Umpires 'still have a future'

2007-04-30 12:50
Bridgetown, Barbados - Officials whose error led to the farcical finish in the World Cup Final do still have a future in cricket, according to Malcolm Speed.

The International Cricket Council chief executive said the five-man playing control team led by match referee Jeff Crowe were full of regret for their roles in the bizarre spectacle that saw Australia "twice" win a record-breaking third straight title and left losers Sri Lanka having to bat out the closing overs in darkness on a Kensington Oval ground with no floodlights.

Somehow a group featuring West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor, standing in a record fifth World Cup Final, managed to overlook a basic playing condition for one-day internationals.

This states that once 20 overs have been bowled in both innings enough cricket has been played to have a result declared under the Duckworth/Lewis system for rain-affected games.

Instead the teams, following instructions from Bucknor and Pakistan's Aleem Dar, the other on-field umpire, came back on Saturday to bowl three more overs in a match Australia then won by 53 runs under the D/L system.

Speed, who came through a moment of farce himself when an ICC backdrop almost fell on him as he spoke during a news conference at Kensington Oval here on Sunday, indicated Bucknor, Dar, third umpire Rudi Koertzen, reserve official Billy Bowden and Crowe wouldn't face immediate censure.

'We are not going to over-react to this'

"They certainly do have a future in the game," said Speed. "We are not going to over-react to this. The umpires and Jeff Crowe, they had earned the right to umpire in the World Cup Final because they are outstanding umpires and an outstanding referee.

"I saw Jeff Crowe this (Sunday) morning, he came up to me and said 'I am very sorry about yesterday (Saturday), we are all very sorry about yesterday, it shouldn't have happened'," the Australian added.

Speed said it was wrong to compare the events on Saturday with those that took place at The Oval in August last year where England won a Test after Pakistan were ruled to have forfeited the game - the first time this has happened in Test history - after refusing to take the field in protest at being penalised five runs for ball-tampering.

That sparked a sequence of events that led to experienced Australian umpire Darrell Hair, who Pakistan believed to be the prime mover in enforcing the penalty, being barred from officiating in major international matches.

Hair is now taking legal action against the ICC and his case is due to be heard by an employment tribunal in London starting in October.

"After that issue at The Oval there was a very comprehensive review of all the match officials who'd been involved in that incident. We will go through a similar process here," Speed said.

"But to put the two together, I think it's drawing a long bow and unfair to these five officials who were involved in the incident yesterday (Saturday)."

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