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Domestic cricket in dire need of attention

Our cricket will not improve unless the umpiring faculty is corrected. The PCB should not ignore second-tier cricket because it prepares stuff for future challenges

Domestic cricket in dire need of attention

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) does not take domestic cricket seriously. Last week the country’s cricket witnessed a really shabby day when Dollar East forfeited their semi-final of the Patron’s Trophy Grade-II against Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) when they refused to play on the third and final day over alleged biased umpiring.

It was indeed a damaging step taken by Dollar East who had conceded 100 runs lead and had been virtually eliminated. They should have completed the game irrespective of the outcome and the way they were treated.

Walking out of the game is against the spirit of cricket and is humiliating for the PCB.

After the incident I conducted an investigation by contacting some sources in the teams featuring in Grade-II. I was shocked to hear that the standard of umpiring was indeed extremely poor in both the Patron’s Trophy Grade-II which ended with the victory of PIA over Brighto Paints in the final in Islamabad on March 30 and the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Grade-II.

What a team source told me was even heart-wrenching. The source narrated that he used to hear from people that some umpires don’t follow the ethics and accept offers from teams for favouring them in domestic matches.

The source said that he offered an umpire some money a few days ago during a Grade-II game and he accepted that in exchange for favours.

The source said that the umpire did give some controversial decisions in his team’s favour in that game.

It’s indeed a foul practice and needs to be checked. No doubt there are some good umpires in Pakistan but those who are not loyal to their profession should be expelled.

The services of only honest umpires should be taken for such important events in which the teams fight for their promotion to the first-class cricket.

Biased umpiring at this level can destroy the careers of promising youngsters.

Even in first-class cricket, biased decisions from the umpires are seen. It’s the need of the hour to focus on this area. The umpires should have a personality which could inspire the players. If the umpires give good decisions, they will be respected by the players. Once they make good reputation in the field even players will not mind if they sometimes give a wrong decision.

Our cricket will not improve unless the umpiring faculty is corrected. The PCB should not ignore second-tier cricket because it prepares stuff for future challenges.

Most of the matches of Grade-II either were disrupted by rain or ended inside two days. Even the Patron’s Trophy four-day final between PIA and Brighto Paints ended inside two days. Where some sort of seam or bounce was seen in the pitch, the wickets kept falling at a high speed.

Some outfits like Railways were given all their matches at their home ground at Lahore while others had to move from one city to another. There should be equality in the distribution of matches.

Some journalists said that the PCB did not even bother to provide daily details to them and they had to gather statistics from the scratches for filing reports of the Grade-II cricket tournaments. Neither were the statistics of Grade-II ever put on the PCB website.

The PCB should also focus on the standard of scorers. The handwriting of some scorers serving in Grade-II events was extremely poor. Some did not even know how to maintain score-sheets.

Scorers, umpires and match-referees for such important events should be hired only on merit.

These officials should be provided with good remuneration so that they deliver their services honestly.

It’s high time for the authorities to put the domestic cricket on the right track so that talented cricketers are produced for national duty.

Alam Zeb Safi

Alam Zeb copy
The writer is a sports reporter at The News International. He may be reached at 73.[email protected]

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