Standard of umpiring has deteriorated

What is the penalty for a poor decision, asks Makarand Waingankar

In my last column, I had written about the growing tendency of the cricket associations to doctor the pitches. Less than a day later, the Orissa Cricket Association registered a protest against Punjab for doctoring the pitch at Mohali. A video footage, too, has been sent to the BCCI.

To avoid such problems, would it not be advisable to have all the matches at neutral venues? At a time when the BCCI’s Working Committee has decided to change the Ranji Trophy format to encourage the Plate finalists to play against the Super League teams, bad pitches and the abysmal standard of umpiring have shown Indian cricket in poor light.

Though scathing criticism from all quarters made the BCCI introduce certain measures to improve the standard of umpiring, the fact is that one can’t expect a carthorse to win the derby.

Umpire Simon Taufel was invited to conduct a course a few months back, but the initiative seems to have been lost after his departure.

Good concept

The concept of umpires’ coach is good, but how does that help the game to be supervised competently if the umpires’ mistakes are not brought to their notice during the game? With all the huge investments that the BCCI and the associations are making to acquire expertise from a company in doing the ball-by-ball match analysis for the Umpire’s Coach to act, not informing the field umpires of their mistakes immediately will make the effort meaningless.

If the process cannot help the umpires rectify their mistakes during the interval or at the end of the day’s play, why have it in the first place? In one of the important Super League matches, an umpire who had been the fourth umpire in one of the Tests against Pakistan gave poor decisions.

This makes quality umpires, overlooked for better postings, complain rightly that in Indian cricket who you know matters more than what you know and how you perform.

And what is the penalty in case an umpire makes a poor decision? Those playing first-class cricket have a valid point when they ask why incompetent umpiring is not penalised by docking a certain percentage of the umpire’s match allowance. The umpires, having managed to get plum jobs, may understandably wish to get more such postings. But if they have a poor knowledge of the laws of the game, the issue has to be sorted out by the newly-formed committee under former ICC umpire S. Venkatraghavan.

Make it public

Why can’t the committee make public the marks that the umpires obtain during the season so that the charges of nepotism levelled by the umpires’ fraternity could be stopped? There are 38 umpires who are posted for the senior and junior matches, but the umpires complain some of them have been given only one Ranji match this season despite the good marks they have got in their assessments, whereas those who have done badly have been given more games.

Though the ICC umpires Suresh Shastri and Amish Saheba have been doing a decent job, the general standard of umpiring in India is deteriorating every season. To stem this rot, the committee chaired by Venkatraghavan needs to meet the umpiring candidates individually before appointing them. They can’t be playing with the careers of the cricketers.

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