the wrong 'un

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Strop Stops Play

So, it took until the fourth day of the fourth Test for the standard England/Pakistan rumpus to emerge.

Whatever the Umpires saw to make their decision about the tampered ball (and as yet we have not been told what that is) they clearly did not exceed their powers by changing the ball and awarding the penalty runs. And even if the Pakistan team felt they had a grievance, they clearly infringed the relevant Law by refusing to take the field after the tea interval. So, if the Umpires took the decision to award the game to England, as it appeared to the TV viewer (and again, at this time we have not heard the exact chronology of events), they were again acting correctly according to the Laws and playing regulations.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the estimable Mr Ward, I should explain why it is important that rules are adhered to, and must be seen to be being adhered to. When decisions in sport are left to referees and umpires to decide according to Common Sense - the regular plaintive cry of the exasperated commentator or talk-show phoner in - the actual decisions taken will vary dramatically depending on whose sense, common or otherwise, is being used. Therefore, the recent trend in many sports and pastimes has been to attempt to set down in the regulations as many eventualities as can possibly been forseen, to make it easier on the officials by reducing grey areas.

So if the Umpires did indeed award the match to England, and did follow the procedure as set down, it would in my opinion be a great folly to overturn that decision. It would undermine all Umpires in the future, by showing them that their decisions are subject to potential veto by and aggrieved team, it would encourage teams to dispute more decisions (if possible), and it would tear a gaping hole in the Laws of the Game, a hole that would not easily be repaired.


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