An umpire’s word is final, except when technology is around

Although the Laws of Cricket accord absolute determination to umpires, they are human and have made errors along the way. (Action Images via Reuters/File Photo)
Although the Laws of Cricket accord absolute determination to umpires, they are human and have made errors along the way. (Action Images via Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 16 September 2021

An umpire’s word is final, except when technology is around

Although the Laws of Cricket accord absolute determination to umpires, they are human and have made errors along the way. (Action Images via Reuters/File Photo)
  • Television technology and off-field umpires may have changed decision making at elite level, but club cricket still takes the word of only one man

LONDON: As a boy, when I was learning how to play and understand cricket, it was drummed into me by my seniors that the umpire’s decision was final. I witnessed and suffered what appeared to be poor or biased decisions by umpires who made me question the veracity of this mantra.

In the league in which I cut my teeth, neutral umpires were appointed, but it seemed that some of them carried baggage about certain clubs and individuals from prior encounters. One incident which has stuck with me occurred in a match between my local town club and a fierce local rival. Whilst I was batting, the opponents appealed for a catch by the wicket keeper. As I was sure that I hit the ball, I “walked,” not waiting for the umpire’s decision.

On my way back to the pavilion, I was met by my captain, who, pointing behind, said, in strong terms, go back, the umpire has not given you out. I was in a quandary. Do I disobey my captain, independently overrule the umpire, or face the wrath of the opposition? I chose the latter and faced sustained verbal abuse. The umpire who gave me not out, whispered words to the effect, don’t let these people get the better of you. I never knew if he had made an error or had favoured me instead of the opposition. What it did confirm to me is that an umpire has authority.

The incident caused me to access the first codified Laws of Cricket, drawn up in 1744. These specify that the umpire is allowed a certain amount of discretion, making it clear that the umpire is the “sole judge” and that “his determination shall be absolute.” While not saying the umpire’s word is final, it is as close as one can get. 

Although the Laws accorded absolute determination to umpires, they are human and have made errors along the way. The acceptance of such errors or perceived injustices, have varied from sanguine acceptance to visible shakes of the head, to bat throwing, to verbal confrontations and challenges to the fabric of the game. 

One such event occurred in August 2006. The umpires alleged that the Pakistani team had illegally attempted to alter the condition of the ball. This can occur by gouging the surface or lifting the seam. Within their discretion under Law 42.3, the umpires awarded the opposition team, England, five runs and the choice of a replacement ball. The Pakistani team staged a protest and remained in their dressing room. After much toing and froing, it was agreed that the match could not be re-started and the Pakistan captain thereby forfeited the match.

On Sept. 28, 2006, the report of the match referee effectively dismissed the allegations of ball tampering in saying that there was insufficient evidence that the fielding side had changed the condition of the ball beyond normal wear and tear. This was a clear and historic case when the match referee overruled the decision of umpires, effectively ruining the career of one of them. The Pakistani captain was found guilty only of bringing cricket into disrepute and given a four match One-Day International ban.

Two decades before, unsavoury clashes in Pakistan between home umpires and England’s captain of the time in 1987 caused a furore. Ironically, Imran Khan, then Pakistan’s captain, tired of criticism and accusations of home umpiring, had arranged in 1986 for two Indian umpires to stand in a test against the West Indies. The experiment was continued for the Pakistan-India series in 1988-89, when two English umpires were invited to stand.

It was clear that cricket had a problem and, in 1992, the International Cricket Council (ICC) appointed one neutral umpire per test on an experimental basis, with full adoption two years later. Progression to two neutrals was made in 2002. Alongside this change, the role of match referee evolved, designed to ensure that the ICC’s Code of Conduct was upheld and proper facilities provided. The first appointment was made in 1991-1992.

Advances in television technology, especially the slow-motion replay, had also begun to further expose erroneous umpiring decisions. An electronic back up was required to support umpires. This arrived in 1992 in the form of an off-field third umpire — also known as the TV umpire — who could be consulted by the on-field umpires on certain decisions: A run-out, stumping and boundaries.   

Such arrangements continued until 2009 when, after two years of trials, England’s Test series against the West Indies allowed both teams the opportunity to challenge the decisions made by the on-field umpires. A second opinion could be requested from the third umpire, who had access to repeated television replays.

Prior to this, it was against the spirit of cricket to dispute an umpire's decision by word, action or gesture. From 2009, in international cricket, the shake of the head, the curse or verbal confrontation could be delayed or eliminated by a review of the original decision. Since then, there have been further technological advances with more tracking technology at the disposal of the off-field umpires that serve to make further inroads into the authority of the on-field umpires. These and their impact will be explored in a subsequent column.

In club cricket around the world, no such technological interventions exist. The game is the same as it always was. Opportunities for dispute continue to exist. In many matches, players act as umpires, dispensing duties with as much impartiality as they can muster, knowing that their decision is absolute and that abuse of this power could lead to anarchy. It is tempting to conclude that, currently, an umpire at this level has more absolute on-field authority than those at the elite level.


Americans win back Ryder Cup with a record margin of victory

Americans win back Ryder Cup with a record margin of victory
Updated 14 sec ago

Americans win back Ryder Cup with a record margin of victory

Americans win back Ryder Cup with a record margin of victory
  • Sends a strong message with their youngest team by giving Europe its worst loss ever
SHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin: The Americans won back the Ryder Cup and perhaps a whole lot more Sunday, sending a strong message to Europe with a powerful performance from their youngest team in history.
The Americans won back the Ryder Cup and perhaps a whole lot more Sunday, sending a strong message with their youngest team by giving Europe its worst loss ever.
They never lost a session. They rode the experience of Dustin Johnson, who won all five of his matches and leaned on six Ryder Cup newcomers who combined for a 14-4-3 record.
Daniel Berger won the final hole in the final match for the final point and a 19-9 victory, breaking by a half-point the record margin since Europe became part of the Ryder Cup in 1979.
Scottie Scheffler, one of six Ryder Cup newcomers for the Americans, took down the No. 1 player in the world with a 4-and-3 victory over Jon Rahm as the scoreboards around Whistling Straits quickly filled with American red.
The final blow came from Collin Morikawa, at 24 the youngest player on the team and already a two-time major champion. He holed a 3-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole that assured the Americans at least the 14 1/2 points they needed.
The Americans had an 11-5 advantage going into singles and needed only to win three matches and halve another.
Europe’s Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick and Bernd Wiesberger all failed to win a point. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, part of the backbone of European experience, did not win a match until singles, and by then it was too late.
The next step is winning on the road, which the Americans haven’t done since 1993. Europe still has an 11-9-1 advantage since the Ryder Cup was expanded in 1979 to include the continent.

Choi wins at Pebble Beach for 1st PGA Tour Champions victory

Choi wins at Pebble Beach for 1st PGA Tour Champions victory
Updated 27 September 2021

Choi wins at Pebble Beach for 1st PGA Tour Champions victory

Choi wins at Pebble Beach for 1st PGA Tour Champions victory
  • Bernhard Langer, who has 41 PGA Tour Champions wins, had an uneven final round of 4-under 68 that included seven birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey

PEBBLE BEACH, California: K.J. Choi shot a closing 4-under 68 Sunday for a two-shot victory over Bernhard Langer and Alex Cejka at the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach for his first PGA Tour Champions win.
The 51-year-old Choi reeled off four consecutive birdies from Nos. 5-8 and played the front nine in 5 under. The South Korean had eight pars and a bogey on the back nine for a 13-under 203 total in his first victory since 2011, at The Players Championship.
“So very special ... my dream is winning,” Choi said.
The 64-year-old Langer, who has 41 PGA Tour Champions wins, had an uneven final round of 4-under 68 that included seven birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey.
The 50-year-old Cejka, who has two victories on the over-50 tour, started quickly, opening with three straight birdies, and four in the first five holes. He went on to bogey Nos. 6 and 8 and played the back nine in 2 under for a 68.
Choi, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, had a previous best finish on the senior circuit of tie for second at the 2020 Sanford International, where he lost in three-man playoff.
Ending the long winless run made this victory more special for Choi.
“The first win is exciting,” he said. “It’s a not easy still.”
With his second-place finish, Langer, the event’s 2017 champion, moved past Jim Furyk and Jerry Kelly into first place atop the Charles Schwab Cup standings as the season winds down.
“It’s fun,” said Langer, who last won at the Cologuard Classic in March 2020. “It’s fun to be in contention for the Schwab Cup once more. That’s what really everybody wants to be at here, I think. And especially we didn’t have one last year. If we had, I would have won that one, maybe. But we didn’t.”
“So it’s a very tight race, considering we’re having a two-year season, and there’s like eight guys in the running, or seven, or whatever. That’s pretty unusual. So it will be interesting the next few weeks and see who’s going to end up on top.”
Scott Dunlap finished fourth at 10 under after a final round of 6-under 66. Steven Alker (67) and Paul Stankowski (68) tied for fifth another stroke back.

 


UK PM urged to come to aid of Afghan girls’ football team

UK PM urged to come to aid of Afghan girls’ football team
Updated 26 September 2021

UK PM urged to come to aid of Afghan girls’ football team

UK PM urged to come to aid of Afghan girls’ football team
  • Team, some as young as 12, currently stranded in Lahore on temporary visas
  • Chairman of Premier League side Leeds United offers assistance, housing, education, training

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to help resettle Afghanistan’s junior women’s football team in Britain.
The 35-strong team plus 101 other associated people, including coaches and family members, are currently in Lahore where they have been granted temporary refuge until Oct. 12 after a personal intervention by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan helped get them out of Afghanistan after the country fell to the Taliban. 

They are being supported by the Rokit Foundation, NGO Football for Peace, and the chairman of English Premier League side Leeds United, Andrea Radrizzani, who has offered to “give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future,” helping with housing, employment for relatives, education and training opportunities with the club’s youth teams.

The team only escaped Afghanistan after an initial attempt to fly them to Qatar was scuppered by the deterioration of security in Kabul, with many of the girls facing additional threats from the Taliban on account of coming from various ethnic and religious minorities.

Rokit CEO Siu-Anne Marie Gill said the team’s departure from Afghanistan had become high-profile following Khan’s intervention, and members would be at great risk were they to return to the country.

“There were photos of their faces on TV, they will be in even more danger now,” she told The Guardian. “They’re the girls that got out. They cannot go back to Afghanistan, we have got to make this happen.”

She said she had written to Johnson to ask the UK to add the team, some of whom are as young as 12, to the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, after Australia offered sanctuary to the senior women’s team.

She added that other football clubs and local authorities in the UK have also offered support for the team should they be added to the ACRS.

Kashif Siddiqi, a former Pakistan footballer and co-founder of Football for Peace, said: “The race is on to find them a permanent safe haven. These girls were on the path for development for the national football team. Now, the very thing that gave them hope has become a risk to their life.”

The UK government said it is “urgently” looking into the matter “as part of the wider resettlement scheme.”


Lewis Hamilton wins 100th Formula One Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton wins 100th Formula One Grand Prix
Updated 26 September 2021

Lewis Hamilton wins 100th Formula One Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton wins 100th Formula One Grand Prix
  • The champion reached the unprecedented century in his Mercedes after being stuck on 99 since the British Grand Prix in July
  • Hamilton also claimed the championship lead by two points from Max Verstappen, who finished second

SOCHI: Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix for his 100th Formula One Grand Prix success on Sunday.
In treacherous rain the seven-time world champion reached the unprecedented century in his Mercedes after being stuck on 99 since the British Grand Prix in July.
Hamilton also claimed the championship lead by two points from Max Verstappen, who finished second.
After taking his 100th chequered flag 14 years after his first in Canada Hamilton told his team on the car radio: “Phew. That was hard work man!“
The 36-year-old Briton looked destined to come away for the fifth race stuck on the 99 mark with McLaren’s Lando Norris firmly in command up front.
But with five laps to go, the rain that had been threatening the 15th round of the championship for so long arrived, causing mayhem.
With cars fitted with slicks starting to lose grip and coming in for intermediates Hamilton joined them, leaving Norris leading.
But with three laps left and Norris a sitting duck and sliding all over the circuit Hamilton eventually hit the front to finally nail the magic number of victories.
After jumping out of his car he said: “The rain came, it was very opportunistic, the team did a great job, I’m grateful for the points.”


Joshua wants Usyk rematch ‘110 percent’

Joshua wants Usyk rematch ‘110 percent’
Updated 26 September 2021

Joshua wants Usyk rematch ‘110 percent’

Joshua wants Usyk rematch ‘110 percent’
  • Usyk's victory extended his unbeaten professional record to 19 wins
  • Joshua is determined to face Usyk again

LONDON: Anthony Joshua said he was “110 percent” likely to activate a rematch clause with Oleksandr Usyk after losing his world heavyweight titles to the Ukrainian in stunning fashion in London on Saturday
Usyk gave a boxing masterclass in recording a unanimous points victory to deprive Joshua of his World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization belts in front of the dethroned champion’s home crowd of more than 66,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
His victory extended Usyk’s unbeaten professional record to 19 wins and scuppered the prospects of an all-British world heavyweight title unification bout between Joshua and Tyson Fury.
It also meant Usyk became just the third cruiserweight world champion after Evander Holyfield of the United States and Britain’s David Haye to also take a heavyweight title, with the 34-year-old achieving the feat in just his third professional contest in the heavyweight ranks.
The contract for this bout, however, contained a rematch clause.
And Joshua, who previously lost his belts when beaten by Andy Ruiz in New York in June 2019 before regaining the titles in a rematch in Saudi Arabia six months later, is determined to face Usyk again.
“A hundred percent, 110 percent,” he told a post-fight press conference. “I’m ready to get back to training.
“There’s an old saying ‘If you want to go down as a great fighter, don’t fight southpaws’, especially good ones. He (Usyk) is a good fighter.”
Joshua suffered a badly swollen right eye which required medical attention in a fight where only the bell appeared to save him from a last-round knockout.
“I couldn’t see in the ninth round,” explained Joshua. “My eye was shut, but it was a good experience, because in adversity, you’ve just got to learn to control yourself... it’s the first time it’s happened in a fight.”
Joshua, sounding remarkably upbeat despite a convincing loss, insisted: “I’m a different kind of animal. I’m not a sulker, this is a blessed opportunity to be able to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.
“Straight away I’ve already been watching the fight and figuring out what I could have done better.”
Joshua’s defeat put paid to a fight anytime soon with Fury, who defends his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas next month — the third time the pair have met after a split-decision draw and a win for Fury.
Joshua, however, insisted: “I’ll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. It’s great, it’s legacy but with or without the belts I’ll fight whoever.”
Usyk, three years older than Joshua, also made light of giving away three inches (7.62 centimeters) in height as well as nearly 20lbs (nine kilogrammes) in weight during his latest triumph in London following a heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 Olympics — a Games where Joshua took the super-heavyweight title.
“London is a really lucky city for me but not a single professional victory can be above an Olympic gold,” said Usyk via a translator.
“At this point it is the biggest fight in my career but it wasn’t the hardest one. I cannot say (who was) but, most likely, it’s ahead of us.”
Most of Usyk’s wins have come outside Ukraine, with the new champion — who spent three months in a preparation camp away from his wife and family — adding: “I would love to have the rematch at Olympiyskiy Stadium in Kiev.”
But Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, suggested any rematch would be in Britain, in February or March.
Hearn said a defeat by the “outstanding” Usyk was easier to accept than the “bolt from the blue” that was the first Ruiz fight.
“I think in a strange way he (Joshua) enjoyed the fight because I think he knows he learnt so much and, deep down he knows he was beaten by the better man tonight,” he said.
“I think you need to credit him (Joshua) because he could have swerved that fight easy and maybe we should have, but that’s not really what he’s about.”
Hearn, who questioned whether Usyk could hit the same heights again after a “perfect fight,” added: “Anything can happen, but AJ will, I promise you, be much, much better than that in the re-match.”