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Bucknor up to his old tricks

with one comment

From Cricinfo:

The twilight twist
With gloom settling in and bad light almost certain to be offered, enter India’s favourite umpire, celebrating his 100th test. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were in the midst of a rescue act, quickly transforming into a match-turning one. Tendulkar had just completed his half-century, with a rasping square-drive off Abdul Razzaq.

Razzaq, in the middle of a disciplined and varied spell, started testing Tendulkar with short balls. In his next over, the first ball was again short, it went past Tendulkar’s outside edge and swung away after going past his bat. As replays confirmed, the ball missed the outside edge by some distance. Kamran Akmal dived to take the catch and appealed meekly, as did Razzaq, protractedly. Nothing came from Steve Bucknor, Tendulkar moved away from the crease and as Razzaq’s appeal withered, Bucknor suddenly raised his finger. Tendulkar jumped as if facing another short ball, stunned, Pakistan went ecstatic and the match took, on a day of twists, one final controversial one. A case perhaps for offering light to the umpire?

When an umpire makes a honest mistake, it can somehow be tolerated – but when someone standing in on his 100th test and supposedly one of the better ones around commits such a major blooper – it is unforgivable. And this is not really the first time Bucknor has done the Indians in, particularly Tendulkar. While it is difficult to subscribe to conspiracy theories suggesting Bucknor has a special dislike against the Indians, I cannot remember any other umpire since the days neutral unpiring who has given as many questionable decisions against this team. I have seen Shepherd, Aleem Dar, Ashoka deSilva, Venkat etc all getting it wrong sometimes (‘afterall they are humans’ – so goes the overused cliche) – but not consistenstly against a single team. Additionally, I have noticed he is often petulant in his behaviour against the Indians – I remember he was outright scolding Parthiv Patel in Australia (to be fair Patel was appealing rather too loudly for something that was obviously not out – but I am not sure losing temper is good sign for an umpire). As some of the match-reports and comments by people who actually saw the game suggests, he was again irritated today with Tendulkar and Dravid when they complained about the light conditions. One of the regular contributors at, Sadiq Yusuf aka Cricketwallah – a person who has a keen understanding of the game and does not generally blow off steam in a partisan manner, – writes:

In this match, I think Bucknor has done a very fine job
before now – he has made the odd error (the no-ball etc), but basically he has also made some excellent decisions.
This decision today however was awful – but not just because
it was a poor decision IMHO. He just seemed annoyed by
the appealing for bad-light, and seemed to be more and more
unwilling to even consider the appeals out of annoyance
(as the light was getting worse). The Indians didnt help
by appealing repeatedly – maybe just a quiet word would have
worked better. But still, that isnt how one should react as
umpire – Hair seemed much more amenable even with the appealing.
I really do think, give how long he waited to make the
decision (again, long even by his standards) that he might
not have gotten a great look at the ball – and that was probably
*because* the light had faded so much. But, almost on
instinct, he gave it anyway. I dont think he’s biased – he
has made basically fair and pretty good decisions for 3 days
so far other than this one. But it seemed almost that he
was just pissed off at the Indians for their appeals against
the light, and it felt as if he let it cloud his judgement
on the caught-behind appeal. Which, IMHO, is worse than
actually just making a poor decision to give it out.

Relations were deteriorating even more after that happened –
Tendulkar looked unhappy as he walked off, but first I thought
it was just frustration due to the light-issue, it was as he
neared the boundary that he clearly seemed upset by the decision
itself (and replays confirmed it wasnt close). Ganguly obviously
thought so too – he came in shaking his head and asking about
the light before he played a ball, and continued to ask for
it almost every ball. After being turned down a couple more
times (almost lost a bouncer directed at him once, taking
his eyes off and hooking/fending), he smacked a ball thru
cover for four almost out of spite, and then still shook his
head as if he couldnt believe he wasnt being given the
light 🙂 He talked to Hair about it too, at square-leg
IIRC. Finally it was in the middle of next over that Hair
walked over to Bucknor again, and they decided to offer
the light.

Even if this decision was not due to some hidden spite against the Indian team or Tendulkar, the ICC should sreiously consider if Bucknor is up to scratch in terms of the physical and mental fitness required while umpiring the modern game. Unfortunately, once you are in the Elite umpiring panel, it is apparently like a job in the Indian public sector, no matter how much you suck, you still hold on to your job. Srinivas Venkataraghavan, who was considered one of the premier umpires retired last year when he thought when he decided he was getting too old to handle the pressures of umpiring. It was a good decision, since, Venkat was starting to make glaring in the few tests (although nothing on this level) before his retirement. Will Bucknor and maybe even Shepherd learn from him ?Reading the various reports for the third day’s play, it seems like Tendulakar was in sublime form – the so called ‘Tendulkar of the old’ (I have problems with this description – but may another post to tackle that issue). This report by Dileep Premachandran, was particularly eloquent:

Tendulkar, though, will have no part to play in what promises to be an intriguing penultimate day. A few weeks from now, jealous mediocrity will crawl out of the woodwork and nibble at his reputation, citing that inability to apply the finishing touches. In a democracy, that must be tolerated, as were the Philistines who mocked and persecuted Galileo. Only those who sat and watched a gorgeous sunrise obscured by a man-made storm can appreciate how close a supreme batting artist came to painting in the one blank space in an otherwise breathtaking canvas.


Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 18, 2005 at 11:11 am

Posted in Cricket, Sports

One Response

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  1. Bucknor’s worst moment came when he parodied Dravid as he came into bat—rubbing a ball and implying Dravid is a cheat. And ICC allowed such a blatant display of bias to pass uncensured.


    March 23, 2005 at 11:29 pm

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