Umpiring in hockey is very difficult as implementation of the rules is at the discretion of the official. And therefore the quantum of punishment for an infringement depends on how the umpire concerned interprets it.
It becomes even difficult in a tournament like PHL in matches are televised using seven eight cameras as every mistake by the umpire is caught live by the third eye.
The problem would have become acute in the Chennai leg of the PHL as tournament director Shakeel Qureshi had to conduct matches in the absence of a number of senior umpires who could not make it to Chennai because of various prior commitments. He had only five umpires to use for two matches daily.
Therefore, it was no surprise that Qureshi was a bit apprehensive about how things will unfold as the umpires at his disposal lacked experience. But the first week has gone off without any hitch and the umpires deserve a pat on their backs for a good job under tiring conditions.
The five umpires – GS Sangha, K Pradhan, Pranam Singh, Mohd Muneer of Tamil Nadu and Sanjay Borade – had to officiate matches on each of the seven days and on some days even two, which is not easy because a umpire has to cover as much ground as a player. And he can’t have the benefit of substitution also.
“Umpires are criticised for any mistake they make but their good work is never reported. Only thing they need is some appreciation for their work because they do this thankless job because of their love for the game,” said an umpire who didn’t want to be named as he was not allowed to speak to the media during a tournament.
HT has learned that the problem was because some umpires couldn’t secure leaves. With PHL being a long-drawn tournament, they could only manage leave for short periods and some will be in action during the Chandigarh leg.
Meanwhile, the five who are here will get some respite as Mumbai umpire Javed Shaikh will be joining them on Tuesday. Javed missed the first few matches because he was involved in departmental tournament for Mumbai Port Trust at Visakhapatnam.
More foreign players joining PHL
Two Pakistani players will be arriving in Chennai soon for PHL. Kasif Ali, a defender-cum-drag flicker has been called in as replacement for Ehsanullah, who had to withdraw because of problems with securing visa. Kasif Ali will be joining the Chennai Veerans.
The Veerans are also waiting for Spaniard Albert Casas, who is scheduled to join them on January 15. Cases is coming later as unlike the other European players, he will be staying back for the Chandigarh leg also. The Dutch players will go back to prepare for their league.
The other player, Waqas Sharif, will join the Sher-E-Jalandhar who had lost Mohd Imran Khan, who stayed back in Pakistan because of his marriage. Waqas is a right midfielder and his inclusion will complete the roster for the Jalandhar team.
Meanwhile, Orissa Steelers got a boost when Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar joined them on Sunday. Salman got married last week and left for Chennai a day later. Talk of keeping a commitment!
Dynamos’ player explodes
An untoward incident was avoided on Monday when a Chandigarh Dynamos player reacted an alleged comment by a spectator and retaliated. That evoked angry reaction from a section of the spectators.
But before the spectators could come down from the stand to take up the issue with the player for his offensive words, the coaching staff rushed him out of the stadium. The spectators complained to Chandigarh coach NS Sodhi, asking to reign in his players.