not the best advertisement for Australian sportsmanship nor an example for young cricketers to emulate. I was surprised that both Steve Waugh and the Australian coach John Buchanan did not seem to find anything wrong and in fact praised Lee for his youthful exuberance.

But I can't help imagine a Pakistani or Indian or Sri Lankan bowler getting off so lightly. And while on the subject of Lee, he too had been reported by the umpires for 'chucking' but nothing further was ever heard but the Shoaib Akhtar saga keeps going on. This goes beyond double standards. This seems to be a plan to keep the world's fastest bowler out of international cricket.

Nothing has pleased me more than the return of form to Brian Lara. He seems hungry for runs once again. Who knows he may lead the revival of West Indies cricket? But I rather fear that the West Indies will need much more than Lara's runs. They just don't have the bowling even to get Zimbabwe out. It seems that the well has just dried out. No signs of another Courtney Walsh or Curtly Ambrose. On their present showing not one West Indian bowler would get even into the Bangladesh team.

As I write the second Test between India and England at Ahmedabad would have begun. I was in Ahmedabad in 1987 and cannot truthfully say that I have the fondest memories of that visit. The ground was miles from the city and we had to travel over a dusty road to get there. The less said about the hotel where we stayed the better. In fact, the brightest memory is of the red soil of the wicket.

Things may have changed. We too had been told that the wicket would take spin. It didn't in the match-winning sense of the word. In fact it was a flat wicket and we would have played a timeless Test on it. England lost the first Test in the mind. I don't think the England batsmen applied themselves. They had heard about Indian spinners operating in Indian conditions. I'm afraid they were victims of their own fears.

There is so much rubbish talked about the wickets in the subcontinent that the visiting teams put themselves needlessly under pressure. By now most tourists know that the Indian rope-trick is an optical illusion. Indians and Pakistanis have to make some adjustments to adapt to English conditions. Similarly, England need to adapt to Indian conditions. Otherwise, it's the same game.