Orville Higgins | Embarrassing! - Umpires, groundsmen to blame for Sabina shame
We should have known that something was amiss when the Jamaica Scorpions opted to bowl first, after winning the toss against the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at Sabina Park in their Regional Four-Day clash, now under way.
The Jamaican pacers toiled with little reward in their previous game, a loss against the Windward Island Volcanoes, and it was unusual when they were asked to bowl first. The Scorpions had also given a debut to off-spinner Kenroy Williams, and conventional cricket wisdom dictates that if you are playing two specialist spinners, then more often than not, you want to be bowling last.
After a few deliveries, it was plain why the Scorpions preferred bowling, with a number of balls taking off from a length. In talking to the Jamaican management on the day, they admitted that they thought there was too much moisture in the pitch to warrant batting first and had hoped to stick the Red Force in and hopefully exploit the bowler-friendly pitch.
Kyle Hope was unlucky. He played forward at a fairly well-pitched-up delivery. The ball jumped, took the shoulder of the bat and lobbed to gully. Curiously, the Jamaicans hardly celebrated, almost as if they were commiserating with Hope. In came Darren Bravo and virtually from the first ball, he was complaining to the umpires about the disconcerting bounce. Two deliveries must have convinced the umpires that all was not well. One from Reynard Leveridge that took off from a length and hit Bravo on the body, and one from Oshane Thomas that Jeremy Solazano did well to avoid. After Solazano got out slashing a short wide ball to point, the umpires, Chris Taylor and Deighton Butler, decided it was too damp and dangerous.
The obvious question to ask, is why did the umpires not realise that it was too wet to start? I talked to both teams and both wouldn't want to bat because of the extra moisture. What did they see that the umpires didn't see? The fact that the game couldn't restart until several hours later, despite sunny skies, means that it must have been pretty wet to start with.
Second, why didn't the umpires call off the game earlier?
There were far more dangerous balls bowled than the one that got out Solazana. He must feel a little hard done by due to the fact that it was only after the loss of his wicket that the umpires saw it fit to call a halt to the proceedings.
What kind of action can be taken if the umpires clearly blundered?
Players get penalised when they transgress. What happens when officials get it wrong? I understand that Denesh Ramdin could have claimed the points for Trinidad and Tobago, but quite admirably opted to play. If the Scorpions had lost the points, and by implications the game, shouldn't there be sanctions for the umpires? And what of the groundsmen? Will the Jamaica Cricket Association take action against head curator Michael Hylton and his staff? I have heard the ground staff offering the excuse that it rained the day before the game. I don't buy it.
Does that mean it is automatic that we have to start a match with a clearly wet wicket if rain falls the day before a game? Thank goodness its not a Test match because the level of embarrassment would have been far greater. Would the excuse that rain fell the day before the game be accepted if this was, say, West Indies against Australia?
It shouldn't be business as usual. The umpires and the ground staff both have a case to answer.