Cricket no longer a gentleman’s game
ONCE upon a time cricket was considered a gentleman's game.
Perhaps elsewhere it still is, but certainly not in Bermuda.
The game's ruled by thugs, league players, most of whom aren't good enough to play in other countries' schoolboys teams.
When they can't accept an umpire's decision, they behave like spoilt children, evenutally hurling verbal abuse at the officials and even threaten them with violence.
It's happened twice in the last three weeks and on both occasions the two umpires have abandoned the match and walked off the field.
Who could blame them?
The game can't be played without umpires. Some of our players should realise that because it's getting to the stage when nobody will be prepared to umpire. When their safety is at risk, they'll put away the white coat and find a more enjoyable way to spend their weekend.
What made the recent incidents so astonishing was that both stemmed from very minor mistakes.
On one occasion, the ruckus followed a contentious lbw decision, and last weekend all hell broke loose because the square leg umpire signalled a boundary as he was of the opinion that the ball had crossed the boundary rope while Bay players thought otherwise.
He may have made a mistake. Like officials in all sports, he's not infallible.
Often in football the ref is subjected to abuse, again both verbal and physical, from players and spectators.
But then football isn't considered a gentleman's game and never will be.
And in most other sports it's unusual for competitors to throw a tantrum when decisions don't go their way.
In tennis, players might hurl their racquets to the ground in frustration over their own mistakes and occasionally question umpires' decisions some more forcefully than others former great John McEnroe and Serena Williams come to mind.
They might sulk but don't pick up the ball and walk off.
Too many of our cricketers are now doing just that.
If they dispute an lbw decision or disagree over a ruling that a catch was caught cleanly or not, they shout and scream. Some have been known to smash their bats through the stumps probably more accurately than they can smash the ball.
In the professional game, split moment decisions are so difficult that instant replays have had to be implemented.
Local umpires, like the majority around the world, don't have that luxury.
Yet when our cricketers don't agree with the ump, world war III breaks out.
Bermuda Cricket Board's disciplinary committee are working overtime these days and they've been handing out some pretty stiff penalties.
Long may it continue.
But it isn't just the players who should be banned. Clubs should also be made accountable.
If they can't control their players, they should be turfed out of the league, or at very least banish the culprits who bring their club into disrepute.
At last weekend's match between Bailey's Bay and Willow Cuts when the Bay team verbally assaulted the umpires, both BCB vice-president Allan Richardson and national coach David Moore were on hand to witness the incident and tried in vain to restart the match.
A day later they refused to talk to the media because “the board were awaiting the umpires' report”.
They saw it with their own eyes but publicly refused to condemn it.
What was it that the umpires saw that they didn't?
They have an obligation to maintain the game's integrity. I'm sure they were outraged but seemingly were afraid to say it at least to this newspaper.
That's one of the problems in Bermuda. Everything has to be done by the book.
You can be sure that Geoff Boycott, currently on the Island with the MCC, would have had plenty to say whether he were employed by the governing body or not. And you can bet there would have been some pretty harsh words from the outspoken Yorkshireman.
It would be refreshing if some of our BCB members were equally blunt.
Cricket has been sliding downhill ever since the World Cup more than four years ago.
The national team have been relegated to playing the likes of Associate minnows such as Argentina and Nepal.
Pretty soon nobody will want to play them.
Not even the MCC.