The services of West Indies cricketing umpire Steve Bucnor to sports in Jamaica and the world is worthy of praise. Bucknor, has had an illustrious career standing in 120 Tests, and five World Cup Finals so far. We must join in decrying the latest International Cricket Council (ICC) action to remove him from the third test in the current series between Australia and India. I would have added that the real travesty here is the cowardice of the ICC.
Bucknor has been quoted as saying that he considers it a sad day to see umpires sidelined after making only two wrong decisions out of a record of 35 appeals and ICC chief Malcolm Speed told reporters last week that the standing down of Bucknor in the third Test between India and Australia at Parth did not mean he had umpired his last Test.
According to Speed, Bucknor was sent home so as to take some tension out of the situation.
Where was the ICC when West Indies master batsman Brian Lara received a series of atrociously unfair and some would say deliberately incorrect decisions? Where were they when the West Indians were plain and simply robbed in New Zealand years ago by what was best described as home cooking by the umpires? Where were they then and how come they never took action against the offending umpires. Why now try to debase and embarrass the most famous and well recognized and respected umpire in cricket history?
If you ask me, there are many motives at work here. One obviously is capitulating to the whim and fancy and monetary pressure of the big money from the Board of Control of Cricket in India. Two, never underestimate the question of race. Those who would push and rush to quickly sanction and ostracize umpire Bucknor – would not be so quick to act were he of a different race.
To be treated the way he has by the ICC after all he has accomplished is just another way many who are not black act to discount and disparage the achievements and gains of people of color.
If the ICC claims it is seeking umpiring perfection, then it must surely acknowledge that to err is human and there can be no perfect umpire. Yes one may have a perfect day, a perfect match or even a perfect series but that is not guaranteed. If the ICC seeks perfection then it should utilize the available technology, thus removing both the threat of human failings and diminish the threat that the wealthy cricketing bodies can hold the game hostage.
Whereas, in his umpiring career Mr. Bucknor has been a bastion of fairness and fair play, the same cannot be said for some of his contemporaries, many of whom have been guilty of far greater sins of both commission and omission, yet they have not been dealt with quite as harshly or certainly not as embarrassingly.
I for one reject the ICC reasoning for the decision and would ask that the WICB take the ICC leadership to task by asking for an inquiry into the matter and ask for the removal from office of those whose cowardice led to the embarrassment of a good and honorable man. The ICC action has set a bad precedent and I’m sure we will not hear the end of it. Mark my words. Just you wait and see.
I think Mr. Bucknor deserves a public apology from the ICC. As for the ICBC they should be admonished and even sanctioned for the threats that they are alleged to have made against the ICC. But here too, I do not expect that anything will be done, as we all know what they say “money talks and bullshit walks”.
I hope the WICB will have the guts to hold the ICC’s feet to the fire and reclaim the name of a good and honorable man. I call on more of our former West Indian Cricketers and commentators to speak out on this matter. I hope I am wrong but, I have not seen any comments from the likes of Tony Cozier and others who write and comment on cricket world wide.
Jeffrey McLeod is an attorney at law residing in Palm Bay Florida and is a former Jamaica under nineteen cricketer. firstname.lastname@example.org