The Bairstow Run-Out: Skandakumar’s Polite Challenge to Umpire Taufelef

Somachandra Skandakumar, in The Sunday Island, 9 July 2023, where the title is ” A Letter to Simon Taufel” …. [also see Editor’s Note]

Dear Mr. Taufel, As you were an Umpire who was held in the highest esteem throughout your tenure, I read your comments on the Bairstow dismissal with interest. Since it was an incident that raised comments from two Prime Ministers and turned the sacred Long Room at Lord’s temporarily into an angry English football stadium, I thought of writing to you.

Taufel on the left

I am not an International Cricketer but have played the game at the highest level in my country Sri Lanka, and also been an administrator of the game having held the position of Hony Secretary and Vice Chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board in times gone by.I have also been a non professional Radio and TV commentator on cricket in the pre-new millennium period.

In 1990 I attended on behalf of our Board a meeting of the Chief Executives of the seven  Test playing nations of that time which was Chaired by the late Sir Colin Cowdrey.The event  was convened by the ICC to discuss the future of the game, including its marketing, and was held over three days in October of that year in the committee room of Lord’s.On the Agenda were items as ‘Match Referee’, ‘Third Umpire’ ‘A Chief Executive for the ICC’ and a ‘Code of Conduct for Players’ all of which came to pass.

Thirty three years later, a serious review of the fourth item will reflect its own share of violations / infringements and yet through those sessions at Lords the main focus was obvious, viz to ensure an environment for continuing to play the game through the laws as laid down, whereby no player would  be allowed to take any unfair advantage or be indisciplined..

Returning to your valid analysis of the sequence of events leading to the dismissal of Bairstow, therefore, nowhere can it be said that he attempted any unfair advantage.He was undisputedly at fault for walking down the pitch before over was called. Alex Carey was well within the rules and his rights to throw the stumps down and the umpire was quite right in ruling him out.

My point here is should there not be mitigating considerations when no advantage is sought in a careless oversight?

I mention this for future consideration as I note that you are on a sub-committee for the Laws of Cricket.Could some thought be given for Umpire discretion being incorporated in matters such as these where no unfair advantage is sought by a player in an unwitting action that results in his dismissal. Unruly behaviour is naturally excluded!

In fact, it is my vague recollection that the ‘Players Code of Conduct’ as framed then may have even encouraged men as Carey to have warned the batsman when the infringement was initially observed . One can well imagine the impact that gesture could have had on millions of viewers: one that may well have elevated the game and the Ashes to a premium level of goodwill, while the battle continued to be fiercely fought!

Finally, I would like to share my introduction to cricket sixty-five years ago at age ten at Royal Primary School in Colombo.On my first day in the nets, my cricket master took me to a board on the boundary which read, ‘When that one great scorer comes to write against your name, he writes not that you won or lost but how you played the game.’

I never ever forgot those profound words!

That one great scorer has long since passed on and those lines have seen progressive change to “He now writes only that you won or lost and not how you played the game.”

Should we resurrect that One Scorer and ring in the old values?

The current laws with Umpire discretion may achieve that.

If the game has changed in its values since that crucial 1990 ICC meeting, it may well be because we have let it happen!

Kind regards and many blessings in your well-earned retirement.

ISLAND Sports Editor’s Note:- This writer played school cricket for Royal College and First Class cricket for Tamil Union. He went onto become the Chairman of George Steuart’s, the nation’s leading business establishment and was later Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia.

EDITOR’s NOTE  from Michael Roberts, 9 July 2023:

Skandakumar played cricket for royal College aand was among the top twenty Sri Lankan cricketers in the early 1970s; and would have been in the running for the squad elected to tour England in 1975 if he had not been stricken by some illness. He moved on to become an outstanding TV Commentator at local cicket matches. I was in Sri Lanka when he interviewed Kim Hughes at the Colombo Oval playing field after Australia had lost a macth to the emerging Sri Lankan team: that was a remarkable exchange with Hughes being verbally squashed by a superior professional brain.

That said, I assert that Skanda is treating Taufel too kindly. Apart from the merits of Taufel’s  judgment on the dismissal of Bairstow, I cannot forget the manner in which Taufel lossed over the umpiring failures and judicial ‘cover-up’ on the factors that saw Phil Hughes killed by a cricket ball bouncer. It was an outstanding instance of the establishment proceeding to cover-up gross failures of adjudication. So readers should ask Phil hughes’ parents what they think of Taufel and others who were involvd in this work of ‘blanketing’.

My short answer is that Taufel placed Australian interests first in his overview then. So, too, now.

I will have to search for the relevant references for the Hughes story during the course of the coming week.


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3 responses to “The Bairstow Run-Out: Skandakumar’s Polite Challenge to Umpire Taufelef

  1. Joe Paiva

    I totally agree with Shanderrumar’s assessment.
    Carey’s infamous action was premeditated.
    Bairstow should have been given a fair prior warning.

  2. Daya Wickramatunga

    Rules of the game need to be followed,if not we would make a mockery of the rules.

  3. dickie bird

    Gentlemens game, that was initiated by the Countries the very gentlemen involved.
    Ashes blown away. Only the charred remains, remain.
    Qantas planes proudly carry the slogan “Spirit of Australia”
    The Spirit has evaporated, only Australia remains after this Run Out fiasco.
    Bairstow, can it be said that he attempted any unfair advantage though he was undisputedly at fault. However, “WHERE WAS THE SPIRIT” ?
    I recall a test where SL spinner & (Randive?) warned the english batsman (non Striker- Butler?) repeatedly to refrain leaving the crease to get an undue advantage of a quick single.
    After repeated warnings, he was run out at the bowler’s end.
    lo ! and behold, the british media went to town with that incident calling it unsportsmanship.
    In the SIPRIT of the game, Alex Carey should have warned OR Pat Cummins should have recalled Jonny Bairstow. NEITHER HAPPENED.
    It shows, todays game is played sans any SPIRIT.

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