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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ex-umpire Dicki Bird says money has ruined cricket

Cricket's most famous umpire, Harold "Dickie" Bird, says the game has been damaged forever by the amount of money that is coming in.

Ten years after he retired, Dickie, 75, who umpired three World Cup finals and 66 Test matches, is depressed that the "greatest game in the world" has been so badly tarnished by the Allan Stanford scandal.

"It was right for the England and Wales Cricket Board to terminate all contractual links with Allen Stanford. But it is too late because the damage has already been done. It depresses me what has happened to the game I knew and was brought up with as a boy. Money has been the ruination of cricket," The Sun quoted Bird, as saying.

"I have always been an establishment man. I turned down a lot of money when Kerry Packer founded World Series Cricket in the Seventies. I also turned down the rebel tour to South Africa on principle as I opposed apartheid. So when I see these huge sums pouring into the game now I feel saddened," he added.

"When Sir Allen showed off the case with the 20 million dollars prize money for the West Indies and England winner-take-all game last year, Viv Richards and Ian Botham were beside him. They were all smiling, but when they pulled back the blanket to reveal the cash, I thought it was horrendous. I thought "there is something wrong here" and I have been proved right," Bird said.

He also said that the West Indies used to be so powerful and there are signs that they are coming back. But this is a terrible setback for them.

"Why can't we leave things alone? We need to return to some of the old traditions and principles," Bird said.

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