law recommended by the ICC
* They owe him an explanation
In what might result to be yet another affront
against the cricket playing nations of the ‘third world’,
Lankan Attorney-at-Law Senaka Weerarathne claims that he has been
denied credit of being the first to propound the International Cricket
Council’s (ICC) latest rule on the third umpire.
The proposed rule recommended by the Cricket Committee
of the ICC last week during their two-day meeting in Dubai states,
that players be permitted a limited number of appeals to the third
umpire if they feel a decision made by the on-field umpire is incorrect.
Elaborating further on how the new appeal system might work, the
General Manager – Cricket of the ICC, David Richardson said,
that “each team will be allowed three appeals to the third
umpire per innings. If the appeal is successful they will retain
the right to three appeals but, if not, then it is lost.”
Only the Captain from the fielding side and the batsman in question
will be entitled to make the appeal by approaching the on-field
umpire making the sign of a TV with his hands, he added.
The Committee has further recommended that the
proposed rule be tried out during the ICC Champions Trophy to be
held in India this October and then be subject to scrutiny/review
upon the conclusion of the Tournament.
“My writings regarding the necessity of
introducing such an appeal mechanism into the game of cricket, was
first published in ‘The Australian’ on March 25, 1997,
whilst I was residing in Darwin,” said Senaka Weeraratna.
“In this article, besides suggesting an almost identical mechanism,
I also drew from my experience as a lawyer and made an analogy between
the proposed rule and the judicial system,” he said. For example,
he had explained how “a dissatisfied litigant has the right
to appeal against the decision of the judge to a higher court or
a full bench.” Furthermore, he had elaborated on how a similar
principle of appeal should be adopted in cricket rules, where a
discontented captain should be allowed to appeal against the ground
umpire’s decision to the third umpire.
article went on state that the third umpire’s role should
be extended to perform an appellate role in respect to doubtful
catches, run outs and stumpings (which have not obviously been referred
to the third umpire by the ground umpire). He had even mentioned
that the appeals should be restricted to about five per side, per
innings, so as not to unduly protract or destabilise the game.
Thereafter, Weeraratna had periodically sent similar
writings to Newspapers around the world, and got his articles published
in esteemed British publications such as ‘The London Times’
and ‘The Cricketer’ and popular Australian publications
such as ‘The Sunday Age’ and ‘Northern Territory
News’. Subsequently he also wrote to Newspapers and Sports
Magazines in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Africa, India,
the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and New Zealand, from 1997
right up until 2003.
“Therefore, when England’s cricket
coach Duncan Fletcher who had mentioned a similar concept in his
book “Ashes Regained – The Coach’s Story”
last year, and was thus claiming credit for having propounded the
ICC’s recommendation, all hell broke lose! Weeraratna was
stupefied as to how Coach Duncan could claim credit for something
he had brought to light more than nine years ago. “It almost
amounts to plagiarism,” he said emphatically.
There’s no way the ICC can deny having any
knowledge of Weeraratna’s writing he said, as, for one thing,
his writing has been so widely circulated and two, because a copy
of his writing had been hand delivered to former President of the
Asian Cricket Council Upali Dharmadasa, to be tabled at the ICC
Conference in 1997, just before he left the island to attend it.
“It all boils down to the reality that,
outside of the playing field, there’s little or no recognition
given to cricket writers/thinkers belonging to the third world countries.
Neither is there any support or encouragement shown to these writers
to provide their input/contribution to the making of rules. This
issue also highlights the little emphasis and low priority local
sports authorities have with regard to safeguarding the intellectual
rights of sports writers and encouraging others like them to get
involved in the intricacies of the game,” he said.
A perplexed Weeraratna exclaims dishearteningly
“What makes Duckworth and Lewis any different from me?”