When Hansie Cronje and Allan Donald wore earpieces against India in the World Cup
Cricket has never shied away from using technology to ensure fairness in the game or improve the spectator experience. Although the game’s governing body – the International Cricket Council – has taken a conservative approach when it comes to the use of technology by players on the pitch, it took a stand when former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje and Allan Donald earpiece went out during 1999 World Cup against India.
South Africa head coach Bob Woolmer Taking a lesson from American sports, where it was common practice for players to wear earpieces to communicate with their coaches, South African head coach Bob Woolmer suggested that two senior Proteas players use the tool. This move was first carried out during the practice match of the World Cup, where it went unnoticed.
Hence, the trio of Woolmer, Cronje and Donald decided to use the earpiece during the first World Cup match against India. However, it didn’t take long for commentators to notice something unusual around the players’ ears when South Africa took the field in the first innings.
Soon, Indian openers Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar noticed the earpieces worn by Cronje and Donald and approached on-field umpires Steve Bucknor and David Shepherd at the start of the drink break.
The umpires spoke to Cronje who told him what was going on. However, the umpires could not decide whether the use of earpieces by South African players was illegal, and they contact match referee Talat Ali as play unfolded on the field. He too was unsure and approached the ICC on the legality of the use of earpieces during the match. The governing body said that the use of the device did not break any of their rules, but that it was an injustice to the other party.
Both the players were asked to remove the equipment and the use of such equipment was subsequently banned by the ICC.
South Africa won the match and Woolmer defended the move by using the earpiece, saying he was just trying to be innovative and didn’t intend to upset anyone. Woolmer said that he should have taken the permission of the ICC before proceeding with the move.
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