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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2006, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Information key for restless fans
By Oliver Brett

Darren Gough and David Shepherd
Shepherd always enjoyed an excellent rapport with the players
Former Test umpire David Shepherd says the chaos after the Guwahati one-day international could have been averted if the officials had acted differently.

After play was finally abandoned without a ball bowled in the India v England match, the fans reacted by pelting police with bricks.

Shepherd told BBC Sport: "They must have been absolutely frustrated.

"But if they had been kept informed throughout and pre-warned they might have accepted it a bit better."

There have been complaints that fans were not kept abreast of proceedings as they waited for five hours until the match was officially abandoned.

Shepherd, who stood in 92 Tests and 172 one-day internationals, including three World Cup finals, said that was totally against protocol.

"The important thing is to keep the crowd informed as to what the situation is and whether there is likely to be any play or no play at all," he said.

I used to tell whoever was operating the tannoy: 'Look, you inform them'
Dickie Bird

"If there's no communication at all, that's poor. It's a basic problem."

And Dickie Bird, another famous former umpire, said: "I used to go and make sure the officials checked the tannoy system and I used to tell whoever was operating it: 'Look, you inform them."

Shepherd, 65, said the on-field officials would also have had an option to keep the fans out of the ground.

"The umpires would make an inspection of the ground, perhaps before the crowd even gets in," he explained.

"Then either let the crowd in if they think there's going to be any play or if they don't think there is going to be any play don't let them in at all.

"Don't let the crowd in until you are almost sure that play will take place."

Bird had personal memories of keeping fans out of Headingley all day on the Saturday of an England v Pakistan Test match.

So does an umpire have a way of defusing the tension, of trying to get edgy spectators on side?

Officials must be looked after, especially umpires visiting from other countries
David Shepherd

Shepherd said: "I've known captains do that.

"There was another match in India when they got Sourav Ganguly to speak to the crowd to keep them informed of what the situation was and not to let the unruly element develop.

"You only want a few hotheads and it spreads."

Despite umpiring in some tense situations - albeit nothing as bad as witnessed in Guwahati on Sunday - Shepherd said he had never felt threatened.

"Usually the security has been pretty good for umpires," he said.

"We're allocated a couple of guys to look after us and they usually do the job.

"Officials must be looked after, especially umpires who are always visiting from other countries and need to be looked after by the home nation."

PAST CROWD PROBLEMS

March 1996, Calcutta, India

Sri Lanka were awarded the 1996 World Cup semi-final against India by match referee Clive Lloyd after fans rioted just before the end.

Plastic bottles, fruit and stones were thrown onto the field, forcing the Sri Lankans to huddle in the middle of the pitch for safety, while fires were started in the stands.

In all, 100,000 fans were present. Effigies of Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin were burnt in Calcutta's streets after the game.

February 1998, Wellington, New Zealand

Stuart Law was hit in the face by a bottle as Australia completed a 66-run win over New Zealand in a one-day match.

Spectators among the crowd of 12,000 threw fruit, bottles and golf balls on to the pitch.

February 1999, Calcutta, India

Pakistan's win over India in the Asian Test championship followed crowd trouble over the final two days at Eden Gardens.

Some of the 91,000 fans at the ground threw bottles and fruit on to the pitch, chanting "cheats, cheats!" after Sachin Tendulkar was controversially run out on the fourth day.

Baton-wielding police cleared the ground of around 50,000 spectators after a long delay leaving Pakistan to complete a 46-run win in a near-empty stadium.

April 1999, Bridgetown, Barbados

After previous trouble in Georgetown in the same series, West Indies beat Australia to level the one-day international series 3-3.

But that only came about after Steve Waugh agreed to re-instate Sherwin Campbell following a run-out which sparked a riot.

June 2001, Headingley, England

England captain Alec Stewart, his team four runs away from certain defeat, conceded the triangular series match after a premature pitch invasion by Pakistan supporters ended with a steward needing hospital treatment.

That summer's triangular series was seriously affected by crowd trouble, including during the final celebrations when Michael Bevan was hit in the face by a full beer can.


SEE ALSO
Strauss understands fans' anger
09 Apr 06 |  England
Simon Mann's column
09 Apr 06 |  England
India grounds guide - Guwahati
11 Feb 06 |  Cricket
England in India 2006
08 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates


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