Pink Balls

Within the past week the major news in the cricket world has surrounded the events of the "Pink Ball Test", the first day/night test match played in the history of the game. Unfortunately, the discussions have not centered much around the actual game itself or the behaviour of the ball or the future of the format but on the failure of the Third Umpire to rule Australian batsman Nathan Lyon out after using the Decision Review System(DRS). 


The DRS has been criticised in many quarters as it has not done the job it was introduced to the game for efficiently. That is, it has not eliminated the errors from the game as a result of natural human failure in terms of umpiring decisions. In this instance, Lyon was given a reprieve for a caught behind despite the technology "Hotspot" indicating that the ball had hit the bat before being caught by the keeper. The Third Umpire chose to ignore this evidence and used the "Snickometer" to determine if there was a sound of ball hitting bat, of which there was not enough evidence to overturn the on-field umpire's decision. Australia then managed to recover from a position of 118/8, which should have been nine, to go on and win the test and ultimately the series.


The interesting thing is that the New Zealand Cricket Board has filed a complaint with the ICC regarding the use and interpretation of the DRS. How many times has the West Indies been in this position? Especially against Australia? They say when you are down, you sometimes need the "rub of the green" or some sort of luck because generally when things are on a downward spiral the luck seems to go against you. The West Indies, in addition to playing poorly, always seem to be the victim of poor umpiring decisions that could change the course of matches. However, our Cricket Administration seem content on accepting it "as part of the game" and have no intent on challenging the establishment on behalf of their players. 


Take for example the banning of Sunil Narine from international cricket because of a suspect arm action. Narine has endured this twice before and come back after being cleared, yet there are several cricketers across the world playing for different nations that have an action that is clearly worse than Narine's yet have never been called. When Muttiah Muralitharan was being called a cheat in Australia, the whole of Sri Lanka rallied behind him to the extent that the laws were changed to allow a fifteen(15) degree flex of the elbow when determining who was chucking. Give them an inch they take a yard, the saying goes. Many have taken that yard as the proliferation of bowlers who seem to have a bend in the arm when delivering has indeed increased. The ICC has noticed as well and has clamped down on this with force. However, of the several bowlers being called for "throwing" one has to to notice that the bowlers are all from places like the West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh...coincidence? 


How about the DRS? India has refused to use it based on the belief that it is not fair. What are the chances of the West Indies following suit? One would think that for a nation that has ruled the cricket world for approximately twenty years and were actually the third test playing nation, the West Indies would have some sort of weight in the game as opposed to just blindly going along with things. 


Take for example the vote to legally create a big three in the form of India, Australia and England due to the revenues those three generate. This vote was taken at the risk of other countries now being able to turn away games against this once proud collection of nations based on the fact that the tours are now unprofitable. How soon before we are only playing against the teams ranked around us, namely Bangladesh and Zimbabwe? We may possibly squeeze in the odd game against Pakistan as they are shunned for other reasons.  Perhaps this is why they toe the line in the hope as not to offend the powers that be and eat from the scraps being shoveled below the table. 


Times are indeed dire and we are just a few retirements and an ICC ban for chucking away from being simply not marketable as a brand. Where are the next generation of superstars? Kraigg Brathwaithe and Jason Holder are dependable young men but the star-power to attract crowds or attention does not seem to be anywhere in them.


The West Indies Cricket Board, not just the present incarnation, just does not seem to have what it takes to protect it's players (assets). We have seen Shane Shillingford basically run out the game and Narine is on his way there too with nary a protest against others beating us committing the same crime. Other teams bully umpires consistently but it is argued as "their nature", while players like Ramdin gets banned for claiming a catch that Ricky Ponting or Steve Waugh would have said they were just letting the umpires do their job. That's what they get paid for, right? Yet never would we see an appeal or any defence of our players. 


New Zealand has 4 million people, less than the 6 million estimated to encompass the combined islands of the West Indies , yet within their number they were able to find people with the right stuff to ask questions when they have been treated unfairly. You never know, perhaps their one voice could be the start of what would be the death knell of the DRS experiment. Oh, what the West Indies would do for someone who could fight for our rights internationally rather than continue picking fights among ourselves. Perhaps, pink really is the colour of ball we should be playing with as well.

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