Bucknor gives decision a year after match endsAnd the thrilling news of the world's first medium-pace academy
September 24, 2010
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"And Lord, if I have found grace in your eyes, let me not have to shake Ponting's spit-stained hand" © Getty Images
Related LinksPlayers/Officials: Roger Binny | Steve Bucknor | Madan Lal | Madan Lal
West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor, known to take his time over decisions, really went overboard last week when he turned up at Mitchell Johnson's residence and shocked the Aussie bowler by granting an lbw appeal he had made against Ashwell Prince - in the Test match played between Australia and South Africa in Cape Town in March 2009, which was, incidentally, Bucknor's final game.
"It was the strangest thing," said a visibly shaken Johnson. "I heard this knock on the door, and when I opened it, it was Steve Bucknor. He proceeded to slowly raise his finger, nod and murmur 'out' in his unmistakable baritone. I had absolutely no clue what was going on - until he explained the situation."
It turns out that, after more than a year of careful consideration, Bucknor had finally decided that Johnson's appeal indeed had merit, and that Prince was plumb in front. So the umpire decided to do the right thing and, even though it was a bit late in the day, give the batsman out.
"I know he takes his time but this is beyond ridiculous!" thundered the furious Australia skipper, Ricky Ponting. "The decision could have changed the match. Prince went on to score 150, putting the game out of our reach. A few seconds is all right, but 18 months to give an lbw decision is a bit much, even for Bucknor," he added in frustration.
Bucknor, however, insisted that he had done no wrong, saying, "Everyone knows that the most important thing is to get the decision right. That's why I spent the last year or so carefully studying video replays, photo analyses and reliving the moment in my mind, until I was sure that Prince was most definitely out and had to go."
He also admitted that since that particular match was shown only a couple of times in the intervening period, he often had to resort to carefully studying replays of other, completely irrelevant lbws from unrelated games that he didn't even officiate in. When a reporter had the temerity to suggest that this was a tad nonsensical, Bucknor retaliated angrily, saying, "You media people are never happy. You've always said that umpires should use the TV replays whenever possible - which is exactly what I have done. So what's the problem?"
Bucknor's press conference was cut short as he had to leave for South America urgently, to blow the whistle for an off-side decision against El Salvador in their football World Cup qualifier against the Netherlands Antilles in 1988.
Meanwhile, former Indian Test players Roger Binny and Madan Lal are teaming up to establish what could possibly be the world's first medium-pace academy.
"With so much fuss being made over fast bowling and spin bowling, we believe that there is an immediate and urgent need to revive the dying art of classical medium pace," Madan Lal said, speaking to reporters. "There are very few bowlers today who can get batsmen out through sheer tedium, wearing them down as they wait for seemingly interminable periods for the delivery to eventually reach them, or surprising them with vicious bouncers that rear up at their knees.
"Roger and I are committed to creating a generation of youngsters who will grow up with a deep love and passion for the craft of medium pace."
"We wish to revive the old Indian tradition of bowlers whose run-ups were quicker than their deliveries," added Binny.
Binny and Madan Lal will be inviting a galaxy of medium-pace legends to be guest coaches at the academy - including Gavin Larsen, Ian Austin, Mudassar Nazar and Mohinder Amarnath. They are still undecided on whether to invite Raghuram Bhat, as nobody has yet managed to figure out what exactly he used to bowl.
While the response hasn't been overwhelming, Madan Lal reassured us that the seats were filling up at a gentle, steady pace.