Friday, September 17, 2021
HomeOpinionDiaryCricket umpiring, a thankless job — Part I

Cricket umpiring, a thankless job — Part I

There were lots of criticism about the standard of umpiring going down in the World of Cricket. To err is human but to err on a line call when replays are there is a blunder. It is usually said that the line belongs to the umpire and even the third umpire err at times, which includes pressing the red button instead of a green button to cause a stir. If an International umpire fails always, he is blacklisted and removed from the elite panel of umpires. At the same time, when an umpire is doing extremely well in a particular season, then he is rewarded by the ICC in its annual function.

An umpire is the only single person who, alone can make or ruin a game of cricket. If he makes it, your average cricketer takes the fact for granted. If he ruins it, your cricketer grumbles, forgetting that, for far too long, cricketers have paid too little attention to the umpiring of their matches. Players have only half knowledge about DRS but they make big cry all the time. Cricket is a team game where performance is the name of the game.  Just like batting, bowling and fielding, umpiring also play a crucial role in deciding the course of the match. As an umpire of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, I was able to officiate matches at Delhi, Chennai, Coimbatore and Mumbai.  Umpiring is a thankless job but at the same time, it is a very interesting profession also. My brother was a mentor, who took initiative to make a class umpire in the circuit. The hit and run game of cricket makes the umpire also to run here and there. You need a lot of concentration, patience and perseverance to be a successful umpire.

An umpire is the only single person who, alone can make or ruin a game of cricket. If he makes it, your average cricketer takes the fact for granted. If he ruins it, your cricketer grumbles, forgetting that, for far too long, cricketers have paid too little attention to the umpiring of their matches. The recruitment of umpires, especially at lower club level, is often left to chance and the standard of umpiring can thereby be unacceptably low. Apart from the familiar sight of members of the batting side joylessly serving half-an-hour stints, one might find cricketers unfit through injury, social members with little to commend them save a wish to oblige, casual spectators, pressed into service for the afternoon and willing enthusiasts, uninformed and untaught, entertaining themselves without giving the players much satisfaction. Retired players ostensibly the most likely potential umpires, frequently make themselves available but although their experience provides invaluable background, the finer points of an exciting match are apt to escape them, a few players have more than a passing knowledge of the Laws.

It is quite imperative to note that players learn by experience. When Gary Sobers was asked to follow-on in West Indies in a match curtailed by rain for four days, the leeway ought to be 150 runs and not 200 runs as in the case of a five-day game to enforce a follow-on. Gary was surprised but quickly learned from the mistake. Geoff Boycott was once caught red-handed for not knowing a basic rule in Australia. Hit wicket rule is misconstrued and misused as well. My brother was given out hit wicket when he was in the process of taking a run and the bat accidentally fell on the wicket. That compelled him to learn the laws of the game and he became one of the first-rate umpires in DDCA. It is all in the game. At times umpires are forced to give decision so that an outright win can be possible to attain points in a league game. Again, if you give a star batsman out LBW, the fielding side will look at you with a strange look as though you committed a murder.

 

( This is the first part of the Diary, the latter part will be continued tomorrow)

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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