Tony Becca: Cricket’s dwindling reputation
Once upon a time, and not too long ago, cricket was known as a gentleman's game, so much so that whenever anyone did something wrong he was told loud and clear for all to hear "that's not cricket".
While the game remains a good game to many, however, cricket has changed, probably for the worse, especially in Jamaica and because of a weak governing body.
Cricket, national and international cricket, has rules, but in Jamaica they seldom mean anything to anyone any more. They are, most times, meaningless to administrators, players, or spectators, excepting those times whenever something is at stake.
In Jamaica, anything and everything goes. Administrators, and members of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) are mostly selfish people; they are concerned only about themselves and their own clubs or parishes. Everything, important or not, urgent or not, is done at their own pace and mostly at a slow pace, unless things are really urgent.
The JCA does not operate with the seriousness of a national association, but rather, as Jamaicans tend to say, like a 'fry fish shop'.
The JCA usually turns a blind eye to most things until those things become a problem for everybody.
colour of sightscreens
The latest problem surrounds the colour of sightscreens used by some teams in the limited over matches and particularly the use of blue sightscreens, instead of black sightscreens, as called for by the conditions of play.
Melbourne used a blue sightscreen at Melbourne Oval in the match against St Thomas some weeks ago and won the match comfortably.
Then, St Thomas protested the match. They claimed they lost the match because of the colour of the sightscreen and claimed they had complained about it to the umpires.
Melbourne said that the sightscreen had nothing to do with the result, that they had used it before, including last season, and no other team had complained.
The disciplinary committee of the JCA threw out the protest. St Thomas, however, appealed the decision and the committee ruled that the match must be replayed.
Apart from saying that it was difficult to get the black cloth to make the sightscreen, Melbourne also claimed that other clubs had used a blue sightscreen this season, had used a blue sightscreen last season and there was no complaint on any occasion that the blue sightscreen was used when it should not have been used.
They also argued that St Thomas' protest came after the match had started.
According to reports, Melbourne argued also that the fact that a blue sightscreen was used by them during last season, that it was used by other clubs during last season and again this season, and that the JCA, who knew about it but did nothing about it, had by their silence agreed with its use.
On top of that, Melbourne argued that in playing with the blue sightscreen during the match, they and the two umpires, like all the other umpires in all the other matches in which the blue sightscreens were used, believed that the blue sightscreen was quite in order.
If the blue sightscreen, however, was not in order and if Melbourne were found guilty of using it despite the JCA's lack of action, then St Thomas should have been awarded the match.
The question, however, is this: did Melbourne deserve to be penalised for using a blue sightscreen instead of a black sightscreen?
In the circumstances, the answer is 'no' and it is no for the following reasons: although Melbourne at the time had been working on installing a sightscreen, which can be easily switched from white to black and vice versa, and had acquired a black sightscreen after the St Thomas protest, because of its silence on the use of the blue sightscreen during last season and again this season, the JCA had set a precedence.
On top of that, the umpires, in that match or in other matches, had no objection to the use of the blue sightscreen, and the blue sightscreen had no effect whatsoever on the outcome of the match.
The appeals committee has said that it dealt with the Melbourne case because it was reported to them and also that they could not have dealt with others simply because no one else reported the matter to them.
That, to me, should not be the case.
The JCA knew about the use of blue sightscreens and as a national association, as the body running the competition, they had a right to deal with the entire issue.
They had a responsibility to rule on the matter when it first surfaced and by not doing so they reneged on their responsibility.
The replay of the match, however, was scheduled for last Saturday. It was changed on Thursday to the Sunday and Melbourne protested.
What unfolded was bad for the game, no doubt about that.
The situation at Melbourne Oval was that Melbourne prepared the ground, prepared lunch and turned up on Saturday for the match; and St Thomas and the umpires turned up on Sunday for the match.
The JCA has since ruled against Melbourne for their behaviour.
Melbourne will not be in action in today's quarter-finals and they have been summoned to a meeting by the JCA.
As far as Melbourne's part in the competition is concerned, therefore, it is over.
The association, however, needs to answer some questions.
What would have happened had the teams who lost matches while playing before a blue sightscreen protested and is it that Melbourne will be the only team to suffer when other teams committed the same breach in the same competition run by the same JCA?
St Thomas were within their right to protest, no doubt about that.
Melbourne, however, were harshly treated by the JCA in the first instance. A replay should not have been ordered.
The blame rested entirely with the JCA for sitting by and twiddling their thumbs. They should have found a way to appease St Thomas.
The whole affair is simply not cricket.