Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wanted: Umpires with no affinity for showbiz

Upon the fall of last wicket in the Australian first innings of the 2nd Ind-Aus Test, Cricinfo ended its text commentary on the innings with a cricket fan's rant-in:
Billy Gane writes in to say: "Seriously; is anybody else out there sick of the "slow death" finger of umpire Koetzen? Can't we get back to the umpy being a non-entity and letting the players shine?"

C'mon folks, let's allow them umpires a few things of their own liking as long as those are not called 'bad decisions'. We don't mind Shoaib Akhtar taking off after every wicket as if he won the match with it, or the regular fist pumping of batsmen after reaching their centuries. So why grudge Rudy Koertzen his slow finger or Billy Bowden his crooked one as long as the receiving team has no grudges against the umpire?

Billy has a disability that prevents him from straightening his finger. Maybe Rudy too has a mystery disease called 'cold muscles' where the muscles on his arm go cold due to prolonged inactivity. This can explain the he takes to raise his arm in the event of a dismissal.

Going by that logic, his speed should increase at the end of a hat-trick. Surely the arm muscles would be sufficiently warmed up by then. I am willing to spend millions to get a video where some bowler bags a hattrick with Rudy officating at the bowler's end. Oh yes - the last wicket should be lbw. The TV guys forget about the umpire when a bowler hits the stumps.

I am tempted to stretch the imagination further on that last line. The 3rd ball hits the stumps but the bowler oversteps. Will old Rudy be as slow in stretching out his right hand in the other direction to crush the aspirations of the bowler dreaming of a hat-trick? Not necessary - the affliction may only be on his wicket-taking left-arm. Even for the left arm the problem may only be restricting movement in one direction (i.e. the same left arm may well be quick as a flash in signalling no ball which requires hand movement in another axis).

Isn't it strange (and shameful) that I do not recall Rudy's speed (or lack of it) at raising either of his now-contentious arms to signal no-ball? I must have seen it umpteen times during various matches.

Too many open threads. For now let us assume that Rudy has slowness stacked up both his sleeves and in both directions, and that he uses it to mill-grind the hattrick hopes of this imaginary bowler. I do not wish to read the unreadable thoughts of the bowler with crushed hat-trick hopes but some of the batsmen given out by Rudy's finger would certainly feel appeasement by the sight of him finally administer 'slow death' to a bowler instead of a batsman!

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