The second cricket test will unfortunately be remembered for all the wrong reasons. I don’t often comment on sports stories because there are others who know more about the game than I do, but this controversy goes beyond the normal paradigm of a sports story. There are two main controversies associated with this match. The first is the appalling standard of umpiring. The second is the racial insult directed at Andrew Symonds.
Racism is not acceptable at any time, and our sporting heroes are so often held up to be role models that it is important that they recognize this and behave accordingly. Many are still debating whether the reference to a “monkey” is actually racist. After all we commonly insult each other using other animal references such as “rat” or “dog”. It is something that must be judged in context, and that is what the cricket authorities have done. Whether or not it is any worse than some of the other sledging that goes on is a point of debate, and give the Australian team’s talent in that department it might seem a bit rich to be pointing the finger at Harbhajan Singh. The only way to properly deal with this is to stop the sledging altogether.
The other issue of the bad decisions made by both umpires is also a difficult one. Many are calling for more technology to be brought into use to prevent this sort of travesty from occurring again. I believe that such a move is detrimental to the game. Aside from slowing the game by having everything stop every five minutes, isn’t respect for the umpire’s decision part of the game? Most of the time umpires get it right. Sometimes they get it wrong. Over time it should balance out, with some decisions going your way and some not. What we saw during the second test was an aberration, a highly unusual set of circumstances where both umpires appeared to be having really bad days, for five consecutive days.
Yes, perhaps umpires Benson and Bucknor should be sidelined for the rest of the series, but I don’t think it would be an improvement to rely more heavily on cameras and computers.