|Making the country proud
Asoka officiated the recently concluded third Test between India and England at Headingly and did an excellent job. He hardly made a mistake in the whole Test along with South African Dave Orchard and their judgement of events was sound. At the end of the Test, the English media and the commentators spoke highly about the Sri Lankan and were happy about the way he did things. From the day, a few months ago, the Elite Panel was formed, Asoka has had an excellent time wearing the white coat and his reputation has kept on growing. Although he made his umpiring debut only two years ago, he has stood out as the best umpire in Sri Lanka and reportedly has received quite a few good reports from international captains at the completion of tours. With a good track record in a short time and with KT Francis having retired, it was no surprise then when the ICC nominated him as an umpire of the Elite Panel.
Francis, who functions as Sri Lankas Director Umpiring, rates Asoka very highly. Asokas Sri Lankan contemporaries like Peter Manuel too regard him with great esteem. The fact that Asoka played the game at top level coupled with his sound judgement, consistency in taking decisions and his knowledge of the rules of the game has taken him to where he is today.
Ranjan Madugalle, the chief referee of the ICC, is the other man who has come in for a lot of praise from the international cricketers and the media for the way he has gone about doing his work. Madugalle is a lively character. Theres never a dull moment with him around. Hell always have an interesting thing to share with those who are around and the manner in which he relates them makes him interesting to listen to. Whether he relates one of his numerous encounters with Imran Khan on a tour or his tips as NCC captain to the bowlers on how to bowl to Asanka Gurusinghe before a club match, its interesting to listen. On other occasions, hell talk about one of those numerous advises the late Gamini Dissanayake had given him at his capacity as the Cricket Board Chairman and even if you are occupied with something else, youll be compelled to go and listen to him since he relates it in such a way. Try to figure the way he would be speaking to a cricker who has just done something naughty in the field.
With Madugalle at the helm of Sri Lankan cricket as the captain of the side in late 1980s, many feel he retired prematurely in his late 20s. But he didnt completely abandon the game on retirement. He functioned as a national selector for a long time and was always involved with the game. He started his career as a match referee in 1994 and his reputation grew with every series. Gradually he was brought in for the crucial assignments like the "Ashes", the World Cup final and the tough series between South Africa and Australia. On every occasion, he has performed remarkably well.
He has completed every assignment with near perfection and has left very little room for criticism. International cricket captains, like praising Asoka de Silva, have apparently said good things in their reports and that has been the main reason for his gradual growth in ICC ranks. Madugalles judgement of situations has come for a lot of praise and his attitude to explain to the players as to why he is going to do a particular thing seem to have won him the hearts of the players.
He has had troubled times too. One such situation occurred when the local cricket board withdrew his name when it was requested to submit two nominations from Sri Lanka for the post of match referee. Madugalle was doing a wonderful job as the match referee and had just finished a World Cup final, when the Executive Committee headed by Thilanga Sumathipala allegedly omitted his name for personal reasons and named someone else.
But a joint effort from both the ICC and the then Sports Minister, S.B Dissanayake helped them to prevent the situation.
He has come in for criticism too. A lot of it came during a South African tour of Australia when he let Hansie Cronje scot-free for angrily damaging the door of the umpires room with a wicket. Madugalle was criticised for letting off Cronje, but he has always maintained that this was blown out of proportion by the Australian media. He has also received some criticism for coming hard on players. Last year in Australia, Steve Waugh was at the receiving end for showing dissent to umpire Darrel Hair over a run out. .
Both Asoka and Madugalle have performed exceptionally well in their roles and with their near perfection have left hardly any room for criticism. Although a lot of match referees and umpires have earned the wrath of international captains in recent times, theres been hardly any complaints against the Sri Lankans. The main reason for this is their consistency. They might make the odd mistake, but they are consistent.
|NEWS | FEATURES | OPINION | BUSINESS | EDITORIAL | CARTOON | MIDWEEK|