Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and former ICC umpire Daryl Harper share a turbulent history. And the Australian umpire, who had to retire from the game after severe criticism from the Indian players following the 2011Kingston Test, has slammed Dhoni for blatantly and repeatedly disrespecting the Spirit of Cricket.
It’s a common refrain from the former elite umpire who had in 2011 also stated that the 'Indians were above laws of cricket'. He had at that time said the ICC's failure to take any action against Dhoni for criticising his decisions in the first Test against West Indies reflected the advent of "selective management" in cricket.
Reacting to the controversial decision against Jonny Bairstow, Harper believes England’s middle-order batsman was not out when the fielder held his catch, deflected through Gautam Gambhir’s helmet during the Mumbai Test.
“New accolades for M.S. Dhoni, the India skipper refused to withdraw an appeal when replays clearly showed that the ball had made contact with Gambhir’s helmet before he completed a catch to dismiss Bairstow,” the Dawn quoted Harper, as saying.
“It is a clear breach of the laws of cricket and any national captain worth his weight in salt would have immediately withdrawn the appeal and allowed Bairstow to continue his innings. But Dhoni is a repeated offender when it comes to ignoring the Spirit of Cricket,” he added.
“After the first Test, didn’t Dhoni make a thinly veiled disparaging remark about the umpires when he claimed that India had been forced to take more than ten wickets in England’s second innings?” the Australian said.
Harper added: “In Jamaica in 2011, this was the same captain who mumbled something obscure about being back in his hotel room earlier if the correct decisions had been made! What does the Spirit of Cricket mean when it refers to respect for opponents, officials and the game?”
“Clearly Dhoni is above the game, but his history of disrespect for the game continues to build,” he said with his tone dripping with sarcasm.
“For refusing to allow Bairstow to continue, I expect that Dhoni will now be felicitated for his gesture. Maybe it will be an MBE; Member of the Bullies Empire or simply an OBE; Often Belligerent to Everyone,” he added.
“After all, MS Dhoni is the Indian captain and India does provide an estimated 70% of the world’s cricket revenue doesn’t it?. The whole thing does have a distinctive ring about it! It’s another case of too many Indians and not enough chiefs,” he concluded.
Harper had clashed with Dhoni during India’s 2011 tour of West Indies and subsequently retired from umpiring following some heavy criticism from the Indian team after the first cricket Test between India and the West Indies.
At the time he had admitted that he committed errors while officiating in the first Test between India and the West Indies but said Indian players too did not play in the spirit of the game.
Harper had sarcastically said that he should not have applied the laws of cricket to them.
"I didn't have my best game of the year but referee Jeff Crowe, who observed every ball, calculated that I had managed to get 94% of all my decisions correct. That analysis was confirmed from headquarters in our Dubai office," Harper said about the series-opener, which India won by 63 runs.