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The Rediff Special/rediff Cricket Bureau
Bucknor bound to get in India's Hair
January 12, 2006
The International Cricket Council choice of officials for the India-Pakistan Test and one day series have raised more than a few eyebrows in both countries.
A look at some of the ICC officials, who have a knack for hitting the headlines, sometimes for the wrong reasons.
The 53-year-old Australian who will be one of the umpires for the first Test at Lahore is -– to put it mildly -- not a favourite on the Indian subcontinent.
He is the man who called ace Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan a 'chucker' in 1995.
A year later, Indians felt crucial decisions from Hair went against them in the two Test matches he officiated in the England series.
In 1999, then Indian coach Kapil Dev got into a war of words with Hair. It began with the former North Sydney fast bowler walking up to Ajit Agarkar when the Mumbai medium pacer expressed disappointment at a decision.
Then, when a television replay showed Hair's colleague was wrong with another decision, the burly Australian reportedly warned then Indian captain Sourav Ganguly: 'You are not supposed to watch replays and make gestures. The Pakistanis did it and now if you do it you will get into trouble.' Ganguly's explanation fell on deaf ears.
The racism word was raised in the post-match verbal duel that followed between the Indians and the umpire. Who raised the word first is still debatable.
It is thought that the subcontinent's complaints played a big role in the Australian umpire being left out of the International Cricket Council's 'elite panel' of umpires when it was first constituted in 2002.
Pakistan wanted Hair out of this series with India after the official adjudged Inzamam-ul Haq run out and warned openers Salman Butt and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria for running on the pitch in the last Autralia-Pakistan series.
The 59-year-old Jamaica-born -– who will be officiating the last two one-dayers in Multan and Karachi -- might be the most-capped umpire of all time, but to the Indians, he is a raw nerve.
Few are yet to forget the sight of a visibly shocked Sachin Tendulkar trudging back to the Eden Gardens pavilion after scoring 52 on the third day of the second India-Pakistan Test last year. Bucknor adjudged the Master Blaster caught behind, when in reality there was a huge gap between bat and ball. Reportedly, Sachin entered the dressing room with tears in his eyes.
Some more instances when India have been 'Bucknored':
In 1992-1993 at Johannesburg, Bucknor gave Jonty Rhodes a 'life' in a run out appeal. Bucknor refused to even consult the third umpire. Rhodes went on to play a Test-saving innings.
Again in Kolkata in 1998, Shoaib Akhtar obstructed Tendulkar, who as a result could not make it to the crease as the fielder's throw shattered the stumps. Bucknor's ignoring Shoaib's skulduggery had Eden Gardens and India livid. Pakistan won the match.
In 2003-2004, in Brisbane, Bucknor declaring Sachin lbw to Jason Gillespie stunned the Australians as much as it did the Indians.
In the same series, in Sydney, India were denied a historic series win down under with Bucknor turning down a number of close lbw appeals against the Aussies. India fell short of time. Then skipper Ganguly slammed Bucknor in his post-series report to the ICC.
The same year, in Lahore, then Indian coach John Wright complained to match referee Ranjan Madugalle over Bucknor's decisions.
The 56-year-old South African -– who will be on the field in the first two Tests at Lahore and Faisalabad -- made his umpiring debut in 1992-1993 in the series where television replays were first used to confirm run out decisions.
Koertzen became an ICC umpire in 1997, and was part of the first panel of 'elite umpires'.
He has had his share of controversies. He said a mysterious caller approached him with a bribe offer before the India-West Indies Coca-Cola Cup final in Singapore in 1999.
In 2000-2001, in the second Sri Lanka-England Test at Kandy, Koertzen's decisions raised a hue and cry.
Add to this the match referee for the Test series, Ranjan Madugalle, who has in the past been seen to be excessively harsh on the Indians -– remember Virender Sehwag being fined 65 per cent of his match fee in the first Test against Australia in 2003?