Sunday, April 29, 2007

World Class Farce

I cannot believe what a complete and utter cock up the umpires and the ICC have made of the World Cup Cricket final between Australia and Sri Lanka.

During the Sri Lankan innings it started raining, this rain then got progressively heavier, yet the umpires didn't make a decision to leave as they could see a clearer patch of sky beyond the clouds. This was a sensible decision - Sri Lanka needed to keep playing to ensure they had a chance to win, had they gone off then, there would have been too many overs lost, along with any chance of Sri Lanka being able to win.

So, as the rain started to ease, the umpires decided to send the teams off the field. Why, I guess, no sane person will ever be able to understand. Aleem Dar and Steve Bucknor had just made the most stupid decision (probably) ever in cricketing history.

Then, when they decided to bring the teams back on, they failed to calculate the new target. Sure, they could work out that 2 overs were lost and correctly subtracted 2 from 38 to get 36, but they couldn't work out how to use the Duckworth Lewis system to calculate the new target and a few balls later, both teams stopped the match to enquire about the new target. Failing to have this corrected, the teams started playing again whilst waiting for the farce to end, which it eventually did.

Or so we thought.

Now, as the light was fading due to the ridiculous waste of time that the umpires caused by the stoppages, the umpires offered the light to the Sri Lankan batsmen on a number of occasions, which they finally took 3 overs before the end of the match. With absolutely no chance of Sri Lanka being able to win and with absolutely no chance of the light improving (as the WCC final ground dows not have lights), everyone had figured - the ground officials included - that Australia had just won the World Cup. Of course, Aleem Dar then chose to point out to Ricky Ponting that this was not the end of the match and that they would need to come back tomorrow to bowl the three remaining overs. The ground staff at this point had already congratulated Australia on the scoreboard and were preparing to set up for the presentations, yet the umpires shooed them off the field, explaining that the match wasn't over.

Mahela Jayawardene then came onto the ground and discussed the options with Ricky Ponting and, instead of making the most obvious decision there was - conceding defeat - he chose to send his batsmen back out to face the final three overs.

At this point, the commentators couldn't distinguish between players on the field. The batsmen had to face spin bowlers for safety - pace bowlers would have been deadly. The cameras couldn't easily focus on the players for the lack of light. Basically, the game should have been over when the players took the offer of bad light.

Despite the "look" on the broadcast, the light was appalling. The cameras and CCU operators were able to enhance the light way beyond was actually available. The true state of affairs, and the true view of what a farce the umpires made of this match, was seen when Stump Cam was shown - there's no way to artificially enhance the image from Stump Cam in the same way as the regular broadcast cameras. It was close to total darkness. Even the enhanced camera images were significantly grainy due to the enhancement artifacts. This was something that never should have been allowed to go on.

The umpires made appalling decisions. The ICC allowed them to do it. Jayawardene had a clear opportunity to stop the stupidity and chose not to do so. The whole thing showed the world how far away from being able to make Cricket a world game the governing body is. It is a shame, but hopefully the ICC will learn from this and take steps to ensure some form of sanity creeps into the rules and the interpretation of the rules.


The Outspoken Wookie

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