Form indicates IOC regaining trophy

Does an assault on an umpire by a player on the field of play constitute a criminal offence? This is a matter for debate; may even be taken up for discussion in a symposium. The matter surfaced in an interaction consequent to the attack on hockey umpire Surya Prakash by Sunil Ekka and some Army players in the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament. Sunil Ekka was rightly red-carded for the misdemeanour and debarred from taking further part in the competition.

The question whether the action can be pursued as a breach of criminal law was raised in an informal discussion by Jagan Seshadri, Retired Director-General of Police, and a keen sports enthusiast.

His take on the incident is that the player(s) joining in an assault on an unprotected official on the field falls within the scope of criminal enquiry and punishment.

He argued, in relation to this specific incident, the attack reflected a reaction as an intention to hurt and humiliate a neutral supervisor. The opinion expressed by Mr. Seshadri raises several interesting points, which fall within the ambit of the current debate on sport and the law. A more detailed debate on the issue is bound to throw up new perspectives.

Exciting phase

Sans this embarrassing incident, the 86th edition of the event, sponsored by the Murugappa Group and conducted by the Madras Cricket Club, has coursed through an interesting, and even exciting league phase.

There were plenty of goals and action thus far. Who among the four — IOC, ONGC, Indian Railways and Punjab National Bank — is destined to take the glittering Gold Cup and the enhanced cash prize of Rs. 2.5 lakh will be known on Sunday.

On form, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) seems well placed to regain the trophy. Possibly, it is the best balanced outfit, replete with current and former internationals, headed by the ebullient Deepak Thakur and the energetic winger Prabjhot Singh supported by the hard-working playmaker Inderjit Chadha.

Drag-flicker Raghunath and striker Roshan Minz have also contributed immensely to the success — a sweep of four-in-a-row win in the league stage to top the pool with 12 points.

ONGC leans on the proficiency of penalty corner hitter Diwakar Ram, while Railways depends on Innocent Kullu to rise to the occasion when demanded. PNB was a surprise packet in the tournament scoring an upset win over the more fancied BPCL. Striker Bruno Lugan is in fine fettle and PNB should prove it when the team locks horns with ONGC.

The competition has underlined the need for the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) to attend immediately to the better maintenance of the turf.

The dirt on the surface, possibly due to overuse of the facility, with players pounding it with poor and badly designed footwear, combined with the air pollution around, has damaged the costly surface.

The best the SDAT can do at this juncture is to close the stadium for a few days after the tournament and hand it over to a professional agency for a thorough cleaning of the artificial pitch removing the mud and dirt visible on the surface.

Else the pitch, laid at enormous expense, will be rendered unfit for play sooner than expected.

Saturday's matches: ONGC v Punjab National Bank (4.15 p.m.); IOC v Indian Railways (6.15 p.m.).

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 6:24:00 PM |

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