Analysis of the Ricky Ponting Incident

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Cricket umpire Derrinalphil from analyses the Ricky Ponting “incident”.

The Ricky Ponting, Aleem Dar and Hill incident from Monday has received much coverage in the press but I would like to give you a view from the other side i.e. an umpire’s perspective on the incident. While Ponting’s behaviour was childish and petulant, the umpires handled the situation VERY POORLY. I believe that any reasonably experienced park umpire would have controlled the incident far better than Dar and Hill.

I was interested that The Australian Newspaper quoted that motor mouth, Ian Chappell, as saying that the incident should have resulted in a suspension for Ponting. If you take a naive and simplistic view you could agree with Ian Chappell’s view. There you go. I have actually said that I could agree with Ian Chappell on something but only if you forget the entire ICC set up of international cricket.

Having got over the tough bit (agreeing with Chappell), let’s look at the incident rationally and comprehensively. By comprehensively I mean let us consider the legal system that the ICC have set up. It is easy to access on the net. I don’t expect anyone reading this to waste time looking it up but anyone working in the media should have a detailed knowledge of the procedure  that the ICC have put in place to deal with poor behaviour. The ICC has a legal system that they always work through. Ian Chappell can be always relied on for a quote as he is completely ignorant of this system and it would require him to do some work to learn.

Let’s go on a slight diversion here and examine the ICC response to those Pakistani players caught spot fixing. The ICC uses an inquisitorial legal system, not an adversarial system. The ICC legal system has great differences from the legal system used in civil and criminal trials here in Australia. Most readers would have not heard of the terms inquisitorial and adversarial but I will use a common legal phrase “beyond reasonable doubt.” This phrase refers to the level of proof that is required in Australian criminal Law to convict an accused of a criminal charge. The level of proof required to convict those Pakie players wasn’t ‘beyond reasonable doubt.” I happen to know what the level of proof required was, but I bet you one hundred bucks that Ian Chappell doesn’t, and more importantly, he and all the mainstream media are also completely ignorant of the set up. There’s a bet this web site won’t take.

Let’s get back out on the field and look at what happened between Ponting and the umpires. I will show you how good umpiring would have defused and prevented the situation from lasting so long and protected Ponting from his own folly.

The Australians referred a decision. At the ground the players were watching the replays on the big screen. “Snicko” was not shown and the hot spot was only shown from the leg side. Remember the delivery in question passed inside of the bat. I thought at the time that the hot spot view from the off side would show much of the salient information. Did the bat hit the pad, for example? This would have put the issue to bed completely. I thought not showing all the information on the big screen i.e. hot spot from all angles and “snicko” was a mistake that the ICC should make sure does not happen again.

It is from this point that I think the the umpired performance started to slide. Ponting went over to Dar and started to argue and argue. Ponting then went to Hill and did the same. Ponting will regret his behaviour but could have Dar and Hill handled the situation better? What would have been expected of Dar and Hill if they were umpiring in the Mercantile Cricket Association in Melbourne’s Fawkner Park?

Umpires are appointed in pairs. There is no seniority. I often umpire with blokes who have only stood in a few games but our opinions carry equal weight. In the Laws of Cricket there are many mentions of umpires working together, consulting before decisions are made and informing each other of judgements made. “Bowler running in the protected area” is a good example of the communication needed between umpires. If you give a bowler an official warning for contravening this Law you must inform the other umpire that you have done so as the bowler may change ends. The warnings are cumulative. Umpire must work as a team but this did not happen at the MCG.

Ponting whinged away at Dar and then he went and did the same to Hill. Ponting picked them off one by one. The umpires should not have allowed this to happen. If a captain came up to me in such a manner I would have calmly asked him to wait while I consulted the other umpire. I would have walked very slowly over to my square leg college and said “Hello” and “are you going to the end of year function?” While doing this we would both be fixing the captain with a steely glare.  In Park cricket this sort of thing happens quite a bit. You are a bit like a duck. You look serene on the surface but underneath your legs are peddling furiously. It generally works well. The player who is hot under the collar usually wakes up to himself and sheepishly wanders off. Sometimes the captain realises he should intervene. Often, in a disputed decision, such as a low catch, by the time the umpires come together the players have resolved the decision. The batsman decides to walk or the fielding team withdraws the appeal.

Bad umpiring decisions can ruin games for players in many ways. I should know. I have buggared up several games but good umpiring can protect players from themselves. Dar and Hill umpired poorly and so did not protect Ponting from himself. Let’s compare this to the umpiring of  Robyn Bailaiche, the prince of umpires. Once Imran Khan completely lost his temper and stood by the stumps swearing and stamping his foot. Robyn calmly told him to “f… off back to your mark and bowl the ball”. Imran was used to people being in awe of his shadow and he was shocked to be spoken to in these terms but it had the desired effect. He went back and got on with the game, and more importantly, did not disgrace himself like Ponting did. Good umpiring meant Imran’s name was not tarnished.

There are times where an umpire has to project “strength of will.” I call it “putting your chest in the player’s face.” I never walk towards an angry player. I make them walk to me. Alam Dar and Hill looked like lost souls, ships on a stormy sea, but what was far worse at no stage they acted as a team. I wonder if the ICC umpires ever train together. Should they go around the world as a pair rather than the present system where they flit in and out of series, countries and umpiring pairs?

Ponting will regret his behaviour and I hope Dar and Hill will reflect on this incident and act more decisively and correctly in the future.

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  1. Allan R says

    Interesting, but Snikko is not used by the 3rd umpire or any decision as a part of the review process. It’s been deemed by the ICC to be too inacurate (open to interptetation) and it also takes a few minutes, I ammagine for the sound guy to remove all the other noises from the recorded format. SO yeah thats why snikko wasn’t used and hasn’t ever been used prior to any deciion under review.

  2. sandra says

    duh!!!!! wat a stupid article by an australianto protect ponting by blaming the umpires….huh

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