A white ’ooman name Miss Black, a black ’ooman name Miss White, a red ooman name Miss Green is the funniest ting I’ve seen. A narrow-minded referee name Chris Broad…
The calypsonian did not actually sing those lines half-a-century or so ago. But if, like me, he has followed the ongoing Champions Trophy tournament in England closely and he were updating his lyrics today, he might be tempted so to do.
Having spent a part of my Sunday watching England beat New Zealand by 10 runs, I feel constrained, morally bound to return to the subject of the Denesh Ramdin dropped catch. It is not that I give much credence to the rumour repeated to me that the West Indian Cricket Board has made—or is planning to make—a request to the ICC. Please do not allow Mr Chris Broad, I am asked to believe the request runs, to act as the match referee in any game involving the regional team.
The former England opener, the claim runs, was the man responsible for an “unjust” one-Test or two ODI’s ban on Suleiman Benn after the Australia vs WI Third Test in Perth in 2009. That injustice, the spokespersons say, was repeated in the Ramdin case last week.
I do, however, have reason to be less unsympathetic to the “conspiracy theorists.” I scoured the newspapers and the Internet in the wake of the match; I could find little mention of an incident which, it seems to me, is remarkably similar to what happened with Ramdin when he dropped a catch off Misbah-ul-Haq in the West Indies’ first Group B game against Pakistan at the Kennington Oval on the Friday of the first week.
Reported by the on-field umpires and their TV colleague for action that was “contrary to the spirit of the game,” Ramdin, remember, was hit with the maximum sanction of his entire match fee and a two-match ban.
Not so England stumper Jos Buttler. As far as I can make out his behaviour wasn’t even considered worthy of the match referee’s attention. You be the judge.
Chasing a challenging 170 off 24 overs for victory and qualification for the semis, the Kiwis saw the asking rate get up very high halfway through the innings. They contrived to pull it back with some lusty hitting in a partnership worth 73 off 45 balls between the sixth wicket pair of Kane Williamson (67 off 54) and Corey Anderson (30 off 24).
They might well have pulled it off too had the TV Umpire, Australia’s Steve Davis, not controversially ruled that the Stuart Broad—that name again!—ball that dismissed Williamson was not a no-ball. One Cricinfo report says Broad’s “heel was ruled, by the third umpire, to be fractionally behind the line.”
“It was,” the report adds pithily, “a mighty tight call.”
“After several replays,” says another, “the third umpire, Steve Davis, gave Broad the wicket.”
Asked what he thought was the turning point of the match, Line and Length analyst Ricardo Powell agreed (as he almost always does) with host Barry Wilkinson’s suggestion that the game turned irreversibly after James Anderson’s dismissal of openers Luke Ronchi (2 off 12) and Martin Guptill (9 off 12) in the fourth over. True to form, he never raised the issue of the disputed line call. Or, for that matter, any other possibility.
Anyway, to get back to my story, earlier in the innings, at the start of the 18th over, bowled by Ravi Bopara, NZ still needed a challenging 74 off the last 39 balls. That was when the ball ricocheted off wicketkeeper Buttler’s gloves and knocked the off bail to the ground in front of the stumps. Buttler alone appealed for a dismissal.
Stumped? Hardly! The batsman’s back foot had all the time been anchored in the crease. Bowled? Well, let’s check with Davis, say fellow Australians Bruce Oxenford and Rod Tucker, the on-field umpires.
It required a single look at the video to determine the verdict. Not out.
Nothing in any reports I have seen suggests that any of the three Australians subsequently felt compelled to refer Buttler to the match referee, Zimbabwe’s AJ Pycroft, for “conduct contrary to the spirit of the game” under Article 2.2.11 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players.
After the South Africa game, skipper Bravo told the media that he felt “it would have been fair if that extra ball had been bowled.”
“I am not disappointed,” he added diplomatically, “with what the umpires did.”
Okay. Cool. But here’s my question (and I have only a question; you supply your answer): Had England or India been in the exact same situation as Bravo’s team, would the umpires have permitted that extra ball to be bowled?
Here are two other germane questions: Do the officials have it in for Ramdin? For the West Indies? My answer? I honestly don’t think so. I pour scorn on the idea that an India vs England final is pre-ordained; I reject any suggestion that things have been fixed.
But if, as expected, India win the June 23 Edgbaston final and the decision to make this the last edition of the Champions Trophy is reversed, well… Particularly if the next edition is held, you guessed it, in India!
But Champions Trophy or no Champions Trophy, I don’t think the Trinidadian wicketkeeper—or, for that matter, any of the regional players—need worry too much about the future. Ah mean, certainly not ‘dose who has a half-decent English tongue in dere head and could insure dat de colour of dere verbs are not green.’
When, for whatever reason, their playing days are over and they have just over 100 or so ODI’s to their credit, they need merely let it be known that they, like Jeff Dujon, Ian Bishop, Michael Holding and a few other considerably lesser lights, are interested in a career as an analyst.
After what we’ve been offered as Champions Trophy fare over the last two weeks, if they are consistent, ah mean, on what grounds can the Line and Length principals turn them down?