When umpiring was made a mockery of

By Elmo Rodrigopulle

Tuesday 30, December 1997

After the disgrace that was foisted on international one-day cricket in Indore where for the first time in the history of the game the match had to be abandoned owing to an unplayable wicket, an umpire comes on the scene in the final one-day in Goa on Sunday and makes a mockery of what umpiring is all about.

The Sri Lankans who won the match comfortably squared the three match one-day series. They earlier drew the Three Test series. Overall the Lankans can be satisfied with this performance, because it is not easy to come out of India with such a performance.

Coming to the umpiring fiasco we are sure all those on the ground and the millions watching on TV would have laughed their sides out at the comedy that was enacted by one of the umpires.

There was no doubt that Ajay Jadeja who made a wild swing was caught behind by Romesh Kaluwitharane. The umpire too was convinced he was out. The umpire raised his finger to show Jadeja the way to the pavilion but suddenly changed his mind and fiddled with his hat, and overruled the appeal. Had he on second thoughts signalled a wide he would have saved the blushes.

Jadeja stood his ground and adjusted his gloves.

The Sri Lankans were simply flabbergasted. This type of village green umpiring has rarely been witnessed before and it was a mockery on the umpiring fraternity and what umpiring stands for.

Jadeja was given a second chance. Here in Sri Lanka when a batsman is given a second chance, it is termed 'badday kutti'. Everytime that incident was replayed cricket fans were laughing their sides out.

Later on when Sri Lanka were cruising to victory the Indians appealed for a run out against Kaluwitharne. This same umpire shook his head as if to turn down the appeal and then signalled to the third umpire for a ruling.

Sunil Gavaskar, one of the commentators at the time raised a laugh when he said that at least that umpire is consistent in changing his mind.

Referring to the disgrace of the game in Indore, it is heartening to note that a seven-member probe team with former Indian great Kapil Dev as its head has been appointed. This committee must probe all avenues that led to this fiasco and it is hoped that the authorities concerned will not take it as a laughing matter, but act on the report that will be submitted and action taken that will serve as a deterrent.

It was a fine team effort that enabled Sri Lanka to beat India by five wickets in the final game. Being the world champions they had a point to prove. After having beaten the Indians here convincingly, it would have been a travesty of justice had they lost the series there.

When Tendulkar won the toss and batted first, openers Ganguly and Jadeja gave them a dream start of 131 for the first wicket. It looked as though the Indians would run up an imposing score, but the Lankans overcame the disappointment of not having the wicket of Jadeja earlier and fought back to put the brakes on the Indian batting and the final score of 229 did not look beyond the reach of the Lankans.

Jayasuriya sent them off to a flier but impetuosity caused his downfall. The batsmen who followed, Mahanama, Aravinda de Silva, skipper Ranatunga and Kaluwitharne all batted with great responsibility and took their side to an easy victory.

De Silva who has had a marvellous year scoring runs at will crowned his success with yet another well controlled innings of 81 not out. He held the batting together and the running between the wickets with his partners all responding intelligently was a treat to watch and an example.

Having shown India where their cricket stands, the Lankans will now confront Zimbabwe in a Test and One-Day Series and if their performance in India is an indication they should not have to stretch much to defeat Campbell's men.

Source: The Daily News

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:16