Sports Comment: 'Confusion worst confounded' in Sharjah

15 November 1996

'Confusion worst confounded' that could be the ideal title for film makers if they want to do a film on the comedy that was enacted at the Sharjah Stadium in the UAE where the Singer Champions trophy was in progress.

The Sri Lankans were confident that they were in the final as they had a higher run rate than New Zealand the other team endeavouring to figure in the final and this was confirmed by match referee former England captain Mike Smith who first announced this because Sri Lanka had a better run rate than the Kiwis.

It appears that throughout the day phone calls had been going to the International Cricket Conference chief executive David Richards who it had informed the match referee that net run-rates would be considered since the Kiwis had not won all their matches.

But after the match between Pakistan and New Zealand, like one of those ankle crushing yorkers that comes from Waqar Younis like a bolt form the blue, match referee Smith overruled his earlier decision and tossed New Zealand into the today's final.

Now this came about because of rule 11.1 governing one-day internationals which stipulate that if two teams have equal points, the side which won more matches in the league goes through.

If that was the case then New Zealand should have been through because they beat Sri Lanka in one game and the second meeting ended in a tie. But what had the organisers and the match referee in a dither was the wordings ''winner of all of the preliminary match(es) played between them will be placed in the higher position''.

Smith in consultation with Richards ruled that the net run-rates would be taken into consideration because the Kiwis had not won all their matches.

Apparently the framing of these rules had been done by the United Cricket Board of South Africa and the Kiwis not satisfied with Smith's decision turned to the (UCBSA) for a clarification.

The South Africans then bowled a googly as it were, informing the ICC that the wordings of the rules were 'ambiguous' and that New Zealand should be declared the finalists as they had a better league record against Sri Lanka.

This uncertainty was no doubt one whole big comedy and it once again went to add muscle to the credence that the International Cricket Conference is a toothless tiger.

But the South Africans who made these rules were themselves stumped and they wriggled out of it very cleverly by saying that the wordings of the rules were 'ambiguous'.

If the fiasco that was enacted in Sharjah is going to be repeated and if the match referee on whom the teams look for rulings is not competent enough to do his job, then this whole concept must be given a serious rethink.

Cricket is too good a game to be spoilt by incompetence, uncertainty and ambiguity.

We are certainly not taking the two teams Sri Lanka and New Zealand to task for this fiasco. They played the game the way it should be played.

The ICC, the rule makers and the organisers must hide their faces in shame over the disgrace and dishonour that they brought to the game.

Rules must be rules and they must not be varied. To vary would mean to cause friction and sour the good relations that exist between the countries playing the game.

Source: The Daily News

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:04