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Do we really need umpires?

Frankly, we think West Indian ‘neutral’ umpire Steve Bucknor has done a great service to cricket, not to mention mankind, by making us ask this straightforward but pertinent question.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2008 02:36 IST

One interesting question that has cropped up during the ongoing Test match between India and Australia in Sydney is: do we really need umpires? Frankly, we think West Indian ‘neutral’ umpire Steve Bucknor has done a great service to cricket, not to mention mankind, by making us ask this straightforward but pertinent question. Mr Bucknor re-enacted the apostle Peter denying to the Romans any knowledge of his master Jesus Christ by calling Andrew Symonds ‘not out’, not once, not twice, but thrice — intriguing, especially the caught-behind decision that he turned down despite an Ishant Sharma-delivered, Andrew Symonds-nicked ball clearly landing in M.S. Dhoni’s gloves.

The Indian management was irked enough to contemplate lodging a complaint against Mr Bucknor. But then, it decided against it as a complaint could be perceived as an alibi if things go awry for Kumble’s boys. But we are beyond the clash of sporting countries and the despair of getting the short end of any umpire’s stick. The Aussies have been gentlemen — Symonds stating he was “very lucky” and was “given not out” when he should have started walking at 30 (an unbeaten 162 can make a gentleman out of the worst of us); and Ricky Ponting insisting that the ball had touched the ground before it reached his hands via Rahul Dravid’s bat after a close call.

But coming back to what we started with: do we need umpires? No. We suggest that we quickly cut out the middlemen and let the game flourish. Someone in the crowd could be given charge to count the end of overs, et al. Umpires can always become forensic experts. And Laxman made a glittering 109. Sorry, Mr Bucknor.