Sunday, February 22, 2009

And the peasants rejoiced

After a long career (note I did not say glittering) Steve Bucknor has announced that he will be retiring from international umpiring. Long regarded by the ICC as one of the best umpires in the world, he stood in 5 consecutive World Cup finals, partly because Australia's presence in them robbed the vastly superior Simon Taufel of a chance to be on the biggest stage.

I do not hold Bucknor in such a high esteem. I have NEVER felt he was completely fair or competent. Some of his mistakes were glaring and reeked of favoritism. He bugged me because he would not go to the third umpire even when there was an element of doubt. The last time he officiated in a Test match involving India was in Sydney in 2008. (When you think of the fact that Australia won the match in the 71st over, with just 7 balls left in the dying moments on the fifth day en route to a very tight 2-1 series win, and there were so many blunders against the Indians, it is no surprise that Anil Kumble evoked the ghosts of Bodyline in his post-match conference. But I digress).

However, Sydney 2008 was not the first time Bucknor blundered on the field.
Bucknor first rubbed India the wrong way back in 1992-93 when he refused to refer a Jonty Rhodes run out when the third umpire was introduced for the first time in cricket’s history.

Sachin Tendulkar has twice found himself at the receiving end of Bucknor’s blunders in 1999 and 2005 and the Jamaican also angered the Indians in the 2003-04 series in Australia with his series of judgemental errors.

After replays often exposed his lack of consistency in making the decisions, Bucknor in 2006 alleged that the broadcasters were doctoring images to make the umpires look bad in public eye.

The West Indian was also one of the umpires, who were responsible for the farcical end to the 2007 World Cup final where Ricky Ponting’s men beat Sri Lanka in semi-darkness and amid utter confusion
It is not considered good taste to speak ill of the departing, but in this case I yelped with joy when I read the news that he was hanging up his fingers. I just hope that the replacements are better.

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