India have once again targeted an international umpire, this time pushing Australian veteran Daryl Harper into premature retirement after criticising his performance in the first Test against the West Indies at Kingston.
Harper has chosen to withdraw from the third Test in Dominica, starting July 6, which would have been his final match, after he was not retained in the latest elite panel announced by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
An ICC statement said Harper made the decision despite the governing body expressing confidence in him. “In the wake of some unfair criticism, Daryl has informed us that he does not wish to stand in what would have been his final Test,” said ICC general manager, cricket, Dave Richardson.
“The reality of the situation is that Daryl’s statistics show his correct decision percentage in Tests involving India is 96%, which is considerably higher than the international average for top-level umpires.”
"We have every faith in Daryl to finish the series and while we regret his decision, we do respect it. The real shame is it deprives him of the opportunity to sign off as a Test match umpire in a manner befitting someone who has served the game so well since making his international debut back in 1994.”
The 59-year-old from Adelaide has stood in 95 Tests and 174 ODIs. England's Richard Kettleborough will replace him in Dominica.
In fact, Harper had been looking forward to his final game. "They don't want me anymore, you know," he joked, referring to the new list of umpires.
Off to cool down
But Harper, who is not standing in the ongoing second Test, said he would be travelling to the US to catch some Major League baseball action and return to Dominica. This was a day before he was roundly criticised by the India camp, which felt at least six decisions went against them, even suggesting that not all of them may have been human error.
Skipper MS Dhoni was sarcastic after clinching the Sabina Park Test inside four days. "If the correct decisions had been made, we would have been in our hotel by now," he said, when asked about the poor umpiring.
Harper courted a major controversy when he gave Sachin Tendulkar leg before against Glenn McGrath on the 1999-2000 tour of Australia after the batsman ducked into a short ball and was hit on the shoulder. However, it does not take away the criticism. The Indian board forced the ICC to remove West Indian Steve Bucknor from future games involving the team in the wake of his controversial umpiring in the acrimonious 2007-8 tour of Australia.
Bucknor was seen as the villain after India narrowly lost the Sydney Test. India batsmen Suresh Raina and Amit Mishra have been fined in the current series for dissent after falling to doubtful umpiring decisions.