Cricket : How's that Mr. Harper ?

By Denzil Fernandes
Sports Editor

London, Jul 17: You are as good as your current performance is an old saying.  Whatever your past, especially for an umpire in an international match, every decision counts in the current match and one cannot go on your past deeds.  The recent spat between India captain M.S. Dhoni and veteran Australian umpire Daryl Harper was a classic point where despite Harper’s  experience of officiating in 95 Test matches,  some of his decisions drew flak from every corner when India played West Indies in the Caribbean series which India won recently.

Former cricket umpire Daryl Harper  (59) of Australia, it may be recalled,  suddenly withdrew from the third test in Dominica prematurely in the India versus West Indies test series played earlier after having officiated in 95 tests.  Following indirect comments on the official by the Indian captain, Harper thought it fit to get away from the firing line.

It was a clear case of nervous nineties for Harper who could not withstand the criticism of Indian captain M.S.Dhoni for sub standard umpiring decisions.  In fact, at one stage during a post match chat in West Indies earlier,  Dhoni said that ‘we could have been in the hotel earlier if the correct decisions  were made in the match.”  The Jamaica test which India won inside four days should have ended earlier according to Dhoni.

A fuming Harper accused Dhoni of being unfair in his criticism.  Now sitting in his retired home in Adelaide he has gone to the extent of even saying that the ICC did not support him when it was important to back the umpire.  Accusing the ICC of ‘selective management’ he said that Dhoni should have been pulled up for his comments.

However, Dhoni found great support coming from retired umpire Dickie Bird of England. Bird supported Dhoni's decision to attack the umpiring. "Captains are entitled to pass opinions on umpires -- it is healthy for the sport. I don't see anything wrong in them judging us (umpires)," the Yorkshireman said.  "Why should he be penalised?" asked Bird. "In years gone by, captains used to openly criticise umpiring decisions - we used to take it sportingly. These days, the match referee steps in, and that's something I am against."

“We have had problems with you before, Daryl” is what Dhoni said to the umpire when the tussle between the captain and umpire continued.  Accusing the Indians of ill manners, Harper was critical of the team and the Indian  fielders not adhering to the spirit of the game.  Daryl Harper has been always in the news especially when he has umpired matches involving India.  Although he has been in the elite panel of ICC umpires, Harper has never been able to instill any kind of confidence with the Indian team.  So much so, unluckily for him, he has given so many wrong decisions especially against India.  It is believed that there were at least nine decisions which were given wrongly by Harper that drew fire from the generally cool Indian captain in the West Indies.   Daryl felt targeted by India in the first test match against West Indies last month and then withdrew from the third test in Dominica with a premature retirement after 95 tests.

The recently concluded Caribbean series had more things than usual.  India’s series win took the cake, but Gayle’s omission from the West Indies squad and to top it all the on field  clash of Dhoni and Harper made juicy reading.  The spat between the Indian captain and the Australian umpire made news especially in India and the cricket world.  For a change, ICC were silent observers and had not much to say.  In any case, they intend to make a presentation to Daryl Harper at his home base in Adelaide at a test match later in the year.  And that too when India plays Australia !

Denzil Fernandes - Sports Archives:



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