From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.05 :: Jan. 31, 2009

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ON THE BALL / W.V. RAMAN COLUMN

The worrying factor

Players such as Sunil Joshi, Ranadeb Bose and Yere Goud performed consistently in the Ranji season gone by and they deserve to be commended, but that does not serve any purpose when one is looking at the future. Not many new players announced themselves last season.

P. V. SIVAKUMAR

Pragyan Ojha... promising, but needs to improve his consistency.

The Ranji Trophy final recently failed to provide the excitement that was expected as Mohd. Kaif and his boys allowed Mumbai to get out of jail after wresting the initiative. It must have been a great disappointment for Uttar Pradesh but there was hardly any doubt that they were victims of their own follies, just as Tamil Nadu were in the semifinals. However, Mumbai displayed sound temperament under pressure to fight their way out of trouble and eventually lift the trophy.

So, yet another edition of the Ranji Trophy concluded with Mumbai re-emerging champions. The long drawn season produced some outstanding performances but the worrying factor is that not many new players have announced themselves barring a few such as Abhinav Mukund and Dhawal Kulkarni. The bench strength is derived from this premier championship and hence it is of paramount importance that new names crop up and gain attention.

The likes of Sunil Joshi, Ranadeb Bose and Yere Goud performed consistently and they deserve to be commended, but that does not serve any purpose when one is looking at the future. The selectors were diligent as they watched the Ranji matches but the lack of quality spinners must be a worrying factor. Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin are the names that crop up in people’s minds but both of them need to improve upon their consistency.

Monish Parmar was the selectors’ choice in the last couple of seasons but his career has taken a turn for the worse. There were serious doubts about his action and it was fairly obvious even to the naked eye that his action needed a thorough scrutiny. He was sent to the NCA a couple of seasons ago and since then he has been there to get his action rectified, but in vain. This does not reflect the quality of the coaches at the NCA but does indicate the weakness in the system. No one wanted to bell the cat and he kept shuttling back and forth to the NCA between matches. Conflicting reports and statements did the rounds and his association backed him to the hilt whenever the umpires and selectors raised any objections about his bowling action. His problem proceeded to its natural conclusion as his action was apparently declared defective in Australia. And now, he will be made to go through the process of rectifying his action once again.

Parmar cannot be blamed for being reluctant to do something about his action; the umpires are partially to be blamed as well. In fact, there are still quite a few bowlers in the domestic circuit who have a suspect action and the umpires have done nothing about it.

Talking of umpiring, that is one aspect that needs a lot of improvement even though the BCCI is doing enough to address this constant grievance from the players. There are some umpires who struggle to count six balls in an over — there were several instances of seven-ball overs being bowled during the Ranji season and this is unacceptable by any standards. The umpires emphasise more on players maintaining decorum and adhering to the code of conduct but they need to understand that most of the problems arise due to poor umpiring decisions. One can understand the odd bad decision on rank turners but the pitches by and large in India hardly facilitate any deviation.

It is not a case of inexperienced umpires making mistakes as the overall standard of umpiring is just about average and there is no option but to accept the harsh reality. The umpiring in the semifinals was nothing to write home about and the gentlemen involved in these matches were supposedly the best in the country. Here again, the umpires in one semifinal had the benefit of referring close decisions to the third umpire, a luxury that was not available to the umpires at the other venue. The prospect of TV coverage in both the semifinals is worth considering from the next season in order to make it a level playing field at least as far as the umpires are concerned. However, if the on field umpires end up making basic mistakes nothing that the BCCI does will alleviate the situation.

The main issue between the umpires and players is about decisions and quite obviously the players sometimes get frustrated and resort to questionable behaviour if they get the wrong end of the stick repeatedly. The code of conduct is in place in order to prevent players from going overboard but the general tendency among some umpires is to assert their authority and demand respect as a result of the implied powers that the code of conduct arms them with. I am not having a go at the umpiring fraternity but umpires would do well to realise that half their battles are won if they execute their core job well. There is no need at all for an umpire to assert his authority and demand respect if he is sure of himself. After all, respect is something that is gained and not demanded.



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