Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Men in White: Necessary Evils or Jetsam?


Neville Cardus felt umpires are as good as bathroom geyser. “We cannot do without it, yet to notice it only when it is out of order.”

In the same piece, he went on to mourn “The umpires are the Dogberrys of the game. We see them as essentially comic characters. Whenever a batsman swipes to leg and hits the umpire in the small of the back, how the crowd roars! If the wind blows the hat off the umpire’s head, laughter holds side.”

Not surprisingly, Cardus’ romanticism finds no taker, least of all in the ICC. Now that the referral system is being trialled in Sri Lanka, I wonder why don’t we completely do away with the custom? Why on earth place two hapless souls under the scorching sun and steady drizzle, ask them to stay put and focus all day as if nothing exists beyond the ball’s trajectory – only to end up as butts of numerous jokes for a rare moment of transgression? Why can’t we just replace them with technology and completely wipe out the ‘human error’? Or is it that they provided the entertainment value, as outlines by Cardus?

A fence-sitter weighing the pros and cons, I listed what could be the arguments for and against the Men in White?

FOR:

  1. We just love Billy Bowden, the ghost of a ballerina trapped in an umpire’s body.
  2. Umpires make excellent almirah. And you don’t need pest control or rustproofing either!
  3. Idiosyncracies are part-and-parcel of the game. Cricket would have been poorer without Steve Bucknor’s slow-death finger, David Shepherd’s hilarious attempt at a pirouette or Billy Bowden’s ballet.
  4. Rival team does not lend hankies when you have running nose.
  5. You need an interpreter of maladies called sledging to ensure there is no communication gap between players.

AGAINST:

  1. High time cricket did its bit for the environment. Cricket’s contribution to noise pollution stem from the sheer existence of the umpires. Take them away and future Shane Warnes would have no eardrum within earshot to holler into, thus saving a tribe from going deaf as well.
  2. Bucknor is perennially one match behind in his decision making.
  3. When you replace umpires with robots, you don’t need to care about their salary, perks, legally binding contracts and their rights too. Just make sure those are not from any Isaac Asimov sci-fi.
  4. Allow Virender Sehwag play his straight drives without the fear of culpable homicide.
  5. Finally, stop making annual fun of Simon Taufel’s Androgenic Alopecia in the annual ICC awards night.
Image: INKCINCT Cartoons

7 comments:

Jrod said...

Asimov's robots would be great as umpires, and they wouldn't frown as much as Harper.

Straight Point said...

any job which uses 'finger' to make way out (read decision) have to be bad...

but seriously...

we will not see sachin given out lbw shouldering the ball...

sangakara getting caught of shoulder what could have been innings of century...

and recent howlers in ongoing sa-eng series...

not a bad start...

Victor said...

Really interesting stuff!

I've linked your blog to mine - if you wouldn't mind doing the same for me that'd be great

Cheers

Som said...

JROD, how would they respond to over-appealing?

Som said...

SP, as long as it is index and not the next one, I don't find problems with fingers.

Som said...

Victor, here it goes...check my blogroll.

Soulberry said...

I see this "advancement" as inevitable. Perhaps not as romantic but suitable to the times the game will be played in.

And...

@SP "any job which uses 'finger' to make way out (read decision) have to be bad..."

I use my finger a lot to make important decisions...have to...not all such jobs are bad :)