"Dem goin' have tuh make greater use of de technology, y'hear?"
He wasn't seething with rage, but the customs officer at Grantley Adams International Airport (yes, Barbados, not Malaysia, but that's another story) felt it was necessary to highlight the common train of thought running through the Caribbean cricketing fraternity in the aftermath of yet another contentious Brian Lara dismissal yesterday.
It may be stretching it to suggest that Lara was definitely on course to keep West Indies in the hunt for a target of 241 against Australia in the DLF Cup final in Kuala Lumpur, especially as things were already looking pretty grim when he came in at 20 for 3 in the 10th over. Australia were back to full strength and were fully charged up to show they were still very much numero uno after failing to defend a total of 272 six days earlier.
But then again, who knows? The West Indies captain had belted 87 off them in that victory last Monday, and his unbeaten 40 coming in at number nine against India two days later was a cameo that touched the levels of the sublime in the way he made such a mockery of all that had preceded him. Ramnaresh Sarwan was obviously in the mood to hang around, and, as we've seen many times before, Lara's mastery at one end tends to inspire the lesser mortals partnering him from 22 yards away.
All of that is, of course, speculation. But one thing is an indisputable fact. It takes a tremendous level of self-control to avoid making a very obvious display of disgust at yet another umpiring decision against the one man who has so often made the difference between victory and defeat for a West Indies side struggling desperately for over a decade.
There is always a danger of making too much of one incident, for nothing is ever certain in the unpredictable world of sport. Who would have ever thought that Ian Bradshaw, a self-confessed part-time cricketer, would be ranked at number five in the latest list of the world's best bowlers in the one-day international rankings? However it is surely not being too parochial to attempt to analyse just why Lara seems to be victim of so many dubious or flagrantly poor decisions. Are the umpires out to get him? No, never mind what anyone says.
Are the opponents out to get him? Absolutely, and the more high profile the opposition, the more celebrated the bowler, the greater the pressure on the official to raise that index finger. And being human, umpires, despite the very best training and the toughest character, are more likely to waver under a constant bombardment from teams accustomed to dominating the competition.
So it is, so it has been and so it always will be until every controversial decision is verified or reversed by technology. Even then, there will be a suspicion of conspiracy by the aggrieved party, however unjustified, especially as the manipulation and interpretation of the technology remains a human task.
Check it out yourself. The pages of sporting history are replete with instances where critical decisions went in favour of the team or the individual with the more impressive pedigree. It doesn't make it right, but it might make it a little more bearable to appreciate that Lara is not alone in paying the price for being the superstar in a struggling side.
Nor should his unfortunate demise yesterday divert attention from other issues surrounding a 127-run cut-tail. Like why Wavell Hinds, in such woeful form throughout the tournament, was persisted with for every match? It defied all logic. Now everyone has seen just why there is still a debate over Runako Morton's role in the team, even if he has fought hard to make the most of almost every opportunity that has come his way in the past 15 months.
|By the time the last of five one-dayers against Pakistan is played in Karachi, the heavy loss at the Kinrara Cricket Academy Oval will seem a distant memory|
While we sympathise with the national hero for being given out caught behind to a delivery he never touched, he should still be asked to explain why he persists with Dwayne Bravo as the "death" bowler, especially when it was killing the team's chances of keeping totals down to manageable proportions. Add to that the allrounder's impetuosity at the crease (yesterday's demise was just the latest example of poor shot selection) and it should be clear that West Indies have more to look at in the aftermath of a heavy defeat than constant replays of an erroneous decision.
Even if it all fell apart in the final, this is just the first leg of an Asian campaign that has another 13 weeks to run. By the time the last of five one-dayers against Pakistan is played in Karachi on December 16, the heavy loss at the Kinrara Cricket Academy Oval will seem a distant memory. Not that the lessons of each segment of the tour should be forgotten by the time the players settle into their business class seats for the next leg of the journey. But it serves no useful purpose to hanker over the captain's latest contentious dismissal.
In fact, if all goes according to form, there will be more dubious decisions against him before the squad returns home, giving the customs officer more ammunition to launch at the ICC. Amid the agonising of others, Lara will, quite sensibly, just shrug his shoulders and get on with the game.