Earlier, umpires called chuckers
by R.L. Fernando
Talking of sports, cricket has its umpires, hockey its umpires, basketball its umpires, netball its umpires, soccer its referees, teams its judges, athletics its judges, golf its judges etc.
Commentators praise umpires
Several former top cricket commentators in the calibre of John Arlott, Rex Alston, Alan MacGvilray E. W. (Jim) Swanton, Trevor Bailey, Freddie Brown, Charles Fortune and Brian Johnston were all full of praise for cricket umpires especially at a time when there were no Match Referees, Standby Umpire, T.V. Umpires or even TV screens to assist them in anyway. Every decision made was by the duo who stood in the middle and at no stage was any decision challenged by anyone or even cricket pandits. Then, umpiring was a difficult task and every one of them brimmed with immense confidence and in the end it was a job well done irrespective of who won or lost or even if the match was a no-decision.
Umpiring a thankless job today
In comparison, today, cricket umpiring happens to be a thankless job with the maximum pressure exerted on the duo in the middle. Today there is the Third Umpire, T.V. Umpire and Referee and many are of the impression that all the additional facilities simply don’t serve the purpose and have been introduced to make the sport a big joke. Also above all, every TV viewer tries to be a cricket umpire without even knowing the umpiring laws from a crow. They openly criticize the two umpires in the middle and call them by various types of names. Is that fair by qualified personnel?. As a result, cricket umpiring and even the sport is only being brought to disrepute.
The umpiring laws amount to 42 in addition to all its amendments. However, there are certain laws which concern the duo of umpires most as they require additional vigilance and concentration. The laws are (a) No Ball (b) LBW (c) Caught At The Wicket and (d) No balling. A chucker and (e) Stumping.
NO BALL: The bowler on his delivery stride must have his feet inside the return crease (not cutting it) and also inside the batting crease. The front foot aiming at the batting crease could cut it but not go completely over it for it to be a fair delivery. However, at the time the foot goes over the batting crease if by any chance a boot lace gets loose and is found behind the batting crease, then it is not a no ball.
LBW: Today’s laws on this rule by drawing an imaginary carpet in the centre of the pitch looks absurd, as the head umpire should be totally empowered to make the decision whether out or not out. For a batsman to be ruled out the ball should pitch within a space of 9 inches (which is the width of the 3 wickets) not strike the batsman’s bat or gloves and it should hit the batsman’s pads in height of the stumps. The head umpire will also have to judge the angle of the ball (even if it hit the batsman’s pads in line with the stumps) before making his decision. A ball pitched outside the off stump and coming into the stumps could at times get a positive result. But in no way will a ball pitched outside the leg stump get a positive result.
CAUGHT AT THE WICKET: Today with the present day bats and pads both lined with steel, the sound of the ball striking any one of them will definitely sound the same. As a result the head umpire will have to be very mindful of what the sound is all about before making his decision. A batsman caught by the keeper after the ball has gone off the edge of the bat is clearly seen. But even then, the umpire will have to be guided by the sound and also the deflection of the ball. In the meantime, the bat/pad catch will be difficult to judge and even then the umpire will have to be 100% certain before making his decision either way.
STUMPING: A batsman shall be ruled out stumped if he had missed the ball and the wickets were dislodged by the keeper (with the bails on) with the batsman out of his crease. But if for some reason one of the batsman’s boot laces had loosened and part of it was over the batting crease, then the decision should be ‘not out’.
No ball by keeper
The keeper can also assist in a noball (even if the bowler is legal in his delivery) if he keeps his gloves in front of the wicket when the ball is delivered. The leg umpire shall call ‘no ball’ then. At all times the keeper must have his gloves behind the wicket at the time the ball is delivered.
No balling a chucker
Now we come to the most difficult decision for an umpire to make (ie) No balling a bowler for chucking. — Law 24 which deals with the ‘No Ball’ clearly states in its clause 2 that for a delivery to be fair the ball must be bowled and not thrown. If either umpire is not entirely satisfied with the absolute fairness of a delivery in this respect, he shall call and signal ‘no ball’ instantly upon delivery. What Is It To Chuck: A ball shall be deemed to have been thrown if in the opinion of either umpires, the process of straightening the bowling arm whether it be partial or complete, takes place during that part of the delivery swing which directly precedes the ball leaving the bowler’s hand. However, this definition shall not debar a bowler from using his wrist in the delivery swing.
Many bowlers ‘called’
Under the above rule, many cricketers around the world have been penalised whether they be Test, International, Domestic or school. The description of the law is simple and easily understood.
In the distant past Test bowlers Ian Meckiff (Australia) and C. Griffin (South Africa) were ‘called for chucking’ and without any explanation or fuss out they went from the cricket arena. But what is today? Despite the development of the game with sophisticated electronic facilities and the cricket controlling body the ICC being vested with superior powers, such offenders have got away scot free from all their blemishes and are still operating regardless. In recent times when bowlers (whether of renown or otherwise) were penalised for such an offence the teams concerned made a hue and cry about it and by that only put pressure on the umpire concerned. Reference was then made to the ICC for its ruling and very often the ICC had viewed it in a lenient manner and permitted the offender to continue in operation. In comparison, such an offender in the distant past was simply doomed. If that was so then, why isn’t it today also?
Is there political pressure?
Despite international cricket being in all its pomp and glory at present, why does the ICC pamper or show mercy on offenders found guilty of chucking? Is it because politics has crept into the sport or is it being done to satisfy a select lot of individuals serving in high esteem and also to curry favour with anyone.
Years ago, the umpires were not pressurised in the least as they openly called any bowler who was guilty of chucking. But today, umpires are frightened to call a’ chucker openly and instead report him for necessary action to the higher authorities concerned, thus showing that they don’t shoulder their responsibilities as desired. And the outcome is the accused is discharged.
One should remember that calling a bowler for ‘chucking’ is entirely the responsibility of the two umpires officiating in mid field and no one else’s. An umpire will call a ‘chucker only if in his opinion the bowler was unfair in his delivery. Also, if such an umpire is questioned about it, his reply will be ‘That’s How I Saw It’.
Finally, remember that such an umpire’s decision can’t be
challenged by anyone or even a Court of Law.
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