During the course of my largely unsuccessful attempt to draw Peter Willey into discussing some of the subtler aspects of umpiring – the editor thought that since he was no longer on the ICC payroll he might give it both barrels about various issues – I researched an article, on changing trends in the prevalence of lbw decisions, by Douglas Miller (a committee member at Bucks and someone who'd helped me a lot with my research on a Minor Counties book I'm working on) for the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians.
Despite Willey giving most of my questions short shrift, eventually forcing me to abandon the specialist 'Talking Cricket' interview and incorporate the better quotes into his Gleanings, I was able to use the research in a blog for ESPNcricinfo's The Cordon about umpiring bias, a slightly provocative title and an opportunity to have a pop at some of the ice-cream men who have brought frustration to my cricketing days. Not all of them, I hasten to add –and most of the ones that did were decent sports in the bar.
I emailed the article to Douglas, an umpire himself, and his reply was exquisite: "I
wish it were a fable that an umpire puts himself at risk when giving a
captain out, but it isn’t! For myself, I just wish I was a better
decision-maker. In the end that is key to success. I am off to our
Thames Valley dinner tonight, where I shall see some who were out, some
who should have been given out but weren’t and some who shouldn’t but
were – but none of us will be sure in which category they lie!"
The Bias of Umpires