Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni was fined 50 per cent of his match fees for walking into the ground and confronting the umpires during the 20th over of the game against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Friday. With Dhoni admitting to the Level 2 offence, he was fined 50 per cent of his match-fee. But the bigger problem here is the number of howlers we have seen in this edition of the league alone.
Speaking to IANS, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry said that it was indeed a scenario where just like players, code of conduct must be brought in even for the umpires. For him, the game is of prime importance and any action which makes it suffer needs immediate redressal.
"It's Indian cricket and of course everyone has a view and is entitled to it and that's an expression of the passion for the game of cricket that makes Indian cricket what it is. When MSD walked out onto the ground, he would have done so in the complete knowledge that he will be fined for it. This was a violation and he has been punished and fined. That matter ends there.
"When the quantum of punishment is decided for a violation, a lot of factors are considered, including the previous record of the conduct of the player concerned and the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the incident concerned. It is also apparent that the match officials have to pull up their socks. Whether it is the on-field calls or the third umpires or the match referees. They need to be consistent and they need to improve their accuracy percentage," he explained.
Bringing up the howlers that have taken the limelight away from the game, the Treasurer cited a number of examples wherein the decision-making has left a lot to be desired.
"I will give the example of MSD. He transgressed the code of conduct and he was fined for it. Earlier in the tournament, Virat Kohli and Chahal transgressed the code as well but they were not fined for it. In both cases, it was an atrocious call by the umpire that evoked reactions from the players and we must accept the sense of frustration that they feel and this needs to be addressed. Maybe it is time to consider a system where even the umpires are penalised for atrocious decisions that lead to unwanted situations on the field of play."
"The umpires are the custodians of the game and must maintain the highest standard of conduct. The performance of the umpires and the match officials is a really significant part of the issue. I mean when you review these games so far, you have the call regarding the 'Browning' by Ashwin (I refuse to call it 'Mankading' since Vinoo Mankad had warned Bill Brown but despite the warnings, Brown chose to leave his ground), you have that no-ball being missed in that RCB-MI game, you have Ulhas Gandhe signalling a no-ball and then the square-leg umpire vehemently saying no and Gandhe changing his decision. This is the biggest and best franchise league in the world," he pointed"
"There was also an incident this year where a Match Referee out of the blue told a senior Indian player prior to an IPL game to mind his language when he wasn't even talking and when he was confronted with that later he said that it was merely a piece of friendly advice."
Anirudh feels that the issue needs to be looked at immediately and hopefully all the issues -- especially regarding the recruitment of umpires and the conduct of exams -- will be looked into by the ombudsman.
"We need to review the system urgently. The umpire assessment method needs to be sustained if not upgraded. The lack of video cameras to assess umpire performance this year was inexcusable. There have been murmurs about umpire recruitment, about conflict of interest with regard to the umpire examinations etc. and with the appointment of ombudsman one hopes they would be put to rest," he said.
A BCCI functionary echoed the sentiments of the treasurer and said that while all other areas are given priority, umpiring has left a huge hole that is ultimately bringing down the reputation of the IPL.
"You invited the best of players from across the globe and then you see that howlers have become the norm. Every second game you see a mistake and that is terrible advertisement for the game. But who is taking responsibility? There is an academy for umpires in Nagpur. And how many umpires do we have in the international panel? Just S. Ravi. So clearly, there is lack of ownership.
"The idea to have Indian umpires was to help them experience top-flight games and the pressures that come with it. But here, they are getting exposed every second game. So, the same must also be happening in the domestic circuit? Just because it isn't televised, you don't see it. This is just the result of a lack of process.
"In the case of that Malinga no-ball, it came to light only because it was at such a crucial juncture of the game and on an average there may be around 20 no-balls in some games that are being missed out by the umpires. This needs to stop," he explained.
"When the team did poorly in the 2007 World Cup, a policy was put in place to ensure that the same mistakes aren't repeated. Are we doing this in case of umpiring howlers? Some umpires are heard to be telling others that if you make a mistake, balance it out by giving another decision in favour of the aggrieved team. A proper process needs to be in place if things are to improve. Most importantly, responsibility can't be shrugged off."