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Thursday, June 28, 2012

UDRS falls - Ludicruos - Tony Greig imploring India on 'spirit of game'


Some brouhaha in the Cricket World as the call for Universal DRS fell flat at Board table.  The universal application of the Decision Review System (DRS), which was recommended by the ICC's cricket committee and by its Chief Executives Committee, met a natural death.   It is believed the issue was discussed at the meeting but was not put to a vote. The development came a day after India publicly and unambiguously repeated its opposition to DRS, when most other countries are believed to support it.

Those present at the meeting, which was chaired by ICC president Sharad Pawar, say the DRS question came and went without a murmur, with the BCCI being the sole objector to its universal acceptance. The issue was not put to an open vote despite support for the DRS from most Full Member nations as well as the majority of the playing community. The development effectively retained the DRS in its current form - a mutually agreed arrangement in bilateral series. As one would recall, the Board overturned the decision it took at the 2011 ICC annual conference in Hong Kong. The cost of the system will still be borne primarily by the host broadcasters and technology providers, rather than the ICC, even though the DRS forms part of the umpiring operations.  The present meeting chaired by the outgoing President Pawar was attended by the board presidents of the 10 Full Member nations and three representatives of Associate and Affiliate nations.

Though ICC Chief Executives Committee reiterated its commitment to Decision Review System becoming mandatory in international cricket,  the BCCI -  stated that its stand remained unchanged, putting the proposal into serious doubt.  The CEC has  endorsed recommendations regarding the Powerplays  and supported the promotion of day-night Test cricket.   

There were reports of Tony Greig imploring India.  Reports state that Tony Greig  appealed to the BCCI to abandon self interest and "embrace the spirit of cricket and govern in the best interests of world cricket, not just for India and its business partners."  Delivering the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture from Lord's, he called  upon India to "accept its responsibility as leader of the cricket world" and ensure that the long-term future of Test cricket and the less powerful Test nations were prioritised above short-term commercialism.  He said, that India's power was being used to undermine the credibility and worth of the ICC and self-interest was preventing beneficial advancements such as the universal adoption of the Decision Review System (DRS) and a coherent international playing schedule. Greig also criticised "India's apparent indifference towards Test cricket and… its indifference to the urgency to introduce anti-doping rules and the rumoured corruption hanging over the IPL.  "Unfortunately," Greig said, "India is pre-occupied with money and T20 cricket and sees its IPL and Champions League as more important than a proper international calendar. To compound the problems, India has not only sold part of the game to private interests but some of her administrators are seen to have a conflict of interest, which makes it more difficult for it to act in the spirit of the game.

Greig is quoted as stating that much  of the game is controlled by the BCCI because it controls enough votes to block any proposal put forward at the ICC board meetings, adding that  some countries would not survive without the financial opportunities India provides.

It could have been a good piece of oratory, if only you are to read only the speech without seeing the person delivering.  Greig speaking of commercialism and usage of power…… well, until a decade ago, England used its muscle power to mull over any decision made by other Cricket boards.  It was England and Australia who ruled roost – there is always a feeling that just because the English batsmen were unable to cope up with [read feared] the West Indies pacing bowling quartet, they introduced ‘one bouncer per over’ which brought the batsmen from their backfoot to front and made the bowlers lose their cutting edge. Can you think of a rule, restricting the batsman to ‘one hook shot per over’ or only ‘one six per over’………. Remember to Greig it was not his country of birth, or his domicile on his sleeve but Kerry Packer – was that nationalism or commercialism – does not require an answer though !

In an era where Ian Bell continues to get century on referrals of DRS against Australia, India, and West Indies, does not Indian Board have the right to express what they view as ‘a system with many flaws’.   Even in the present meeting cricket's inclusion in the Olympic Games via the Twenty20 format, was opposed  by ECB – do you read more in to that ?  BCCI denial of UDRS is not just a way of showing the World as to who runs the show.  Everyone would correct their mistakes at least by experience but does not it sound ridiculous that without clear corrections, the same system is tried to be pushed through. 
Greig calling for ‘spirit of the game’ knows the umpteenth instances of misdemenaour by English players and other players as well.  Dear Greig, followers of the game remember that Anthony William Greig, standing 6.6 ft tall made 3599 runs in 58 tests (269 in 22 ODI); took 141 test wickets and 19 one day wickets.   And you need to read something more on Greig to understand that his recent outburst is just not subjective……….

Greig from his playing days has remained a controversial figure.  When it was considered bad to act against National Boards, he organized things for Kerry Packer  by signing English colleagues, WI and Pak cricketers – it was crass lure of money and nothing else. 

This particular incident will reveal the ‘spirit of the game’ which he is trying to champion now.  In 1974, on the second day of the First Test at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad, the West Indies had cruised to a first innings lead of 143, thanks mainly to 142 not out from Alvin Kallicharran. With four wickets still in hand, the home team was in a dominant position when the last ball of the day was bowled to Bernard Julien, who blocked it past Greig (fielding in close on the off side) and then headed off to the pavilion with Kallicharran. However, Greig fielded the ball, whirled around, threw down the stumps, and appealed for a run out decision against Kallicharran. Umpire Douglas Sang Hue gave the batsman "out", and a near-riot broke out in the crowd. The spectators stormed the ground and laid siege to the pavilion, calling for the decision to be revoked. Technically, the decision was correct as Sang Hue had not called time on the day's play, but Greig's actions  was totally unsportive and against the spirit of the game.   On  31 July 2011,  at Trent Bridge, Ian Bell was run out and later played to the media that he was under the impression that the ball had gone for four.    Indian magnanimous  M.S. Dhoni withdrew the appeal. Bell was 137 at the time and went on to score 159.

In May 2011, he proclaimed that ending India's 'domination' of ICC is his priority,  priority if he takes charge of cricket's world governing body.  That time he told BBC that India tells Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and one or two other countries what to do and they always get the vote,’ conveniently undermining the fact that England had always the coterie of Australia and Newzealand and South Africa.  He went on to sully everybody in his  first full-scale biography. Even Australian fans had accused him of bias.  His ‘grovel’ remark in 1976 home series against West Indies heightened his infamy.  "It smacked of racism and apartheid," charged Michael Holding.

Those of us who have been following cricket for sometime would sure recall the England tour to India in 1976-77 and the Vaseline incident.  John Lever had an incredible Test in Delhi, taking 7 for 46 and 3 for 24. Later, t was alleged that Lever was using Vaseline on the ball to help it swing – lever was  wearing  controversial gauze strips.  It was claimed by the English that out of their hairstyle, they complained of salt in eyes and hence they put up some Vaseline-impregnated gauze into the eyebrows of the bowlers.  It had never been used and never was the permission from Indian Umpires sought – they thought themselves to be above law.  John Lever mixed the Vaseline-impregnated gauze with some of the sweat on his brow, that was picked  up by the umpire, who recognised that it was a foreign substance.  To Greig’s team it was inadvertent mistake !!! the genial Bishan Bedi  under a tremendous amount of pressure  due to the losses, downplayed the incident.  Another instance where England proved that when it comes to them ‘they are above law and they can violate any rule with impunity, leave alone playing by the spirit of the game’.  
photo courtesy : cricinfo.com / getty images.

There was another instance – the fourth day's play of the third Test at Headingley in July 1975 ended with the match balanced on a knife-edge. Australia, chasing a record 445 to beat England, and so retain the Ashes, had reached 220 for 3, with their opener Rick McCosker still there.  The last day - a Tuesday, in those days of rest days on a Sunday - dawned cloudy, but when George Cawthray, the groundsman, pushed back the covers, he was greeted with the sight of a pitch which had been vandalised. Several lumps of soil had been gouged out of the surface just short of a length at the Rugby Ground End. While Cawthray later admitted that he could have repaired those sufficiently to allow play to recommence, what sent a chill down his spine was that the holes had been filled with about a gallon of oil. Tony Greig and Ian Chappell, the two captains, inspected the pitch and agreed that it couldn't be used – Greg made no spirited attempts to play on an adjacent pitch or on an extra day.

It is the same Tony Greig, towering height but stooped down many a times, is now trying to take a dig at India in not attempting to play by the spirit of the game.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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