Because umpires are human there will always be mistakes. Mistakes are unfortunate. Many respond by saying that bad umpiring “happens both ways” and “you win some you lose some” and that “it all evens out in the long run”. These words may be true to some extent but one key point that is almost always ignored is that an incorrect umpiring decision almost always costs the underdog the most because the underdog has to work harder to take wickets, score runs and win matches. The Australian cricket team has, over the past decade, built up a solid reputation, especially with its batting. The result has been that if batsman like Gilchrist, Hayden, Ponting and Justin Langer were given a chance (a catch was dropped or another opportunity to get them out cheaply was lost) while on a low score they would, in most cases, go on to post a large score and really maximise the cost of the lost opportunity for the opposing team.
Bowlers aim to deliver that one perfect ball that is unplayable or force the batsmen to make an error. The bowler searches for that perfect passage of play where each member of his team is faultless and a wicket is taken. If he bowls the perfect ball and is part of the perfect passage of play and the umpire makes a mistake then the cost is potentially catastrophic because, as is the case with the Australians, they will go on to score big and maximise the cost.
Against Pakistan, in Hobart (2nd Test 1999/2000) Australia were 5-60 odd and looking down the barrel of defeat. Justin Langer clearly edged the ball off Wasim Akram and was caught behind. He was deemed “Not out”. He went on to score a century and in doing so secure a test win for Australia. This win was the basis for Australia’s previous record breaking unbeaten run. The Langer decision cost the Pakistanis the most as a win here would have arguably set them up for a historic series win in Australia. The outcome was heart breaking for Pakistani cricket.
If it weren’t for the bad umpiring in the second Australia v India test in Sydney India would have won or at least secured a draw, keeping their series hopes alive. The bad umpiring cost India the most. So yes, it happens, and is part of the game and may even balance out in the future but bad umpiring always cost the underdog the most.
Aussies and Sledging
Former Pakistan Captain and fast bowler Wasim Akram is quoted as saying “the Australian players had behaved like “cry-babies” by whingeing about racism when they had been cricket’s worst sledgers” and “They [Australia] do it constantly and much more than anyone else so how they can go out and complain about other teams, I don’t know.” [SMH 08/01/2008]
This opinion of the Australian team is largely supported (albeit relecutantly by some) by most followers of cricket. The Australians have made sledging a trade mark of their style of play. They play the game hard and try to undermine the mental state of the opposition. Wether this practice is good or bad is not for this discussion but the Australians do it the most.
At times, the most distasteful (and humorous) sledging has involved Australians. For a sample see the attached presentation.
The problem is the Australians complaining about it just doesn’t look right. It does appear hypocritical. It would be different if it were Zimbabwe complaining or Bangladesh. I would think that in the cricketing world Australia, on this issue, would have very few allies.
Both Ponting and Kumble agreed to maintain the Spirit of the Game, but instead we saw name calling, batsmen out not given out and batsmen not out given out. Harbhajan is known for being a bit of a “hot head” and the Aussies would have known this and aimed to exploit it. They succeeded. Most times they do and at most their arrogance is questioned. I’m sure they can live with that.
On the other hand Harbhajan is out for three matches and the Indian tour is suspended pending the outcome of the counter claim made against Hogg. So could this mean that India will cancel the tour if Hogg isn’t found guilty?
Regrettably all of this will cost the underdog the most.
– KF 1
Dennis Lillee v Javed Miandad – heated passions erupted during the November 1981 test at the WACA ground, when sledging between Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee and Pakistan batsman Javed Miandad turned into a bat-slinging international incident. Miandad claimed that he was kicked by Lillee as the bowler returned to his run-up, and responded by wielding his bat at the bowler.