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Time for a player challenge system, feels Steve

Calcutta: Former Australian captain Steve Waugh admitted that poor umpiring decisions have always been a “grey area” and that is was time a “player challenge system” was introduced.

Giving a thumbs-up to the ICC’s soon-to-be-introduced referral system, which allows players to appeal decisions by on-field umpires, the iconic Australian said teams should be allowed to challenge umpiring decisions. He said this in the wake of the controversial Sydney Test that saw a slew of blunders from Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson.

“This has always been a grey area and while I have been a great believer in human error being part of cricket because it grounds the game by sticking to its original principles, it also creates talking points and ensures players learn to take the good with the bad in the same manner as life unfolds.

“However, the time now seems right for a player challenge system, which the MCC cricket committee has endorsed and hopes to work in conjunction with the ICC to put in to action shortly, particularly now as the TV viewer is exposed to advanced technology that leave umpires exposed and scrutinised as never before,” Waugh wrote in Australia’s The Daily Telegraph.

He added that more questions than answers have emerged in the aftermath of a Test match that would be forever tainted with controversy.

“Did Harbhajan Singh transgress again and call Andrew Symonds a ‘monkey’ after the two had allegedly shaken hands and looked each other in the eye at the end of the one-day series (In India) in a bid to ensure the same thing would not happen again?

On Harbhajan’s behaviour, the 42-year-old said: “Harbhajan, like many in the Australian team, enjoys the verbal jousting out in the middle and is never shy to express an opinion, react to banter or hand out some free advice during a period that has coincided with his stellar success in taking Australia head-on. For that he is a respected opponent.

“As is always the case, players know what’s acceptable and what’s not and my belief is that the Australians thought Harbhajan had crossed the line by neglecting a previous conversation, hence the reporting of the incident.”

On the three-Test ban handed over to Harbhajan for his alleged use of word “monkey”, he said it would be nice to hear Match Referee Mike Procter’s reasons.

“I’d like to know whether the word ‘monkey’ is considered racist and is the word ‘b*****d’ offensive? Again we have a clash of cultures because I’m led to believe the word ‘b*****d’ would start a fight in the Ranji Trophy while in Australia, to be called a ‘lucky b*****d’ is a term of endearment,” he said.

“At the end of the day India were appeased with the removal of Steve Bucknor, satisfied that Harbhajan will more than likely play the final two Tests while Australia may yet lose Brad Hogg in a tit-for-tat reaction.

“The most likely outcome from all of this will be that from this day forward Test cricket will have lost some of its colour and character because players will be forever scared to utter a word in the middle for fear of retribution.”

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