By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 40th Anniversary – Match #1093):- Well, this is the United States of America and more notably New York where cricket is often viewed as a ‘waste of time’ or ‘not the real thing’ in some corners. Here is the surprise, it is the real thing now more than it has ever been, and as such, the game must be treated with the same level of regard whether you like it or not.
That notion is true for some umpires and cricketers who are passing through these parts for the summer and are quick to cast needless aspersions and label on the cricket in this area. Unfortunately, they are wholly oblivious to the many efforts that are required for a game of cricket to be played on a Sunday. On the flipside the local cricketers often do not minced their words in referring to some umpires as partial and oh well that is to put it mildly. While there may be some merit in the former there is very little evidence to confirm the latter since umpires are shielded by that invisible wall ‘in the opinion of the umpire’ and hence the show of authority from some umpires.
That appeared to be the case last Sunday at Bayswater Park when Cosmos took on their opponent in a match that was reduced to 30 overs. Cosmos was chasing a target of 89 runs after bowling out the opposition in 16 overs. Cosmos player Sohan Dass, a former Guyana national player, arrived at the conclusion of the first inning, as was communicated to the umpires at the start of the match, and on his arrival. At the fall of the 5th wicket, he made his way to the wicket to bat, at which time the opposition were quite vocal in the usual rendition of diatribe that Dass cannot bat. The ruling umpire Everton Brooks agreed that Dass cannot not bat. The game paused. Cosmos captain Sham Ali inquire of umpire Everton Brooks, who was the ruling umpire at the time, as to why Dass is being disallowed to bat, umpire Everton Brooks smiled with no explanation. That the umpire chose to remain mum when Cosmos ask but appeared more receptive to the diatribe emanating from the opposition calls for pause.
Cosmos approached umpire Herbert Newton who standing at square leg for clarification, he knows what the written rule says, he then walked over to Umpire Brooks who seems uninterested since his decision remained the same. At that time, one of the Cosmos youth players, who also knows the rule, access it on the net in real time. Yes in real time umpire Everton Brooks! Since umpire Everton Brooks was dismissive of Cosmos’s earlier inquiry, the written version of the ICC playing rule was presented to umpire Newton, who subsequently approached umpire Everton Brooks again. Whatever ensued in the discussion between the umpires did not appear to be a ‘meeting of the minds’ as umpire Newton appeared quite uncomfortable.
Umpire Brooks indicated that Dass not only cannot bat at that time, but HE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO BAT IN THE MATCH. Cosmos again inquire of umpire Brooks about what’s going on, that the rule is clear on this matter. He had that frown smile again. Whatever his intentions were, it seems to be quite an arrogant display of authority, and at that time it was folly to be wise. Cosmos decided to move on leaving the mess behind.
What we did not know before, as it appears to be on this day, is that umpires can make up their own rules in real time and position themselves above the law even when presented with the written version of it, or maybe just this umpire whose actions in this in this match cast, rather unfairly, a bad image on the rest of his colleagues who proudly wears their umpires’ badge.
What is more troubling is that New York Cricket Umpire Association leadership was present at the park since there is some affiliation with the opposition, took the liberty to walk onto the field, just before the first ball was bowled in the first inning to inquire of umpire Newton as to why the overs were reduced, but apparently chose to remain conveniently mum on the matter at the time; disingenuous probably, but it was deafening. This was not a matter of opinion. But a case on what is written in the ICC Playing Rules, and on this day establishing weather umpire Everton Brooks was aware of what is written in the ICC Playing Rules (he passed the umpire exam). Apparently, he did not care or was ignorant of it or by his actions, or probably thinks that he is above the ICC Playing Rules.
To prevent a player who is declared in a team to participate in a match is troubling. The objective, we hope, is to always encourage participation, hence the way the rules are written, and for an umpire to breach that rule even when presented with it is a dark, very dark day for cricket. On the flipside, umpire Everton Brooks may have a case to argue if we were playing on the streets in the Caribbean where we often make up the rules as we go. For example, If the ball goes over the fence, you are out, or if you come late you cannot bat, and that usually breaks up the game. Unfortunately, this is not street cricket, or maybe it is.
When contacted on the matter, the United States of America Cricket Umpires Association president, Danny Khan, stated that ‘the decision to disallow the batsman from batting in the match at the fall of the 5th wicket was wrong and to disallow him to participate in the match is a gross misrepresentation of the ICC playing rules 188.8.131.52.’
Here is the ICC Playing Rules Mister Everton Brooks. Read It! You may be quizzed on it sometime again, if you didn’t know it before, and share it with anyone who cares.
184.108.40.206 The player shall not be permitted to bat in the match until his team’s batting innings has been in progress for the length of playing time that is equal to the unexpired Penalty time carried forward from the previous innings. However, once his side has lost five wickets in its batting innings, he may bat immediately. If any unexpired penalty time remains at the end of that batting innings, it is carried forward to the next and subsequent innings of the match.
Any umpire can make a mistake when giving an onfield decision or blank at a moment when they are required to recall the specifics of the ICC Playing Rules, but must always be willing to correct a decision. However, when a decision is required based on the specifics of the ICC Playing Rules and the umpire refused to acknowledge such when it is presented at the time, then reason and impartiality is being kicked out of the door. That is when those false egos take over, the umpire coat is stained, badge ripped apart, and the game of cricket is brought into disrepute and floats away in drain somewhere.
Any umpire ‘worth his salt’ who prides himself on wearing the umpires badge and coat must do so with impartiality and in a dignified way, and shall never stand in the way or have a hand in determining the result of a cricket match. That is an umpire. That was not so in this match!
Cosmos will play Queens United at Beach 32nd street next Sunday.