Given the International Cricket Council’s zero tolerance for indiscipline, I am indeed surprised about a trend that is beginning to threaten the game on the field in Guyana. It seems as though umpires have lost some amount of respect among the cricketers, although it is the clubs which should really be held accountable for the actions of their players. I am referring to the unforgettable incident recently between the Demerara Cricket Club and the Georgetown Cricket Club that resulted in an abrupt end to a final where the batsmen from the DCC walked off the field in protest at a decision made by the umpires. While I thought that this would have been an isolated case, a similar incident was developing in Berbice as reported in the Guyana Chronicle, in a final between Albion and Rose Hall Town Gizmos and Gadgets. The intervention of Mr Hilbert Foster to prevent this is indeed commendable, and perhaps Mr Alfred Mentore could have done the same on behalf of DCC instead of his present course in relation to a disputed game that no doubt has tarnished the renowned club which has produced outstanding cricketers.
Former West Indian greats like Clive Lloyd, Lance Gibbs, Roger Harper, etc, who came from the DCC, were all strict disciplinarians on and off the field.
Bringing the game into disrepute will no doubt hurt the prospect of securing future sponsors, in addition to which this behaviour does not belong in a noble sport and must be condemned. Steps should be taken to reform clubs so they acknowledge the significance of the game and adhere to its principles. This will include above all else, respect for umpires, who remain the guardians of the rules and who decide playing conditions on the field; they are the principal judges in all cases. While their rulings can be challenged at the international level because of technology, as in the case of referrals, nothing is more unacceptable than to do it as an act of contempt and to discredit the umpires.
I have noted on several occasions the insensitivity and rebellious attitude of players on the field, whose egos have driven them towards a false sense of objectivity. They believe that having played the game at a certain level they have been given the authority to manipulate and manufacture decisions for the umpires. Most notable is when a determination has to be made as to whether a batsman is out or not out via the leg-before-wicket route, and in the bowler’s mind he should get the verdict. The scene can get extremely ugly and one can even observe the distasteful behaviour of players fielding at fine leg who are in no position to judge.
Indeed the game has been transformed in so many different ways, and I believe that the emphasis has been on winning at all costs due to massive financial gains at the expense of reforms that should seek to mentally prepare players, especially in conflict resolution. Cricket cannot survive without umpires, therefore the responsibility of players and administrators must not be compromised, and they should at all times adhere to the rules and conditions as set out to ensure fair play.
Even when there are seemingly contentious issues confronting players, there are civil means of resolving them, and players must be challenged to be victors even in defeat, by upholding the strong values that have stood defiantly and proudly as the pillars of what is known as the gentleman’s game. Brian Lara admirably represented those values during his dazzling career (whose wicket was more valuable than his? – and he was never mired in controversy over his dismissal). Lessons are to be learnt and while there have been sanctions against those culpable in the DCC case, I hope that immediate steps will be taken to prevent such behaviour from raising its ugly head in the future.