THE world cricket authorities have suspended the five officials involved in the World Cup final mess-up in the Caribbean from the next international tournament – the Twenty20 version in South Africa in September.
The ICC match referee Jeff Crowe and umpires Steve Bucknor, Aleem Dar, Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden incorrectly ruled that, after a stoppage for bad light, the match in Barbados would have to be completed the following day even though the minimum 20 overs in the second innings had already been bowled. The finish was widely condemned in the media as a farce.
An ICC statement this evening said: “With both sides keen to avoid that fate and with the match already all but decided in Australia’s favour, it meant the final three overs of Sri Lanka’s innings were played out in near darkness. In the wake of what happened the ICC official David Richardson carried out a full investigation, which included seeking the interpretation of all five officials. The result is the penalties imposed.”
The ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed commented: “It would have been easy to let sleeping dogs lie and pretend nothing happened, but the reality is that the playing control team made a serious and fundamental error that caused the final of our flagship event to end in disarray and confusion.
“That was not acceptable for such experienced and talented officials and although we do not like to have to take such action, we felt it was necessary to decline to appoint them for our next event, the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa. We feel that to stand them down for this two-week tournament is a proportionate measure.
Crowe, the former New Zealand batsman and referee for the final, should perhaps have taken more blame than the rest, and he admitted his error at the time. He said today: “While it is never easy to take criticism, I think it is right that there are consequences for our actions as match officials. In this instance I understand that the ICC could not merely let it go. We set ourselves high standards as match officials and at the end of that day we did not reach those standards. It was not a pleasant experience for us but hopefully now we can look forward and learn from it.”
The result should be been decided by Duckworth-Lewis method when conditions became impossible.
The Twenty20 World Cup, involving the 10 ICC full members, Kenya and Scotland is scheduled to take place at three venues – Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg – on Sept 11-24.
CHARLIE SAYS: It was incredible that not one official at the World Cup final was aware of the tournament rules. The event had already taken a battering to its prestige with small crowds and much criticism of the ICC misjudged approach to the commercial side – high ticket prices and paranoia protecting sponsors’ rights -- at the expense of spectator enjoyment.