It is normal and understandable for persons, being human, to make mistakes; but when umpires officiating at important matches err continuously in their decisions, especially against one side in a contest, it certainly creates a situation in which competence is called into question.
In the second-round match played recently between Demerara and Berbice in the ongoing Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Rubis Bel-Air Inter-County U-17 Tournament, the persistent recurrence of questionable decisions that were deleterious to the chances of success of the Berbice side have moved Berbice Cricket Board (BCB) President Hilbert Foster to express grave dissatisfaction with the outcome of the match.
“Every time I speak to Berbice teams, I warn them about the umpiring, especially in matches against Demerara. The umpiring standard is very poor, and the BCB is worried (about this). When I speak to players, especially the senior players, (I find that) they (also) have this fear”, Foster explained.
He added that if a ball touches a player’s pad, the fear of being given out comes quickly upon the youngsters, thereby affecting their self-confidence.
Recalling some occasions when he had witnessed some below-par umpiring, Foster said that when Berbice played Demerara in the U-15 tournament, there were at least four bad decisions, including a stumping.
He said that West Indies U-16 batsman Rampertab Ramnauth was given out caught behind when the ball had brushed his pad, and he could recall four poor decisions made in the recent U-17 match against Demerara.
“While these decisions may not have changed the entire course of the match, it leaves one to wonder if our senior batsmen in Berbice teams are targeted”, Foster declared.
Foster also disclosed that one umpire had stopped the Berbice team from making a spin bowling change in the first round, saying that fast bowlers had to ‘bowl the first ten overs in a row’ (consecutively).
“In the second-round match, which featured different umpires, a call had been made to the Berbice manager that the bowling change can be made when the team (wants it), and the fast bowlers can bowl how (many) overs they want”, Foster noted.
He said the manager had been told to clarify this with the match referee, and the manager was told to do whatever pleases him in terms of enforcing a bowling change.
Foster said it is apparent that not every individual of authority engaged in this U-17 tournament is singing from the same proverbial page, thus he questioned whether the tournament is coordinated in an equitable manner.
“Generally, the players are worried about the level of umpiring, and we at the BCB are asking why two umpires from Demerara have to be engaged when these two teams play? Why not one from Berbice and one from Demerara?” Foster expressed.
Given that some of these cricketers playing at the junior level may represent Guyana in the future, Foster is calling for the best umpires to officiate in these important matches.
“One bad decision could stop a youngster from playing cricket. It is strange that the umpire who made poor calls (against Berbice) in the U-15 match against Demerara turned up (to officiate) in the U-17 match”, Foster mused.
Foster is again calling on the GCB to get their proverbial house in order.
He is also wondering why the Berbice players have been asked to wear hats of a different colour when the customary colour of the Berbice hat is red, and has been so for a number of years.
He is adamant that the best interest of every cricketer in Guyana must be upheld, and that the administrative issues affecting the various Cricket Boards should not be ventilated on the cricket field. His firm conviction is that, at the end of it all, cricket should always be the winner.