Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 31st 2014 Contents A58
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt August 31, 2014
Sohag Gazi the Bangladeshi off-spinner.
Recently, troubling situations have
developed as regards especially inter-
national off-spinners being referred
by umpires to be assessed by ICC reg-
ulators with respect to their suspect
Latest are two veteran off-spinners,
Zimbabwe s Propser Utseya and Pak-
istan s world rated Saeed Ajmal, who
had prodigiously destroyed teams world-
wide. These situations are somewhat
Budding Bangladeshi off-spinner,
Sohag Gazi, who made his international
debut in 2012, has also been reported
for a suspect action during the recent
ODI series v West Indies.
The 23 year-old Gazi had a recent
birthday present that he could not enjoy,
after playing ten Tests, twenty ODI s
and nine T-20-I s; 64 wickets for his
country. He will be tested in September,
when his present tour to WI ends.
The 29 year-old Utseya has played
for Zimbabwe since 2004---fully ten
years---with four Tests, one hundred
fifty seven ODI s and twenty nine T-
20-I s; 157 wickets for his country.
He has never been thought to have
a suspect bowling action. Suddenly, he
is referred for exactly that!
The 36 year-old Ajmal s case is worse.
He had been cleared after having similar
assessments in the past, so this new
assessment can be almost career-ending
after debuting in 2008; Pakistan s best
He has played thirty five Tests, one
hundred and ten ODI s and sixty three
T-20-I s; 445 international wickets over-
all. Last week, Ajmal traveled to Brisbane,
Australia, from Sri Lanka, where his
team is engaged in a tight ODI series,
to undergo tests to confirm if some of
his recent deliveries were fair or illegal.
The obvious question is this: How
did these guys, and many others, manage
to play so much cricket over the last
years without any problems or calls
about their bowling actions?
In the last year, New Zealand s Kane
Williamson, Sri Lanka s Sachitra
Senanayake, WI s Shane Shillingford
and South Africa s Johan Botha, all off-
spinners, have been sent for tests. Very
Another adjunct question: What
happens now to all of the wickets that
these bowlers may have taken with sup-
posed bowling actions that were being
referred to as suspect?
Being steeped in aviation, I know the
usefulness of technology, automation,
and absolute use of computerisation in
all of our lives, but one must also note
that any machine could only work as it
has been programmed to do, by some
human, so as to operate well. Hence,
yes, they could also be wrong! In 1998,
West Indies played England in Test No.
5 of that 6-Test series, at Kensing-
ton Oval, Barbados, during which
I had great conversations with two
better friends in the international
Umpire Cyril Mitchley of South
Africa is one of the most honest
cricketing people I have ever met.
From a friendship and compet-
itiveness that went back to primary
school at Unity-Lancaster Govern-
ment School, Mahaica, and high
school at Central High school;
1970 s; Guyanese umpire Eddie
Nicholls, always productive for his
schools too or Police Sports Club,
was the other on-field umpire of
That was a treat, having con-
versations with people who were
honest and willing enough to give
their opinions and worrying
thoughts about our great game.
Unfortunately, that is not so any-
more. Incidentally, our main topic
of these conversations was that
umpires can be replaced by robots!
Neither umpire lasted much
longer after those times, as appar-
ently, nowadays, only almost
humanoid robots can become inter-
national umpires. What else can
anyone suggest, when present
umpires make no more than token
decisions anyway, seemingly
expecting, probably relieved that
most decisions would be reviewed
anyway, removing their on-field
responsibilities to umpires in the
, whose efforts are not always
better! Older, former WI cricketers
speak of umpires of a different time;
Australians Robbin Bailache and
Max O Connell, England s Arthur
Fagg, Dickie Bird and Dave Con-
stant, excellent umpires who would
not only give you out, or not,
instantly, but would take the time
to give reasons for decisions!
When I played for WI, our best
umpires were Jamaica s Douglas
Sang Hue and Trinidad & Tobago s
Ralph Gosein, with opportunities
too for Barbados Stanton Parris
and Guyanese Compton Vyphuis.
Few of their decisions were ques-
tioned, such was the trust and con-
tinuity of the game. Do not get this
incorrectly. Umpires back then
made mistakes too, but, generally,
so few and so evenly dispersed that
most were simply acknowledged,
the game moving on.
Sang Hue died recently, bringing
the end to a legacy and era that
would never return, since no longer
are umpires allowed to make almost
any calls whatsoever.
Nowadays, no decision, not a
"no-ball" call for throwing or over-
stepping, or run-outs, can be done
without standard referrals to screens
for verification; technological aids
programmed, ironically, by humans.
How the hell do we know that
these humanly-programed elements
are correct anyway?
But if that is the case, why are
there any umpires on the field at
all, except that they are there to
simply count six balls?
The time is long gone, like the
demise of the dinosaurs, when
umpires like Sang Hue would ever
reign again. Now, we use umpiring
technology mostly for entertain-
ment purposes. Enjoy!
Allow cricket umpires to take charge of the field again
COLIN EH CROFT
Links Archive August 30th 2014 September 1st 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page