Officials reveal ignorance of the basics

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The Independent Online

It was strange, not to say disgraceful, that a number of key people did not know either the Laws of the game or the extent of their responsibilities when the third Test match began here yesterday. Cricket is now a multi-million pound industry and yet on this first day the game was made to look nothing better than a laughing stock.

The first and main guilty party was Dennis Lindsay, the former South African wicketkeeper-batsman from the Sixties, who clearly does not understand his brief as a match referee. In the second Test match in Ahmedabad when he arrived on the ground for the first day's play, he found the dew too heavy for a start to be made until 10 o'clock, half an hour after the scheduled time.

Having seen the effect of the dew there, the match referee did not need to be a member of Mensa to realise the importance of checking out the Chinnaswamy stadium early in the morning the day before the start of this third Test. But not Lindsay.

He turned up in cheerful mood and it was hardly an hour before the start that he emerged on to the ground and found, no doubt to his utter astonishment, that the dew was again so heavy that a half-past-nine start was not possible.

None the less, he allowed the captains to toss as if the start had not been altered – which was questionable – and it was only after the toss had been made that there was an official announcement saying that the start would be delayed by half an hour.

Broadcasting companies who had paid a lot of money for the rights again had frantically to rearrange their schedules. Lindsay himself was seen talking to television commentators but refused to talk to the radio. The BBC then heard that play would start at 10 o'clock on each of the five days.

Later, when bad light intervened, Lindsay was asked if play would start before 10 o'clock on the second day to make up for any overs which had not been bowled on the first. Lindsay said he did not know, but when, eventually, four overs were lost he announced that play would start at 9.44 the following morning. It will be interesting to discover what the dew makes of that.

It was in the last session of a cloudy day, in which the floodlights were in use all the time, that the umpires met and came off because the light was not good enough. After 15 minutes, they then decided that a resumption could be made although nothing had changed.

It was at this point that the England manager, Phil Neale, and the coach, Duncan Fletcher, climbed up to Lindsay's elevated eerie to ask the referee what was going on. It is hard to suppose that he was able greatly to enlighten them.

Being a match referee does not consist simply of sitting pleasantly in a box with the third umpire and watching an interesting day's cricket. As most referees will tell you, it is and should be an arduous job for which Lindsay is scarcely fit.

This, on a day when Michael Vaughan forgot the law about handling the ball – if he ever knew in the first place – and an umpire, Mr Jayaprakash put a whole new interpretation on the Law about catching when giving out Mark Ramprakash when it has generally been accepted that the ball should first have hit the bat or the hand holding the bat. The game of cricket at this level must pull itself together.

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