Match referee puts his foot in it
You beauty! Officialdom in cricket has once again given me the opportunity to put together a few words, enabling me to fulfill my weekly obligations to the SuperSport Zone.
There I was, after the test match in Bloemfontein, pen and paper in hand, poised to capture my thoughts in writing - with one major hurdle confronting me. No flashes of inspirations were coming my way. Then suddenly filtering through the rarefied air of the Free State, came the astonishing news that two of the key players from the test had been fined 50% and 30% of their match fees respectively.
My mind instinctively reflected on the five days of fascinating cricket I had just witnessed, but some ten minutes later I still had not isolated any incidents that deserved to be punished by the match referee.
The media area where all the scribes were busy filing their final stories of the test was buzzing, with seasoned cricket writers shaking their heads in disbelief. One of them offered me the snippet of information I required to complete the puzzle. Shaun Pollock and Craig McMillan were the offending parties.
Upon asking what for, I was reminded of a "handbag at 20 yards" tiff that occurred on day four. Surely something else had happened away from the ever-prying camera that had necessitated this knee-jerk reaction from the match referee, because the incident I was thinking of was guilt free. In fact, it was a classic example of intense international cricket reaching boiling point. It was great stuff and it was riveting viewing.
Shaun Pollock was the main aggressor and Craig McMillan, who was desperately attempting to save a test, was the target.
Cricket is bleeding world-wide and I would have thought that all and sundry involved in some official capacity would be going out of their way to focus on the positives not further denting the image.
The umpires in the middle handled this incident perfectly correctly and that is where it should have stayed – in the middle.
Mind you, I have forgotten that Shaun Pollock is the Vinnie Jones of world cricket with numerous offences raked up on his CV. His previous misdemeanours in international cricket include radical transgressions such as bowling a ball with a shoelace undone and forgetting sunscreen.
You’ll notice I haven’t revisited his most memorable and most often talked about offences – that day in October 1998 when he forgot to do up that one button of his shirt during his second spell. When will he ever learn?
As for Craig McMillan, who has lost 30% of his match fee, he is young and confident and was simply caught up in the battle of trying to save a test for his country. Good on him for getting stuck in.
As I write, a copy of the (non) incident is being couriered to those super-efficient watchdogs of the game, the ICC, so that they can see if they, too, can get involved.
I just hope they view the footage and exhibit it broadly as an example of how tough test cricket is. Good on you Polly and Craig, keep it up!