Vantage point

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Realer Question to Ask

... is why isn't the jingoistic media and the average Indian cricket fan not taking the BCCI to task? Why was Bucknor umpiring in the test in the first place?

In 2004 I was one of the crores of Indians who woke up early in the morning of January 6th hoping to see India win their first ever test series in Australia. The match ended in a draw thanks to horribly incompetent umpiring by Steve Bucknor, among other things. Sourav Ganguly, the then Indian captain wrote a scathing report about his umpiring. Bucknor has given further and ampler proof of his incompetence even in a setting where India were not involved and Australia were possibly the victims - the 2007 World Cup finals. And yet the ICC appointed Bucknor as an umpire and the BCCI did not protest against it.

So on another January 6th, 4 years hence, India lost a test match which they would possibly have won. A large portion of the blame goes to Bucknor. But then, he is after all, incompetent at the very least, and maybe even biased. He gave the middle finger to Parthiv Patel in the 2004 series, a gesture if, it had been made by a player to an umpire, would have resulted in a long ban. Yet, Bucknor stood in the test. And the BCCI did nothing about it.

The BCCI also permitted a series schedule in which the Indian team had little time to acclimatize. When India pulled off a surprising draw in the 2003-04 series, they had 2 practice games before the first test, one of them against Victoria, the same side against which the practice game was washed out this time. They then had another practice game against a very formidable Australia A side before the third test. An Aussie A side which contained Hussey, Hodge, Clarke and Tait. And yet this tour seems to have been poorly planned, with little time to acclimatize, and a lesser opposition chosen for the interim practice game.

Of course, Bucknor was a bad umpire in the Sydney test. Of course the Australians played and behaved in a manner that made Jardine's 32-33 side look like paragons of sportsmanship. But that does not explain why the incompetent nincompoops at BCCI should escape public wrath.