Defending Steve Bucknor

The Cricket Watcher’s Journal has a nasty post on Steve Bucknor, who has made some comments about his expulsion from the India-Australia Test series. I’ve defended Bucknor before, so I’ll do it again (if only because no one else will).

I’m not sure why TCWJ is so enraged, as Bucknor makes some more than reasonable claims: first, he thinks the BCCI may be disproportionately powerful because of its financial clout. Check. Then, he says his bad decisions — and he agrees that they were bad, which, as an umpire, he isn’t compelled to admit publicly — formed only a small minority of the decisions he had to make in the game. Check again. What’s the big deal?

TCWJ writes:

But when he goes on to say “So I was expecting these things to happen because on Earth … there are some people who are more equal than others. Because they are more equal, they seem to have more say. And what they say, especially influenced by money, they seem to have their way. So I’m not too surprised” – you wonder perhaps it hasn’t registered to him that he has consistently given poor decisions against India.

Again, I find this all puzzling. Has Bucknor really gone consistently against India? What was he thinking, then, when he allowed Sreesanth off the hook in the final overs of the Lord’s Test between India and England (which saved the game for India and helped them take the series)? 

It’s also strange that TWCJ accuses Bucknor of playing “the race card” before suggesting that Bucknor might supposedly rule against India because of “his strong feelings about some people on this Earth.” That’s playing the race card too, no?

I realize the India-Australia series still rankles, and believe me, I think a lot about it as well. If only we had drawn that Test, we would not have lost the series. Still, it was a fantastic game and Bucknor’s mistakes only made the match more compelling. That may not sound fair — India did lose, after all — but in retrospect, the fallible umpire-figure is a crucial part of cricket and, in this case at least, it helped produce a much more compelling narrative.

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