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AFP

Officials let down by ICC - Willey

Peter Willey, the former Test umpire, believes match officials are being let down by the ICC

07-Apr-2008

Peter Willey: 'When I was playing in the second XI, if you didn't walk when you nicked the ball you would get a telling off' © Getty Images
 
Peter Willey, the former Test umpire, believes match officials are being let down by the ICC. Willey, chairman of England's umpires' association, believes it is a "waste of time" for officials to report players for bad behaviour because they do not face severe enough punishment from the ICC.
Willey established himself as one of the world's leading Test umpires before stepping down from international duty when offered a post on the elite panel because he wished to spend more time with his family. It is no longer regarded as exceptional for players to openly show dissent at decisions while the recent series between Australia and India was marred by a series of on-field verbal confrontations between players from rival teams.
"When I first started playing in the middle 1960s you respected everything the umpire did. There was no arguing or dissent about being given out or not out," Willey said. "When I was playing in the second XI, if you didn't walk when you nicked the ball you would get a telling off."
"County cricket is still pretty good and there is respect. But I lose a bit of heart when I see what happens with the elite umpires who don't seem to get much backing from the ICC. There has been talk about players being banned but nobody has been close really. Why don't the umpires get support?
"It is all down to politics in Test cricket. Everyone I speak to has got their own ideas as to what causes these problems. I think from grass roots level up to Test level, if you know you will get 100% backing from your board or international council, you will try and do things properly.
"But if you think it is a waste of time telling someone off or reporting them because nothing is going to happen, you just don't bother. There needs to be more backing for umpires from the people in charge. Fines don't mean a lot because players get paid that much money, but suspensions are different."
However, Willey was less concerned by sledging or verbal abuse. "If you can't handle anyone sledging you, you shouldn't be out there. You should be strong enough to give it back. I always say to my son 'If someone sledges you, just go on and win the game'. That annoys people more than anything.
"In any case, sledging today is sissy stuff compared to years ago. You used to have words with the opposition, have a drink in the bar, laugh about it, and it was forgotten the next day."