Time and again the cricket public has watched in horror TV replays showing a ground umpire's decision upholding or dismissing an appeal against a batsman, to be in grave error. But the hardest thing has been to see a manifest injustice on TV replays, and then to note in disbelief that the technology which detected the umpire's error was not being used to correct the error. Patently wrong umpiring decisions are allowed to stand because of the absence of a mechanism in the laws of cricket to overturn them.
In the judicial system, a dissatisfied litigant has a right of appeal against a decision of a judge, to a higher court or a full bench. Likewise a similar principle of appeal should find expression in cricket rules and allow a dissatisfied captain of a team to appeal against a ground umpire's decision, to the third umpire. Greater justice in umpiring decisions is now secured because of the participation of the third umpire, upon a request of a ground umpire, in determining appeals for run outs and stumpings. This process should be extended further with the third umpire being required to perform an appellate role in respect of doubtful catches behind or in front of the wicket, and run outs and stumpings (which are not referred to the third umpire by a ground umpire).
Any objection that a two tier appeal process would unduly protract or de-stabilise the game, can be met by restricting the number of appeals against the ground umpires' decisions, to five per each side per each innings. This way, some of the bad ground umpiring decisions, particularly in respect of appeals for 'caught behind the wicket', could be corrected.
The use of the proposed appeal mechanism may also contribute in some way towards containing the unnecessary tension which flares from time to time between cricket playing nations, because of poor umpiring decisions.
With reference to the news item on page 8 of The Sunday Times of February 23 'Anoma Heads Law Society, I would like to bring to your notice that the news item stating that "For the first time in the history of the Colombo Law Society officials were elected uncontested" is not correct.
In 1988-1989 the following officials were elected uncontested for the first time in the history of the Colombo Law Society:-
C. Palitha Mathew
Now that the local government elections are over when we analyse the figures of the election results, we find that the emergence of a third force namely the Rejected Voters' Party (RVP) which polled about 7.20 percent of votes
Although we have a very high literate rate in the South East region some of us do not know how to cast our votes properly. The most number of rejected votes were registered from the Pradeshiya Sabhas. Remedial measures should be taken to eradicate this problem. It is quite evident that even the candidates of the political parties failed in their duties to enlighten the voters on the correct procedure of voting, very specially in the villages.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris claims that the results of last week's local government elections are a clear manifestation of mass support for a political solution to the current conflict. Mr. Professor, you are in a dreamland when you say that public opinion is overwhelmingly supportive of a political settlement to the crisis.
The learned Professor speaks of a 100 per cent clean sweep in the NCP. Mr. Professor, we remind you of the proverbial statement that there is no one who is so blind as a person who does not want to see.
Are you at least not aware of two polling stations where the number of alleged votes exceeded the number of registered votes. Surely there cannot be a better example than this incident to conclude that the election was rigged.
The many incidents of rigging as according to a newspaper prompted the UNP to canvass the results of the elections. The rigging is historical in that the massive frauds, impersonations, dead men voting, registered voters abroad voting are not heard of to this magnitude in any election held in Sri Lanka so far.
The only thing that Prof. Peiris has failed to say is that the PA has done better in rigging than what happened during the last 17 years which is the panacea for all ills of this Government.
Mr. Professor, please read page 6 of 'Divaina' of 24 th March which gives a graphic news item of Abeyratne Banda Ratnayake's statement on his resignation after victory at the Laggala Pallegama Pradeshiya Sabha. He boldly says that with the knowledge of the local leadership all kinds of irregularities were perpetrated. Mr. Ratnayake has been the Vice-Chairman of the last Laggala Pallegama Pradeshiya Sabha and he has got 1328 preferences this time.
He further alleges that with the knowledge of the local leadership the corrupt and irregular acts are due to the war for preferences and unsuitable candidates got elected and the suitables were cornered. Mr. Ratnayake's laudable act is to show his protest against the rigging.
Now Mr. Professor, if you still claim the so-called mass support for political solution to the ethnic conflict by a fraudulent and irregular election which is unparalleled in our history where rigging is concerned you may continue to imagine so, but a right-thinking voter will never accept a proposition of this nature.
We shall in due course deal with your draft Constitution which is an insult to intelligence.
Sri Lanka's 0-2 Test debacle in New Zealand is another indicator that all is not well with the country's cricket team and administration despite our status as the world's one day champions. Exactly one year after Sri Lanka achieved that pinnacle in Lahore, we were humiliated by a far less experienced side which is unofficially ranked only ahead of Zimbabwe, the wooden spoonists of Test cricket, twice inside four days.
While one should not deny credit to New Zealand for their new found professionalism, there were some glaring errors in Sri Lanka's performance. Especially in the light of Sri Lanka's declared goal of becoming the best Test team by the year 2000, these errors have puzzled cricket fans and challenged the Cricket Board's seriousness about achieving that ambition.
Some have sought to cover-up these errors by highlighting the lack of match practice, cold weather and unfair umpiring among other factors contributing to the New Zealand debacle. Out of these, only the latter really had anything to do with the defeats; the Cricket Board needs to take up this issue with vigour, including video-taped evidence of the decisions in question, at the next ICC meeting. In fairness to the cricket-loving public it is imperative that a rigorous and thorough analysis of this debacle be carried out. Equally, there is an urgent need to infuse some fresh thinking into the captaincy, management and administration of Sri Lanka cricket if our national pride is to be restored on the forth coming tour of the West Indies.
Lacklustre captaincy was a significant factor that led to our dismal performances. Arjuna Ranatunga seemed to have lost his flair and tactical acumen for which he has been praised no end. He seemed unable to motivate his players especially the bowlers when they lost their line and direction at crucial stages. It appears that the captain is unable to command the respect of all his subordinates. Reportedly, some of his decisions were arbitrary. Chaminda Vaas, the spearhead of our pace attack, was underbowled at Hamilton for reasons other than merit and form. The delay in bringing on Vaas to end the Kiwi last wicket stand in the second innings seemed conspicuous. As happened in Sharjah, arbitrary decision-making seemed to have taken its toll on team morale and performance. The captain himself failed to bat responsibly and lead by example. Even when he appeared to get his act together in the second innings at Hamilton, Ranatunga's concentration lapsed when he played against the line and was caught in the deep.
An equally important factor that contributed to Sri Lanka's humiliation was the lack of temperament and application shown by the frontline batsmen to stay at the wicket. This is one area in which all our batsmen, be they at Test, Sri Lanka A or Under - 19 levels, have shown considerable inaptitude. It was only the other day that the visiting Indian U-19 Team Coach and ex-Test opener, Anshuman Gaekwad, commented on the impatience of our U-19 batsmen to play their shots and force the pace without first playing themselves in for a long innings. Apparently coach Yardley had offered considerable advice to our Test batsmen in this aspect prior to the tour as was revealed during a radio interview. Yet amazingly, they sought to play extravagant shots right from the start even without proper match practice. As one Kiwi paper rightly commented: the Sri Lankans wanted to bat like millionaires, but they did not have any practice runs in the bank, and paid the price with careless work. "Undoubtedly the overemphasis on the one day game in our international programme and the structure of our domestic tournaments have contributed to our batsmens' failures at Test level.
It is sad that Bruce Yardley's assignment as National Coach has got off to an inauspicious start. There are some pertinent questions that the cricket-loving public can raise with regard to the role of the coach: how much weight does Yardley's advice carry on such issues as physical fitness, team selection, reading wickets, batting and bowling strategies, etc.?; is the apparently "know-all" attitude of some senior team members undermining the coach's authority?; is the Cricket Board planning to get a report on the tour from the coach in addition to that of the Tour Manager? What type of rapport does the Coach and Manager have?
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