14th February 1999
Editorial/Opinion| Business| Plus |
By L.J.M. Cooray,(LLB (Cey), PHD (Cambridge), PHD (Colombo)
He writes what follows with a specialist knowledge of law, media and politics and also cricket and a love of cricket.
The failures of the Sri Lankan cricket authorities have adversely affected the nation, Muttiah Muralitharan and the cricketers. This is a review of the past and a suggestion for action in the present.
Their attitude to the Australian Cricket Board has been one of servility and fear of offending. There are traces of the colonial mentality of bowing the knee to the white master. There is a fear of offending. The standard argument is that they must act diplomatically.
Diplomacy will take the Sri Lankan gentlemen nowhere. On the previous tour diplomacy was tried and failed miserably.
The only thing that worked was a show of strength in asking for damages for not playing the World Cup match in Colombo. The threat of possible damages to pay for not coming to Sri Lanka was the only reason why the Australians visited Sri Lanka for a series of one day matches. As a consequence the ACB were not pressured to the legal damages they should have paid. The ACB won a notable victory. The damages claim should have been proceeded with. There could have been a compromise and a settlement for a lower figure. Toughness is the language the ACB understands.
They treated the Sri Lankan cricketers shamelessly last time. They are doing the same again. The reason is because of the cowering attitude of the Sri Lankan cricket authorities.
The Sri Lankan authorities are trying to behave diplomatically. The problem is that they are not dealing with diplomats. They are not dealing with gentlemen. They are dealing with a Board whose machinations have been exposed over the suppression of the offence committed by Warne and Waugh. The news was made public only at a time when it could not be kept secret.
The complete lack of moral fibre in the ACB was demonstrated by the appointment of Warne and M. Waugh as Captain and Vice-Captain only weeks after their transgressions became public. The fact that it was done weeks after the matter became public was clear condoning of the actions of the two players.
A Sri Lankan batsman was called a "black monkey" by an Australian bowler on the previous tour. The matter was hushed up by the Australian Cricket Board, who pressurised the Sri Lankans. How many more skeletons are there in the ACB cupboard which have been hidden? If the matter had been made public, there would have been a reaction from all sections of the Australian community. Much sympathy would have been generated towards the Sri Lankans.
If this comment had been made about a Pakistani or West Indian cricketer there would have been an uproar. The Australian media and politicians to their credit always take a stand against racist comments.
On the tour previous to the last Henry Bloefeld wrote in The Australian that the language used by an Australian Test cricketer to a Sri Lankan player had made his hair stand on end.
Arjuna Ranatunga and the Sri Lankan cricketers have earned a bad name in Australia for refusing to shake hands with the Australian cricketers after a one-day match. The media has been very critical. The whole picture would have been different if the Australian media and public had known the truth about the "black monkey" type abuse and the psychological warfare and standover tactics adopted by the Australian cricketers.
Public knowledge by media and public at the time about the black monkey incident would have by itself been sufficient to turn the tide of public opinion against the Australians and in favour of the Sri Lankan cricketers.
Why were the black monkey and other incidents hushed up? The Australian Cricket Board exerted pressure, and the Sri Lankan authorities meekly bowed their knees. My understanding is that the decision to bow down to the ACB was made by the Sri Lanka Cricket authorities, advised by Sri Lankan diplomats. This understanding is based on discussion with a high ranking member of the Sri Lankan diplomatic corps (now retired).
The ACB does not make decisions in consultation with the Australian Foreign Office. The ACB acts in consultation with the players and in their interests. The players have a trade union and a full time employee (Tim May) to represent them.
By comparison the interests and reputation of the players and also the name of Sri Lanka was tarnishd by diplomatic considerations. It was a situation in which diplomatic considerations were irrelevant.
For Australians today cricket involves psychological warfare on the playing field and also off it. This has to be met. I do not suggest that Sri Lankans stoop to the same levels as the Australians. But they need to publicise the facts of what is happening. The ACB must not be allowed to pressurise and suppress unpleasant truths. The truth about the black monkey allegation is one which many fair minded Australians would want to know. The Pakistanis or the the Windies would never have agreed to such a blatant cover up.
The finding by the Match Referee and the umpires that a Sri Lankan cricketer was guilty of ball tampering on the previous tour was rejected by the ICC. But the vindication was not widely publicised. Here again the ACB managed to hush the matter up. The motive was to protect the reputation of the umpires who made a wrong decision. The Sri Lankan authorities meekly consented. The reputation of the Sri Lankan cricketers was tarnished as a consequence.
Most Australians think the Sri Lankans were guilty of ball tampering. There should have been a statement issued by the Sri Lankan authorities publicising the innocence of the cricketers. A detailed statement of facts should have been issued.
Sir Donald Bradman in a TV interview with Ray Martin made shortly after the last Sri Lankan tour made clear his views about sledging and verbal abuse. He is a very quiet and gentle man who makes no direct criticisms. He stated unequivocally that sledging was in no circumstances acceptable. His words carried a very strong disapproval of the tactic of Australian cricketers.
Before the present tour started I tried unsuccessfully to contact officials of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board and present a proposal. There was no response to telephone messages and a written communication. The response given to a third party by a Sri Lankan cricket official was: "We know what we are doing. We do not want anyone else doing anything".
Before the tour started I wrote to certain members of the cricket hierachy in the following terms.
"Darrell Hair's book has received wide publicity in the Australian media. The ICC has been castigated for its principled position about Muralitharan's action. The ICC is treated as a bully interfering with an umpire following a principled course of action.
"The question which arises is why the various reports with technical and scientific facts and conclusions which cleared Murali's action are not freely accessible and available. If they are available on a web-site on the internet radio and TV commentators and all journalists of newspapers may be challenged to refer the facts.
"As things stand journalists who have not had access to the full facts, in various reports make false and defamatory statements.
"If the criticism continues when the Sri Lankan cricketers are playing in Australia, it will be a factor which will adversely affect the whole team. It will affect the peace of mind of all the players before and during matches.
"A course of action is available which will effectively dry up all comment and criticism about Murali's action.
"The proposal is that a web-site on the internet be opened which contains all the reports with facts, technical and scientific information and conclusions which cleared Murali's action.
"This should be followed by a letter written by Murali's solicitor to the radio and TV stations and the sports editors of newspapers pointing out that information and facts are available on the internet about the fairness and validity of Murali's bowling action. This letter should contain a clear warning that a defamation action may be lodged against anyone who disregards the facts and information in the reports.
"What is on the web-site must state the truth and facts in a fair and balanced manner, without provocative statements.
"A similar letter should be sent to the Letters Editors of each of the major newspapers addressed to readers asking them to read the information on the web-site. They should be warned that a defamation action will be instituted against those who ignore the facts.
"The Sri Lanka Cricket Board has made representations to the ICC and the ACB. But it is foolish to stop there. The Australian media must be fed with the facts and lobbied. The Sri Lanka Cricket Board must not ignore the media and the fair minded Australian community. They must go beyond diplomatic action and officialdom. They failed to do this on the previous tour. They must not make the same mistake again. The web-site suggested above, widely advertised, is a means of communication. It will also enable Sri Lankan members in Australia to write to the newspapers and the ACB. These letters will be influential, especially if they are numerous.
"Prior to the commencement of the tour the reference to the web-site with a short summary of what is on it may be distributed to sport journalists in Australia."
I did not have any response to my written representations. Telephone calls were not answered.
I understand that the Sri Lankan cricket authorities took two steps. These steps cost money. But obviously what action was taken made no difference. The most important weapon, threat of legal action was not used.
The Sri Lanka cricket authorities retained the services of a high level legal firm in Melbourne. The firm consists of Australians. They have no heart nor concern for Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan cricket or Muralitharan. They are part of the Melbourne establishment and so are the members of the ACB.
They appointed a public relations firm to project an image. It is not clear whether this firm had any expertise in dealing with media.
The suggestion I made was based on specialised knowledge of cricket law, media and politics and also a love and concern for Sri Lankan cricket and Muralitharan.
Even now it is not too late to threaten legal action. A cricketer's entire career is at stake. A court of law will proceed on the basis of evidence.
There are four reports from unimpeachable sources based on video replays, medical facts and scientific and technical evidence. These establish clearly that Muttiah Muralitharan's action is fair. A court of law will proceed on the basis of this evidence. This is the most powerful weapon available.
The Sri Lankan cricket authorities acting on behalf of Muralitharan should at the very least publicly threaten to sue Hair, Emerson, his employer the Australian Cricket Board and any reporter or commentator who queries Muralitharan's action. They should have done so earlier. They did not not do so, for the sake of the game of cricket. They made a disastrous error. Cricket used to be a gentlemen's game in Australia - but no longer.
The ACB when it appointed Emerson knew of his record of no-balling Muralitharan. It was a deliberate act to support Hair. It clearly shows their devious and dirty methods. They have shown contempt for the ICC. They have effectively deceived the Sri Lankan cricket authorities who blithely hoped for the best.
How can the Sri Lankan cricketers concentrate on their game when umpires refuse to accept scientific, technical and medical evidence?
The Sri Lankan authorities must abandon diplomacy. They must stand up to those who run the game in Australia.
Arjuna Ranatunga should not have questioned and threatened umpires.
But this was under pressure as a consequence of the failure of Sri Lankan
cricket authorities to take a tough, firm and principled stand. Diplomatic
type action failed miserably. It was not a situation for diplomacy. It
led to Arjuna Ranatunga's counter-productive actions.
England will play five Tests against South Africa and take part in a triangular tournament along with Zimbabwe during their winter tour later this year.
The five Tests will be followed by the triangular where the 3 teams will play each other thrice before the final.
After the triangular tournament England will play four more one dayers against Zimbabwe in Harare. (MF)
New format for County Championship
England's County Championship will have a new format from next year when the championship will be played in two divisions.
The top nine Counties this year will play in the top division next year while the remaining counties will compete in the bottom division. In the ensuing years three teams will be promoted and relegated making the championship competitive.
Each County will play at home and away against at the Counties within the division. (MF)
Kalis for Glamorgan
South Africa's Jacques Kalis will be Glamorgan's overseas player this season. Kalis who had a highly successful series against the West Indies will replace Pakistan's Waquar Youis. However the South African allrounder will play only after the conclusion of this year's World Cup. (MF)
Royal and Ladies are champs
Royal retained the Age Group relay title while Ladies College the last year's runner-up won the girls title at the championships conducted by the National Amateur Aquatic Sports Union concluded at the Ananda College Pool.
Royal aggregated 81 points with S. Thomas' second with 72 points while Ananda and St. Joseph's tied for the third place with 53 points each in the championships sponsored by Union Assurance Limited.
Ladies College won the girls title with 84 points with Mahamaya, the last year's champions second with 53 points and Musaeus third with 34 points.
Mr. and Mrs. Ramal Jasinghe were the chief guests.
Lanka take on Pakistan at bridge
The Sri Lankan open bridge team will meet Pakistan in the semi-finals at the 2nd SAARC Bridge Championships held in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Sri Lanka open team comprised, Dr. M.M.J. Keerthisean (Non Playing Captain), K.P. Baskaran, M. Chelliah, Fritz Perera, T. Shanmulingam, Anton Selvanayagam, Dr. Dilanjan Soysa.
The Sri Lanka ladies team will battle it out with Bangladesh for the third place.
The ladies team comprises:
Bandula Senaweera (Non Playing Captain), Mrs. Glory Arasakumar, Mrs. Manel de Niese, Mrs. Kamani de Silva, Mrs. Fainza Macan Markar, Mrs. Cera Fernando, Mrs. Mallika Wijekoon.
Meanwhile, the Individual Bridge championships will be held on Sunday February 21 at the Bridge Federation Headquarters at the Race Course commencing at 9.15 p.m.
All Black Hewitt injured in fall
All Black hooker Norm Hewitt tearfully admitted a drinking problem after an incident in which he cut himself so badly, he needed surgery.
Hewitt bled heavily from gashes in his back and arm after he fell through a glass door of a house in the South Island tourist resort of Queenstown early on Saturday, national media reported.
Hewitt, in town with his Wellington Hurricanes Super 12-side for a pre-season warm up game against Otago, apparently mistook the house for his team's hotel, police said.
He required surgery and was kept in hospital until Sunday afternoon.
Hewitt, his left arm bandaged, told a New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU) news conference that his abuse of alcohol was behind his problems.
"I am extremely grateful to my team-mates and team management who have looked past the incident and made me confront the real issues involved", he said.
"I want to say that I will be making every effort to make up, in some small way, for the hurt and upset that I have caused."
NZRFU chief executive David Moffett said Hewitt had agreed to a penalty, which would remain confidential.
Queenstown police said all damage at the house had been paid for and no charges were expected to be laid.
Hewitt has been kept out of rugby since last year by a knee injury but is a member of the All Black pool for the World Cup later this year. He has been planning to rejoin the Hurricanes, which he captains.
Last year, Hewitt narrowly avoided a reprimand after getting into a fist fight with his England opposite number Richard Cockerill outside a Dunedin pub.
North Korea's woman football player leaves for the United States
A North Korean football player has left Pyongyang for the United States to take part in a game between a women's world team and the United States, officials said.
Kim Sun-Hui, who left Pyongyang on Monday, is one of the 15 players from across the world selected to play in the match against the United States.
It is rare for North Korean athletes to go to the United States as the two countries have no diplomatic ties. "The first world women's football team is composed of the best players of 15 countries including the DPRK (North Korea), China, Russia, Brazil and Germany which will participate in the World Cup games to be held in the United States this year", said Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.
A South Korean football official said it had no players in the world
By Gamini PereraWhen Sri Lanka's handicapped athletes are going great guns at international competitions, this is a story a how a 13-year-old girl from Sunderland, overcame the killer disease cancer through sheer determination.
About a decade ago, the 13-year-old Julie Hunt was at death's door. Julie had come home from school one day complaining of an ache in her leg. Her divorced mother, Joan took Julie for an X-ray. Doctors told her mother that Julie had a 25cm malignant tumour - a cancerous swelling in her right leg and that the cancer was spreading fast in her little body.
The poor little girl was admitted to hospital in her school uniform. But, she didn't even cry. She was so brave about it all.
Doctors at the Sunderland District hospital said Julie would have to have chemotherapy immediately to prevent the cancer from spreading.
As a nurse, Julie's mother, Joan knew of the side effects of this treatment and wept for her daughter. Julie was to have six sessions altogether.
DevastatedJoan, the weeping mother was naturally devastated. She had expected some mild complaint, but never cancer. The brave mother decided from the beginning to tell Julie everything that was happening to her. The disappointed Joan had remembered when Julie had chemotherapy and lay in a hospital bed with no hair or eyebrows and weighed in at just 3 1/2 stone (49 lbs.). The doctors at the Sunderland District Hospital proposed a daunting operation which only held a 30 per cent chance of success. But Dr. Roger Checkitts was willing to give it a try. It was either that or Julie would have died.
The Doctor agreed to go ahead with the operation and Julie began the first of three chemotherapy treatments before the operation.
Drugs fed by dripsThe chemotherapy drugs were fed by drips into Julie's hand and then her veins were cleaned out by means of a salt and water solution. But, Julie unfortunately started having the dreaded side-effects. Her hair fell out in bunches, leaving Julie bald. She had no eye-brows either and her skin had a yellow, sick tinge.
But worst of all was her vomitting. It was making Julie feel ill all the time. She would not eat even a bite. Even the smell of food made Julie sick. Her mother, Joan tried her best to feed Julie with milky drinks, but it was really difficult.
Her mother used to sleep with her ailing daughter at night and Julie would often wake up screaming. She would scream, saying, "Mom, they are going to chop my leg off. Please help me." This was a nightmare, quite literally.
Explained operationThe only way they got through was by helping each other. Joan was brave and Julie was strong. And then came the day when the doctors called them into the hospital to explain the entire operation.
The operation involved cutting off Julie's leg from above the knees to her ankle. Then her foot and ankle would be rejoined to the upper leg. If these two knitted together, the entire operation would be a success.
It was a terrifying experience for Joan. But, Julie was still smiling bravely. Even going into the hospital to have the operation did not quench Julie's cheerfulness.
For nine hours, Julie was in the operating theatre, undergoing the intricate life saving operation. But, the doctors still didn't know whether it was a success when Julie came out of the theatre.
Her mother was waiting outside the theatre, praying for her little daughter's life.
AnxiousWhen Julie regained consciousness, doctors were all around her bedside, anxiously waiting to see if the operation was a success.
They asked her to wiggle her toes, and slowly and painfully, she moved them, one by one.
On the sixth day in hospital, her mother and the doctors had a wonderful surprise. Julie walked towards her mother on crutches.
Joan was extremely happy that she wept with joy. Even though her daughter was still bald and only 3 1/2 stone in weight, she knew that Julie would recover from that moment. This thought was because her daughter had such a fighting spirit.
After the leg operation, Julie had to undergo more painful chemotherapy sessions. A few months later, Julie was back at school and surprising everyone. Joan is still emotional when she thinks about her fighter-daughter's will to live.
Beating menAt the age of thirteen, Julie Hunt had only one leg, yet she was beating able-bodied men and women at the world's toughest adventure sports.
Julie after her successful operation was going water-skiing every summer. The organisers of these meets were kind to her at the beginning by letting Julie have a little go. But, later they were astonished when she surpassed everyone around her and mastered the sport quite easily.
They just couldn't believe how good Julie was with only one leg. And it was the same with other sports, too. Her mother would ring up the organisers and explain that Julie had a false leg and would like to take up swimming or netball. And, they would agree reluctantly, until they would see Julie in action.
Julie had won lots of medals for swimming against able-bodied men. And on the ice-rink, she would land gracefully on the ice again. Julie also rides her brother's bicycle.
Waved happilyJulie Hunt, at thirteen years of age waved happily to spectators as she finished the 44-mile Carlsberg Round London boatrace in the late 1980s. She was tired, but delighted at her success.
With her partner, Mik Chinery and a tiny rubber-dinghy, Julie had taken on teams from the Army and the Navy and had finished 23rd. out of 100-odd entrants.
She had climbed ladders and steep banks with a boat in tow and crawled and run a mile.
Julie, known as action girl showed her skills behind the helms of boats, playing hockey, cycling, swimming, playing netball and water-skiing.
Gold Star AwardIn the eighties, Julie had won a Gold Star Award for her courage after completing a five-mile run for cancer research soon after her own cancer operation.
"I always loved sport and I also love to face a challenge and beat it. The biggest challenge I've had so far was when I was told by the doctors that I would lose my leg. And if doctors hadn't removed my leg I would have died. So, I am glad to be alive and my artificial leg will not stop me from doing anything,'' was what Julie Hunt had told her friends after leaving hospital.
After her operation she lived the life of a tomboy with her mother, Joan and four brothers and sisters. They are all proud of their sister and Mamma Joan is the most delighted by her daughter's remarkable recovery.
FlabbergastedJulie Hunt had left the entire medical profession flabbergasted. Her doctors were pleased when they found that Julie could walk again. The doctors were simply amazed when she dived into a swimming pool. They were utterly dumbfounded when Julie took to the air for some parascending.
Even Julie's teachers never expected her to live. And when she came back to school all the teachers and her friends were thrilled. It was all because she was kicking a ball around again and running about like she did before.
Life was so full of fun for this girl with only one leg. Taking in her favourite sports had kept her occupied and happy.
It was fascinating for all who knew Julie that she had made every second of her life worth living with an immense drawback.
With all those victories after a gruesome operation, Julie Hunt was not just heir apparent.
She was the heiress.
Bernie Wijesekera reporting from the MCGIan Botham, the legendary England allrounder, who was giving comments at the final round preliminary match between Sri Lanka and Australia played at the MCG ( Sunday Feb.7) was interviewed by The Sunday Times.
Look, your seam bowlers are getting battered all over by Adam Gilchrist, with a career best of 154 and a record for Aussie one-day cricket. They are not making use of the pitch. They are weak. Chaminda Vaas, is good, but he bowls in patches, that is not going to help the team's cause. The spinners are doing their part. But at the start of the innings the seamers, must get that vital breakthrough with the new ball. The spinners are not going to help the Lankan team in the forthcoming World Cup in England, on seaming pitches, he added.
Q- What is the remedy?
A- You need a right coach to handle them. That, too by proper planning. Don't you agree that the bowlers that help win matches? You are right.
One has to do lot of hard work and training at the nets and physical strength is an all important ingredient. This is solely chucking among our medium pacers on this tour. The bowling figures will testify to this effect.
In this last match Vaas got bashed for 68 runs picking Lee and Warne in 10 overs. Wickremasinghe 1 for 52 in 8 overs. The duo conceded 120 runs in a total of 311. Injury prone Murali captured 2 wickets in four balls - a rare achievement. But hobbled out before he could complete his fourth over.
The only gleaming spectacle of this match was the explosive opening stand of 145 runs between lefthander Avishka Gunawardena and Kaluwitharne 68 with some intelligent hitting. Avishka, who came in for injured Jayasuriya, gave notice. He batted with composure - with a blend of defence and aggression.
On this controversy plagued-ridden tour - the man, who stood on the burning deck courageously was the tour manager Ranjith Fernando. On that "Black Saturday" - Jan. 23 in Adelaide when "Murali" was called by Emerson some irate Lankans were suggesting that the match be called off amid confusion. Yes, I could call off, then it will be the end of our international cricket. Well, this scribe was at the scene. He performed a successful surgery, defending Arjuna Ranatunga's actions, when the captain stood by his teammate for the unwarranted calling of 'Murali' by Emerson.
Any other official, could have melted under pressure. But Fernando played the role of a 'Good Samaritarian", in the defence of his country's cricketing image and Ranatunga's trail-blazing career. His tact paid dividends. In the end he won the hearts of the media and personalities like Tony Greig, Botham , Peter Roebuck, etc. commended his strategy.
Further on this tour there was discipline. The past was memory. True, the Lankans may have not performed well at the middle, but there was more cricket off the field. Fernando, made it a point that the team adhered to this.
After defeating England in a nail-biting finish the Lankans won in Sydney. The whole team led by Ranatunga, walked in to the English dressing room and shook hands and fellowship prevailed. Even in the final match against Australia at the MCG this was evident. For the record Sri Lanka may have not performed well on this tour, but are sure to make amends to rectify any shortfalls for the future betterment of the game. This tour is not the end to Sri Lanka cricket. On the eve of the departure - "Ranjit, you have done a good job under stress." Thank you for your comments. Don't you think, that no one is a Paragon of Virtue? You are right, Fernando smiled.
Cricket Board, must look into the all important area of getting a proper coach to be in charge of the national squad, probably any expatriate, who will command respect and inculcate the disciplines and further improve the skills, where the players are found wanting.
He should not necessarily be a world class cricketer of the past, but the one who possesses allround skills.
A good example:- Ruchira Perera, a promising young paceman was languishing for a long time. He got a break against England in Perth, when Wickremasinghe was left out. He bowled with fire to dent the top order to pick the wickets of Knight, Steuart and Hussain in quick succession. In the end it was 10-0-5-3 ( 10 no balls 3 wides).
What sort of training did he get. Just picking him to the team is not going to help the lad. What sort of training did he get from the coach? Just like putting a wild horse on the track. In this match; Mr. Extras 29-(61.b. 8 wides 15 n.balls) That means the batting side gets a bonus of 23 runs plus 3.5 extra overs. This is why this scribe from The Sunday Times did more investigative reporting than merely covering the outcome of the triangular series Down Under.
The BCCSL should do well to cut down unnecessary frills and get a competent coach from abroad and take note of Ian Botham's suggestion for a proper coach.
To this former Sri Lanka captain, Dr Buddy Reid, too agreed with Botham's suggestion. How many coaches have taken over after Whatmore.
What sort of consistency have they achieved since then? With a mediocre
attack, the fielding, too has failed to maintain its past levels.
Bernie Wijesekera reporting from AustraliaThe topic of discussion worldwide among the cricketing fraternity today is the calling of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan by umpire Emerson in the match between Sri Lanka and England; and many other issues that heaped up in Sydney in the Ashes series where Michael Slater was found apparently short of his ground with his score on 35. Umpire Steve Dunne referred it to the third umpire Simon Taufel, who simply reported the cameras were not in line with the crease and gave the benefit of doubt to the batsman who enjoyed it. Slater went on to get 123, the decisive knock in a low scoring match.
Adjudicators, in many sports, unlike in the past have to face tough times today. Making some meaningful investigations about the pros and cons of umpiring and the ordeals the gentlemen in the white coat have to face when the game no longer could be tagged as a gentleman's sport, due to, too much money being at stake and professionalism to the core where the players make it their livilihood.
Here are some of the salient comments made by Len King, Director of Umpiring, Victorian C.A. The decision of umpires have consequences. Especially now that once the gentleman's game is professional sport, where the players have much at stake. King, further states, it's a stressful task, and he has to deal with lot what he calls white line fever.
The minute they cross the line they're different people. He compliments the influence of Aussie captain Mark Taylor on Australian cricketers has been positive. He says there is less silliness on the pitch than in the past, thanks to Mark. Disappointment can lead to degeneration of behaviour, and its up to the captains to play a decisive role and push the players back to the line. Taylor, undoubtedly leads by example. This scribe, met Taylor, on several occasions at home and abroad. To Mark, the game is more important than mere records which will be forgotten. At this juncture he wants to call it a day, but the ACB insists that he should carry on even after the Windies tour. The public does not see the lighter side after watching the debatable decision from various angles; with the benefit of numerous TV cameras.
Not only King, who started umpiring in 1978-79 and gave up 5 years ago. Even walking on the streets he was harangued after some games. He says, "they tell me I was prejudiced or a cheat". Apparently happens to some umpires even in Sri Lanka when they do the correct thing.
A leading batsman now in the Lankan team was ruled not out in a match played in Galle. A senior from the fielding side asked the batsman, is this umpire your other stepfather. The past five weeks in Australia have been plagued by disputes for the umpiring profession. Farcical run outs, disputed catches, hotched boundaries; and a bowler with perhaps the most scrutinised action in history in Sri Lankan M. Muralitharan, whose technical purity remains nonetheless indeterminate. King adds that this summer the tourists feel that they are not being better umpired than six years ago. The visiting Englishmen were not happy with decisions given against them by third umpire Angley and Simon Taufel, during the Ashes series. While the visiting Sri Lankans were on the verge of lynching umpire Emerson, when he no-balled 'Murali' for throwing. Why is the modern Test umpire - with his walkie talkie video aids, big company sponsorship and ICC referee - still apparently arbitrating with such uncertainty? Gone were the times that the man in the white long coat was always right. Writer Jack Fingleton also a famous commentator, observed 40 years ago that Test umpires were even more powerful public figures than politicians to be able with a single gesture to send nations into hysterics of grief or rapture.
But, today such authority was however was never destined to last. As Pakistan's former captain, Asif Iqbal asked, 'I can't see why in a democratic society, where government and all the accepted standards in every walk of life are being questioned - why umpires should be immune. Times have changed. Former England all-rounder, Ian Botham in his first book in 1980 stressed never argue with an umpire. There will be times when you want to.... but the laws of cricket says that the umpire's decision is final. You stand and complain, you only make yourself look silly. Yet, who should be umpire Emerson's a stringent critic - the Sri Lankan captain, Arjuna Ranatunga's most outspoken supporter during their Sunday Punch and Judy show? Step forward Ian Botham. Far from removing adjudication errors from cricket technology has led to different kinds of umpiring mistakes. The laws say the umpire should judge the issue - 'If anyone has a better suggestion, I'd like to hear" writes Gideon Haigh. Adjudicating Slater's run out when Steve Dunne, put it to the third umpire as the wicket was invisible to him and not in line with the crease. And this on a second run. The question arose among few minds in Sydney, is the third harming the umpiring technique? The case of Muralitharan, meanwhile is murkier still. It might be instructive to recall the ways cricket hitherto dealt with bowlers of suspicious actions.
The first war against throwers was concerted in England at the turn of the century, initiated by a set of strong-willed umpires and county captains. The second internationally in the late '50s and in 1960s sprang from a common objective fostered again by the umpires and senior administrators of Test playing nations. Technology played a decisive role in the latter case. England's Gubby Allen, commissioning photographer Ken Kelly to film a number of suspect bowlers secretly with a movie camera. But no one disputed Sir Don Bradman's sage words on the subject. Throwing question is so complex, because it's not a question of fact, but a question of opinion or interpretation. Men of unquestioned goodwill and sincerity take completely opposite views. The laws say the umpires should judge the issue - if anyone has a better suggestion, I'd like to hear it. "No one today is satisfied with Sir Don's trust in the umpires. Yet we are not closer to a precise judgement of whether Muralitharan obtains an unfair advantage by his action for all the video aided scrutiny of commentators' committees, doctors and biomechanics implies that the first part of his statement hold true. We may be looking for an undisputable scientific fact that isn't there.
Not all has been gloom for umpires for this season says Gabrielle Costa. In between times, the Melbourne Test was adjudicated well in the trying circumstances in a tense game by West Indian Steve Bucknor and Aussie Darryl Harper. Of course they were scarcely mentioned in dispatches, for Sir Neville Cardus's remark about umpires still holds true. "The umpire at cricket is like the geyser in the bathroom, we cannot do without it, yet we notice it only when it is out of order."
In Sri Lanka, too apparently the poor umpires are posed with problems due to outside pressure and influence, which is a setback for the development of the game. There are bowlers whose actions are found wanting be it at school or club level. But the umpires quite aware of this malady, feel that they will face setbacks to their career, as a result.
A good example.- A senior umpire in the top panel had this to say about
Kumar Dharmasena's bowling: "The moment he gets bashed around for a couple
of fours, he tends to catapult the ball. Why not call him or bring to the
notice of the authorities? Then I will get the chop, he added. Now, what
has happened to Dharmasena? He has been reported. The ICC has given notice
to the BCCSL, that Kumara will not be able to bowl in any international
game unless he changes his action.
A temporary fracture or a permanent breach?
By J. Neville Turner,(Barrister and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Victoria: President, Australian Cricket Society)
As a rule, I do not much enjoy conversations with professional sports persons. For the most part, they are arrogant, narcissistic and tunnel visioned. I prefer to judge sportsmen by their performance, and not have my illusions shattered. But, on my first visit to Sri Lanka in 1992 I met a young player who was a delight to talk to. His name was Muttiah Muralitharan. He was 19 years old.
I was spending a study year in South Asia. The purpose was to investigate children's conditions in Sri Lanka and India. My brief was to investigate the legal processes surrounding the adoption by Australians of South Asian children. I wanted to gauge local attitudes to inter-country adoptions. Were they regarded as exploitation of a poorer country? Were the safeguards of due process being observed? Would orphans and destitute children be better off in their own country? And above all, was the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child being complied with?
Like any astute academic, I made sure that my research was combined with sport! And I chose the time of my visit to coincide with Australia's first cricket tour of Sri Lanka since 1983. It was indeed the first time that international cricket was being staged in Sri Lanka since the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna's campaign of terror during the late 1980s had frightened off visiting teams.
I arrived in Sri Lanka two weeks before the Australian team. Landing at Colombo Airport from sanitised Singapore, at midnight, with no-one to meet me, was not the most propitious entree to a new country. All the buses had stopped. I was obliged to take a taxi. Sure enough, I was ripped off by the driver. He took me to a hotel on Galle Road. I was overcharged. The hotel owner was in league with the taxi-driver. An exhausted foreigner was fair game.
And next day, as I sought to find Colombo University's Law School (which is at Bambalapitiya, just off Galle Road), the three-wheel driver circumnavigated to the City, traversing the Pettah! He feigned ignorance of the university's whereabouts. When he eventually arrived there, he sought an increase of the negotiated fare! But a couple of Law students, well schooled in Contract Law, came to my aid. Putting their law into practice, they rescued me from the mercenary machinations of the auto-rickshaw driver. His perambulations had been in vain.
Thereafter, I fell completely in love with Sri Lanka. I have revisited it twice - in 1994 and 1996. By the merest chance, both visits coincided with Australia's appearance in the quadripartite, limited overs Singer Cup. My love affair with this lovely country is irrefragible. One of my friends, who believes in reincarnations, is convinced that I spent a previous life there - as a Muslim Sultan, with my own harem. It is my second home. I am the proud foster-father of a charming six year old girl from Deniyaya.
When I arrived in 1992, I sought to acquaint myself with local, first-class cricket. I discovered the wonderfully titled "Nondescript Cricket Club", 12, Maitland Road. The Tamil Union was playing a Colts XI. It was a low-scoring game played on a lively surface. A small crowd saw Champaka Ramanayake take 6 for 33, thus cementing his position as opening bowler for the Test XI. I was cordially whisked into the pavilion, to experience my first taste of Old Arrack, and learn a little of Sri Lankan cricket history.
Ramanayake was well supported by a boyish off spinner, who turned the ball prodigiously. Despite the name of the side for which he played, Muralitharan was the only Tamil in the side. I quote from my diary (3rd August 1992), which gives my first impressions:- "He was very modest, but he took a wicket with his first ball, beautifully flighted, and got a fair amount of spin. I liked the way he gave the ball air. I hope that he gets international recognition." Muralitharan showed great interest in Australia and in my research into children's conditions. He invited me to his birthday party.
Now, the cricket world knows all about this unknown boy. Muttiah Muralitharan is the most successful Sri Lankan bowler of all time. With the possible exception of Jim Laker, he is the finest off spinner in cricket history. He has, by all accounts, remained the same charming, modest young man that I met at the Nondescripts Cricket Club.
A breachHe has also been the unwitting cause of the most serious breach in the previously cordial relationship between Sri Lanka and Australia. An incident at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day, 1995, did more damage to that relationship than any of the fanatical demagoguery of Pauline Hanson and her redneck supporters.
I was there. Mr. Hair's action stunned all 55,000 people at the MCG. I was saddened beyond measure at its apparent cruelty. The most charming of young cricketers had been humiliated before the largest gathering that assembles in a year's first class cricket. Mr. Hair's unprecedented no-balling of Muralitharan from the bowler's end had seemingly destroyed his career.
The ramifications of this tragic incident were manifest during my visit to Sri Lanka in 1996. In 1992, Australians had been popular visitors, in spite of a rather negative attitude of their captain Allan Border. Border had failed to declare. Likewise in 1994, during the Quadrangular Singer Cup, the Sri Lankan spectators generously applauded the Australians against all the other opponents - Sri Lanka excepted.
How different was the attitude in 1996! The Australians, under the captaincy of Ian Healy, were booed at every match. Sri Lankans vigorously barracked for India and Zimbabwe against Australia. Healy was contemptuously whistled at whenever he went into bat. The press lost no opportunity to ridicule and lambast Australia. They reported a nocturnal visit by a female dancer to Healy's room at the Oberoi sneering at Healy's assertion that she was seeking his support for an application for an Australian immigrant visa!
The euphoria at Sri Lanka's triumph over Australia in the Final of the 1996 Singer Cup was all the sweeter for its element of revenge for the Hair incident. And Mr. Hair was given musical posterity in a satirical cassette in Sri Lanka.
I was ashamed of being an Australian. I wrote an article in the "Daily News", apologising on behalf of Australian cricket lovers. In it, I explained that there were two types of Australian spectator. One category is schooled on the extreme partisanship of Australian Rules. In Melbourne and other Southern and Western cities, it is obligatory to 'barrack' for a football team. Support of one team automatically means hatred of all others. This philosophy is well expressed by Shakespeare's denunciation of the Yorkist cause. "Nothing can seems foul to those that win."
But there is another breed of cricket lover who stands by the dictum that "The captains are responsible at all times for ensuring that play is conducted within the spirit of the game as well as within the Laws". For such individuals, therefore, the phrase, "Spirit of the game", is not a platitudinous myth, as many "postmodern" commentators strive to prove. It represents a legal as well as a moral imperative.
The true Australian cricket-lover deplored the circumstances of the no-balling of Muralitharan. Equally, he must query the bold statement in Mr. Hair's recent books that Muralitharan's action is "diabolical". Perhaps the book was ghosted and does not represent his true view. In a forensic arena, however, it would undoubtedly have given rise to a suspicion of bias, sufficient to disqualify its maker from adjudicating.
To justify his 1995 conduct, Mr. Hair and his champions would no doubt cite Law 24 (2): "If either umpire is not entirely satisfied with the absolute fairness of a delivery he shall call and signal 'no-ball' instantly upon delivery."
I have argued in another article, entitled ("The Laws of Cricket - A Legal Minefield," Baggy Green, Vol. 1, December 1998) that the laws of cricket are imperfectly drafted. Law 24 (2) is a classic example. In the first place, the word 'entirely', is surplusage. Secondly, one must ask how it can be possible for an umpire to call "no-ball" upon delivery, when he has to wait for the delivery before he determines that is "unfair"?
But the most serious defect of the wording of this law is that it completely reverses the normal burden of proof. In a penal case, the presumption is of innocence. In penalising an accused, the prosecution must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt".
The consequences of being called a no-baller are so dire that, surely, it should only be in cases where the umpire is positively satisfied that he is throwing, that a bowler should be called. In practice, wise umpires realise this. A reasonable umpire is reluctant to terminate a professional cricketer's career unless there is clear proof of illegality. And this is as it should be. For there is an equity which prevails over the stock, pedantic rigidity of common law and legislation. This "quality of mercy", as Portia described it in "The Merchant of Venice", is a necessary corrective to cricket pedantry, as it has been found to be within the legal process. To my mind, it was the failure to observe the element of justice which rendered Mr. Hair's decision - as also Shylock's rigid stance on the words of this contract - an unjust and unfair one.
ConclusionCan the breach between Sri Lanka and Australia be healed? This surely depends on the quality and spirit which this season's limited overs competition produces.
But it would also be prudent for Sri Lankans to reveal more about their history and the ethos which its cricket has developed. Most Australians know little about Sri Lanka, except that it is involved in a civil war. There is a great need for Sri Lankan cricket lovers to communicate with their Australian comrades.
I applaud the work and the support of the Sri Lankan/Australian Cricket
Association under its President Dr. Quintus de Zylva as well as the endeavours
of other well-wisher associations in the capital cities of Australia. Let
us hope that the 1999 series will be played in a wonderful spirit and will
cement the entente that, in the past, has characterised cricket between
Sri Lanka and Australia.
The Commission set up by the ICC to investigate match-fixing and bribery, will consist of three members independant of any Cricket Board,one of whom will have a legal background. The Commision is to be set up before February 1999.
The ICC Commission will require that all Cricket Boards of each country subject its players, umpires, team officials or administrators to any inquiry or action initiated by the ICC Commission and agrees to hand over to the ICC copies of relevant information, findings and reports in its possession concerning match-fixing and bribery.
May 31 has been designated as the date on which the ICC Commission has to hand over its investigation report. The date could be extended on the recommendation of the ICC president or the ICC Commission's chairman.
In order to deal with serious disciplinary issues, each country is required to establish an independent judicial process, the structure and composition of which has to be approved by the ICC. The independant judicial process is to be supervised by the ICC.
Each country is to adopt uniform and stringent penalties established by the ICC for match-fixing and bribery. The penalties are to be approved at the annual ICC conference to be held on June 23, 1999.
Where a Cricket Board conducts a hearing in respect of match-fixing or bribery, it is required to submit to the ICC Commission a report specifying the charge or issue it dealt with, the evidence, verdict and recommended penalties.
On receiving the report from a Cricket Board, the ICC Commission has the power for recommending higher penalties or over-ruling the report to carry out its (ICC Commission's) own investigation if it is not satisfied over any findings.
Matters that the ICC Commission wants investigated will be whether at any time after July 1, 1993, players, team officials, umpires or administrators had any connections to match-fixing or bribery.
Also investigated will be whether any one in the said categories induced
or encouraged any other person to bet on any match or series or on any
event or to offer the facility for such bets to be placed. Whether anyone
induced or encouraged any other person to gamble or enter into any other
form of financial speculation on any match. Whether a player failed to
perform in a match or was able to determine the result of a match after
receiving money or gifts from some person who could even be an administrator.
The title sponsor of the event, a high profile Bangalore-based corporate firm, is likely to pay $700,000 for each of the four Tests to be played in Calcutta, Lahore or Karachi, Colombo and Dhaka. The BCCI has signed a revised contract with Pepsi for Test series and one-day Internationals in India.