Very quietly, the Karnataka State Cricket Association has conducted an umpire’s exam. This was to select 12 people, 4 of who would be eventually selected to appear for a Ranji qualification. When there is so much space and time available to the media for cricket, this has made very little news.
That of course would not warrant much of a coverage, but maybe there is a possibility that in something as hush-hush as this, a little bit of discrepency somewhere is quite possible. Since there is not a single good umpire from India working internationally, processes like these should be verified. But you don’t find the journalists where they should be.
There has been this story going around that the umpiring exam here was an eye-wash. The various dignitaries in the KSCA apparently have a quota and they fill it as dictated by their voters. So a Dharwad or a Hubli can demand a seat regardless of the quality of their umpire just because they have voted an official into KSCA. Before this exam even began, the list of 12 candidates was supposedly ready. Again, the pattern was both corrupt and democratic, in that, every party was appeased.
Umpiring in the first-division of the KSCA league is not the easiest of jobs. For what it pays, most senior umpires opt for less-stressful junior grade matches or corporate ones. Officiating in league matches is not only a low-paying job, but in the higher divisions, it can get ugly. Foul-mouthed rants of arrogant “stars” is quite common.
Now, how true this exam story is, is not quite clear. But wouldn’t you bet more on it being true? Why isn’t this in the news? We have 24-hour news channels. We have newspapers who have online editions. We have Cricinfo. Even if we don’t crave for cricket news, scribes do; their editors do. Yet, the cricket coverage here is as if we are looking at a castle in the sky. A rich and bountiful structure somewhere in space and the camera never tilts down to show what lies beneath.
Even though the KSCA is not among the best-run boards, the issues here seem to be symptomatic of the larger Indian cricket malaise. There are the 15 players at the top who represent all the riches and glory of today, and there is this massive vaccume below which sucks out every ounce of fairness and revels in its anonymity.