Category Archives: Steve Bucknor

Umpire Referral Reform

I’m glad the 2009 Ashes will not feature absurd third umpire-delays or gratuitous appeals no one thinks will be sustained. The problem of reconciling technology with tradition, however, refuses to go away in cricket and I wanted to take a brief stab at it here.

First, a primer on third umpire referrals. Regular readers know I’m a traditionalist when it comes to this problem. I don’t think technology is an elixir that will immediately remove all erroneous umpire decisions and, quite frankly, even it were, I still wouldn’t support its use because I like the fallible-but-sovereign umpire figure. Yes, umpires change the course of the game, but while some think that’s unfair, I believe it’s in line with the spirit of cricket, which relies far more on chance and luck than other games (as Ashis Nandy argues in his brilliant book, The Tao of Cricket).

But compromises must be made, if only to avoid more Sydney affairs and irate fans. Continue reading


Hobbes, Hypocrisy, and Michael Vaughan

England’s former captain Michael Vaughan recently opened up about the doubts he suffered in the final stages of his captaincy tenure. The crucial bit in the interview for me was this:

He reflected that often had to put up a front. “A lot of captaincy is about acting: you want your team-mates to play naturally and be themselves, but the captain has to act. Your job is to lead with a calm authority. On that Sunday morning at Edgbaston in 2005, when we won the second Test against Australia by two runs, I was unbelievably stressed. I was flapping like hell inside, but couldn’t show it … The players in my last year as captain didn’t know I was struggling – and that is one of the things I will always be proudest of.”

We’ve known about this aspect of successful captains for a while now. Witness the endless tributes to M.S. Dhoni’s zen-like calm, which contrasted with Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid’s nervous reigns during the Indian Premier League.

Vaughan’s comments — particularly the gorgeous line, “a lot of the captaincy is about acting” — recall Chapter 16 in Thomas Hobbes’ The Leviathan, in which Hobbes argues that a true sovereign must put on a “mask” when he represents others. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Against Instant Replay: A Paean To The Umpire

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a moderate traditionalist when it comes to the technology debate in the game. There are a few reasons for that, not least that I couldn’t buy into the collective rage that descended India during the Sydney Test fiasco (a.k.a. “Bucknor-Gate”). 

There are other factors involved too, of course: Continue reading

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Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Barely a week goes by in the cricket world and already my humble blog is ancient news. Shaun Tait declares himself depressed; Scott Styris realizes that cricket in New Zealand is a national myth; Adam Gilchrist calls its quits (ironically, so that he can make even more money in “retirement”), Harbhajan Singh gets a waiver at the house of justice, and India dump their all-star Test lineup for a bunch of novices barely out of school.

I’ll have to address all those things at some point, but the biggest news for me is that this IPL venture might actually take place. Economics and math have never been my strong subjects, and goodness knows how badly I fared during interviews with consulting firms last year, but how on earth did the BCCI make nearly a billion dollars doing absolutely nothing? Continue reading

Crying for Bucknor/The Umpire as Tragic Figure

The Sydney crisis is crawling towards a face-saving resolution, and the first steps were taken today: against the standard rules and procedures, the ICC has replaced Steve Bucknor for the remainder of the series with Billy Bowden (one of the umpires, incidentally, who received a suspension after the World Cup final disaster).

Here’s why I think this is a bad move. Continue reading