Signal for third umpire seen as a plug for DMK’s free TV scheme
New Delhi/Chennai: On a day of rapidly unfolding events, the Election Commission of India sent out a notice to the ICC threatening to cancel the World Cup matches scheduled for in Chennai if they featured the existing, established signal for the third umpire.
An Election Commission spokesperson in New Delhi said that the on-field umpires, clad primarily in red and black, straightaway seem to be agents of the DMK (whose party flag is red and black). ‘As if this is not enough, they keep drawing notional squares in air. It amounts to an outright plug for the free TV scheme implemented by the DMK,’ the spokesperson asserted.
‘The match in Chennai can go ahead only if the ICC can give an undertaking that none of the players will get into a situation where there is a need to signal for the third umpire,’ the EC spokesperson said and added ‘we notice that the third umpire is called in to adjudicate in close run-out situations. The ICC must ensure that the players don’t create such situations. Even if this means telling the batsmen to stop taking runs, the ICC must not hesitate’.
The Election Commission said if any such assurance was not forthcoming from the ICC, we will stick to the standard proceedings in such situations: ‘Shift the match to Bengaluru’.
When queried if despite an assurance from the ICC if the Chennai match featured signals for the third umpire what will the EC do, the spokesperson replied: ‘We will withhold the result of the match or order a rematch. And, in the worst of circumstances, we may even ban the ICC from contesting any future elections in India.’
The spokesperson said that the Election Commission also thought of restraining the Kerala-born Indian speedster Sreesanth from waving his hand or high-fiving any of his teammates, as it might seem that he was openly flaunting the ‘hand symbol of the Congress’.
Since Kerala is also going to polls, this thought briefly crossed our minds. But since the player was Sreesanth we dropped the idea immediately. We knew from past experiences that Sreesanth doesn’t get into situations that call for high-fiving. At any rate, anybody who raises his palm against Sreesanth has just one intention, and obviously high-fiving is not that, the spokesperson said matter of factly.
When asked how the model code of conduct conceived for Indian elections can also cover World Cup cricket, the Election Commission spokesperson retorted ‘if marketing and commercial rules made in boardrooms can be deemed to cover cricket matches and players, why not the poll code?’
‘As the Election Commission we are a responsible watchdog. True to our name, we will watch a lot. As a matter of fact, a big team of senior officials of the Election Commission, including the Chief Election Commissioner, have decided to watch all the World Cup matches in India so that the elections are held in a free and fair manner,’ the spokesperson said. After the cricket, the EC officials are likely to watch all the movies screened in India to glean whether they contain material confining to the strict model code of conduct for polls. ‘People may accuse us of overarching. But we know our limits. We don’t interfere in cases of voter impersonation, booth capturing, EVM malfunctioning. We leave these things to be handled by the local police,’ the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, in a swift reaction, the ICC welcomed the Indian Election Commission’s order to refrain the on-field umpires from signalling for the third umpire. ‘If the on-field adjudicators are not to signal for the third umpire, then it means the players have to ask for referral. This is a further validation of the UDRS. So any one who criticises the UDRS must not only read the ICC rules but also the Election Commission’s code,’ an ICC spokesperson said, using the opportunity to take further potshots at the Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the ICC, in a bid to ensure foolproof decision-making on cricket grounds, is set to further fine-tune the controversial UDRS. As of now the players in the middle can seek a referral in case of dubious decisions, by which we mean all the ones handed out by Billy Bowden.
Anyway, this arrangement has not cut down on controversies. So the ICC, in a revolutionary new rule, has decided to allow the spectators to seek review of the reviewed decisions.
According to the new guidelines, if the spectators feel the decision arrived after the Umpire Decision Review System to be unsatisfactory, then they can immediately, in the general direction of where the ICC headquarters is located, make finger-signals. A team of top officials will then closely monitor the developments and arrive at a decision that will satisfy the spectators. The enhanced UDRS will be named RUDRS (Review of UDRS).
The ICC spokesperson conceded that the whole process would indeed consume time. ‘But it will still be quicker than the time taken for Steve Bucknor to hand out decisions on field,’ he said and added ‘More time is not actually bad. It will give another excuse for the TV stations to run more ads.’
(Disclaimer: The verdict on this piece is withheld till the Chief Election Commissioner personally approves it. Also, UDRS is applicable)