Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another test for the IPL

I briefly followed one of the IPL games this morning, and Cricinfo's commentary reported the following:

18.2 Maharoof to NK Patel, OUT, confusion! Patel gigs out a yorker top the off side and sets off for a risky run, Watson is sent back and he's miles out of his crease as the throw misses the stumps, they take a run anyway off the overthrow but Watson's really struggling to make his ground at the striker's end, the throw to Karthik is accurate and he whips off the bails. Now here's the drama - Delhi celebrate but umpire Steve Davis refuses to call for the third umpire, Delhi fielders are really peeved and Sehwag has a word with umpire Koertzen, Watson is also fuming about the situation, as if to suggest they get on with the game, finally the third umpire is called and gives Watson the marching orders.

Umpire Pratap Kumar, was suspended by Match Referee Farokh Engineer for doing something almost identical - making a referral after being requested to do so by a player. The difference between the two instances is that on this occasion it is the fielding side making the request. I have been critical of the IPL for granting Farokh Engineer the authority to officially rebuke an Umpire, although i am in a minority on this one - most people don't seem to think of it as a non-trivial event, inspite of the obviously unprecedented realignment of authority among match officials that it represents.

On this occasion though, Rudi Koertzen is again the Umpire at the other end, but the Umpire in question is a former Test Umpire from Australia - Steve Davis. What will the IPL do? If consistency is to be achieved, then the IPL must continue on its disastrous course of pitting Referees against Umpires; of having Referees sit in judgement of Players and Umpires. If they set aside the Pratap Kumar verdict, under some flimsy pretext (request coming from the fielding side as against the batsman for example), then they will show themselves to be worse than the ICC in this matter. The IPL is faced with two bad options - suspend Steve Davis and show consistent stupidity, or ignore the matter, and show inconsistency - something which will be construed as racist in some sense - the book is thrown more easily at a small time Indian umpire, than it is at the big name Australian elite panel umpire.

But then again, Referees and big name umpires have been mere show ponies at the IPL anyways. That they had referees without having a code of conduct in place is testimony to this lackadaisical apathy. It is almost as though the referee and the umpires are part of the show, as much as the cricket is.

The WWE analogy returns....


  1. If they let Davis off, then it won't be inconsistent. Pratap's referral to the third umpire was in clear breech of the playing conditions, since you can't refer catches when an umpire could see it. Davis didn't go upstairs at first because he was under the impression that there was no television coverage. (Why? No idea....) When the referral was eventually made, it was a perfectly valid one, since you can refer for run-outs.

  2. The problem was that Pratap Kumar came under the influence of the player (Ganguly) - Davis did so as well (Sehwag & co).

    Pratap Kumar's suspension was a disastrous decision, but IPL will probably get away with it, because nobody seems to care to view anything in the IPL critically (and by that i mean thoughtfully, i dont use the word critical in its negative sense).