Bucknor should quit: Bird

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Canberra, Jan 10 (UNI) Controversial West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor should have retired long ago, legendary former English official Dickie Bird asserted.

''He's gone on too long,'' Bird said amid a raging debate over the poor umpiring standards in the second Test at SCG.

Bucknor has been replaced by Billy Bowden for the third Test in Perth next week after a poor second Test in Sydney.

India has blamed Bucknor for losing the Test after being bowled out with just nine minutes remaining in the match.

Bird said it was time for Bucknor to retire from international cricket.

''When you get to that age ... I have said to Steve, 'don't go on too long, get out while you are still respected','' Bird said about the 61-year-old West Indian.

Bucknor has stood in a world record 120 Tests, but the former English umpire believes age has caught up with the Jamaican, one of the officials whose failure to correctly interpret bad light rules led to the farcical finish in darkness of the World Cup final in Barbados last April.

However, former Test greats Glenn McGrath and Clive Lloyd, South Africa coach Mickey Arthur and former Australia coach John Buchanan were all critical of the ICC's action over Bucknor.

Lloyd described Bucknor as a ''terrific'' umpire, and said the ICC's decision was a poor one.

''No-one is infallible, and no-one sets out to cheat batsmen.

Mistakes happen, however eagle-eyed the umpire is,'' the former West Indies captain was quoted as saying by the local media.

''Are we to get rid of umpires every time they make a bad decision? What will happen to (replacement umpire) Billy Bowden if he gets a decision wrong? Will they get rid of him, too?'' Arthur was also critical of the decision. ''They've set a bad precedent,'' he said.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed admitted Bucknor was ''the meat in the sandwich'' but said his removal at India's insistence did not set a dangerous precedent that allowed teams to demand the sacking of officials.

''What we have here is a unique situation. We've got allegations of racism, we have unhappiness with umpires, players being suspended, we've got an international incident that's running out of control,'' Speed told public radio.

''We need to get it back on track, one of the ways we can do that is to get a new umpiring team in place. I don't think we'll have those circumstances again. If we do, then it'll be dealt with at that time.'' The ICC lists 10 umpires on its elite panel but that includes Darrell Hair, who has not presided over a full international game since a Test at The Oval in August 2006.

Pakistan forfeited the match to England after refusing to play in protest at Hair's ball-tampering ruling and Pakistan successfully led an unjustifiable charge for Hair to be sacked from major matches.

Hair is currently undergoing a series of rehabilitation courses, before he is allowed to umpire Tests again.

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