Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Kangaroo dawdle

The topic of controversial umpiring decisions has always held centre stage in cricket and the much dreaded ‘Pakistani umpires’ of the 70s and 80s have now given way to the even more dreaded pro-Aussie umpires of the 2000s.

Let us trace the beginning of the so called invincibility of the Aussies. It basically started with Steve Waugh’s proclamation after the 1997 World Cup and was buttressed by their exploits against all the major cricketing sides in the world after that. Gradually the ‘Caribbean Calypso’ was replaced by the ‘Kangaroo dawdle’ and the World went yellow acknowledging the tactical, physical and logistical prowess of the Aussies.

However, it wasn’t as simple as all that. There was also a concerted effort behind the scenes to intimidate the umpires as well in favor of the Aussies. Key batsmen of the opposition routinely fell to doubtful decisions. Arrogant Aussie umpires like Darrell Hair took on Asian Superstars like Muralitharan and got away with it. The underlying message was simple. Its either the Aussie way or the highway. Seasoned umpires like Venkatraghavan and Steve Bucknor buckled under pressure. Remember the Semi final between Windies and Australia which was also Ritchie Richardson’s last international match. Four doubtful LBWs were given by Venkat in that match to Warne and the Aussies won a match that they should have lost. Subsequently as a reward Venkat was a regular as a neutral umpire in almost every series down under. Umpires like David Shepherd, an Englishman who resisted Aussie pressure tactics were quite easily shunted out. Read the rest of this fascinating post by Yogesh Saigal.