With Sri Lanka moving up in the World Cup tournament the interest in
cricket here has heightened, but thankfully not to the passionate
levels, leading to mob violence of increased passion as in India or
Pakistan. The media criticism of umpiring in the UK after England's
defeat to Sri Lanka in that thrilling, nail-biting finish last
Wednesday, shows that even in the colder climes of the stiff upper lip,
passions can run high about cricket, to levels not usually expected in
But the interest in cricket and umpiring during this World Cup comes
from a source far removed from the usual commentators on the game.
Amnesty International, labelled a Human Rights Watchdog, has suddenly
discovered the importance of being a self-appointed umpire trying to
teach the Sri Lanka Government and the LTTE about the importance of
playing by the rules, and has found the World Cup venues in the West
Indies as the place to practice their new found skill in umpiring.
'Howzaat' asked Shane Dangapandu sipping his favourite blend of pot
and still at the regular watering hole. "When did Amnesty International
begin its school for training umpires?"
"They have no need for training, because they think they are born to
umpire in any game, and having missed the chance to show their skills in
the Soccer World Cup last year, they have come to make their display at
the Cricket World Cup at the Windies," said Sachin Pithiharamba, filling
up a stein with his favourite ale.
"But what their Asia Pacific pundit Tim Parritt says is that the two
sides in the Sri Lankan crisis are not playing by the game, and just
like in cricket there is the need for an independent umpire, to teach
them how to play by rules," said Shane Dangapandu.
"Parritt or Parrot, and Amnesty may think they are God's own gift to
the world of umpiring, but they don't seem to know the basics about it,"
said Wasim Veygapandu, whose knowledge of cricket was several decades
"What are these basics?" asked Sobers Pithiprahaara.
"Let me explain," intervened Romesh Rakinakadulu, before Wasim could
respond. "It's very simple. The umpires in cricket or referees in soccer
or rugby can be independent only when they come in with the consent of
both teams. If Amnesty does not know that, how can they claim to be
"That's interesting," said Donald Kriketkeerthi. "If Amnesty or this
Parritt guy talks of teaching both sides to play by the rules, how the
hell are they trying to teach those bloody players from the Vanni about
the rules of the game? For all we know the only rules they know are
those laid down by their Sooriyadeivan or Sun God. We don't see any team
from that side playing in the Windies; they were not seen in the warm up
"All the while the Vanni Bloods have been playing by their own rules.
In fact just when Amnesty launched its ball game in the Windies, there
was the claymore bomb blast at Ampara. I wonder if that was playing by
the rules taught by Amnesty," said Sunil Pithipatabendi.
"Is it possible that Amnesty is conducting secret classes in 'Playing
by the Rules' to the Suicide Teams in the Vanni, on the decorum to be
followed in carrying out suicide killer missions," asked Shane
"With all this talk of independent umpiring and teaching others how
to play by the rules, I'm somewhat puzzled to know what the hell Amnesty
was doing about teaching the Bush-Cheney Team in the USA about playing
by the rule in Iraq, or that hell-hole they continue to maintain at
Guantanamo," said Sobers Pithiprahaara.
"Yeah, that's very interesting. Obviously Amnesty is in the 'See No
Evil' 'Hear No Evil' mode about those departures from the rules of play,
and bending the rules to breaking point at Abu Ghraib in Iraq" said
"Yeah, we have not read or heard of them getting tennis balls signed
in protest about Bush and Co's double standards in democracy when Serena
Williams plays tennis at Wimbledon, or throwing any protest golf balls
on to the putting greens when Tiger Woods or any other Americans play at
All American or international tournaments," said Wasim Veygapandu.
"Hey, read this story" said Mustaq Hayepahara reading from an
Internet printout. This was just reported by Al Jazeera. "It says the
Vanni Tigers have sent a whole package of live claymore bombs to Amnesty
International to be distributed freely at the World Cup in the Windies,
to show their appreciation of what Amnesty is doing for them over
"I'm sure Amnesty will agree that the Vanni Bloods always plays by
the rules; their own Bloody Rules," said Romesh Rakinakadulu.
"Don't you think it is time to shout 'Umpire Hora'" asked Shane
Dangarapandu. The response to this was full-throated shouts of 'Umpire
Hora, Umpire Hora" by all present at the watering hole.