Umpire warned for bad language

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The Independent Online

It's just not cricket. Umpires are used to being the arbiters of justice and fair play on the pitch but yesterday one of them found himself on the receiving end off it.

It's just not cricket. Umpires are used to being the arbiters of justice and fair play on the pitch but yesterday one of them found himself on the receiving end off it.

Alan Whitehead, one of England's most experienced umpires, was punished for allegedly swearing at a Warwickshire bowler. Whitehead, 59, denied the charge, but a disciplinary panel of the England and Wales Cricket Board found the former Somerset player guilty of being in breach of a directive relating to fair and proper conduct on the field of play. He was cautioned as to his future conduct and ordered to pay £250 costs.

Last night Barrie Leadbeater, chairman of the First Class Umpires Association, said: "This is the first time an umpire has been disciplined. It is unprecedented."

The alleged altercation took place during a National League match between Warwickshire and Durham on 23 July after Whitehead turned down an lbw appeal from a Warwickshire bowler, believed to be Dougie Brown. The Warwickshire captain, Neil Smith, mentioned it in his report and although Warwickshire did not make a formal complaint the ECB decided to take the matter further.

Whitehead, a former Somerset slow left-arm bowler, is a genial person who is well respected, having stood in five Tests between 1982 and 1987. He is due to retire in 2005. An ECB spokesman said: "The panel took into account Mr Whitehead's long and distinguished career."

This match was the first occasion on which Whitehead had officiated at Edgbaston since the last CGU match of the previous season. On that occasion his decision to abandon the match because of rain five balls before the end of the 10th over meant Warwickshire, who would have beaten Hampshire had the over been completed, were instead relegated.

This is the second time this season a senior umpire has been involved in an altercation with a player. David Constant and the Sussex captain Chris Adams confronted each other at Hove, but on that occasion the ECB took no action.

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