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Cricket controversies: Colin Croft vs Fred Goodall

Updated on July 4, 2011
A smiling Croft denies deliberately hitting umpire Frank Goodall.
A smiling Croft denies deliberately hitting umpire Frank Goodall.
Croft during the incident involving Goodall. Where is that happy face Colin?
Croft during the incident involving Goodall. Where is that happy face Colin?

The 1980/81 West Indies tour of New Zealand is regarded as the most acrimonious tours of all. The contention was the incompetent officiating by the home umpires - particularly one Fred Goodall.

This was the era before the ICC Elite panel and "neutral umpires." Umpires came from the home country; poor officiating was usually seen as bias in favour of the home side.

The low-point of that series came in the second Test match at Napier, when the West Indies considered quitting the tour. In the previous match, Michael Holding splayed the stumps with his right leg after an appeal was turned down. Indeed, the entire West Indies team had problems with the officiating. Colin Croft's incident was one better than Holding's for notoriety though.

Colin Croft was bowling to Richard Hadlee; Fred Goodall was the standing umpire. Croft sent a short ball down the leg-side to the left-handed batsmen. Hadlee appeared to glove the ball to wicketkeeper Deryck Murray. The West Indians appealed; Goodall said not out. Croft walked back to his mark, muttering something to the umpire.

After turning down a confident appeal, Goodall no-balled the burly West Indian fast bowler for the following delivery - rubbing salt into a fresh, open wound. Croft disturbed the bails at the non-striker's end, showing his disgust with the pint-sized New Zealand umpire.

Although he was bowling wide of the crease immediately before, the bowler changed his approach for the next delivery. Just before entering his delivery stride, his elbow extended and bounced the umpire's shoulder. Goodall immediately walked over to West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, who was rather nonchalant about the issue.

Commenting on the incident decades later, Colin Croft (as a cricket commentator) said that Goodall was merely in his way. Indeed, Fred Goodall was also an obstacle to good umpiring in that series. Even then New Zealand captain Geoff Howarth stated that while he didn't think Goodall was a cheat, the poor guy was out of his depth.

Colin Croft took 125 wickets from 27 Test matches between 1977 and 1982. He later became a radio/television cricket commentator and a sports journalist, all that while being a licensed pilot and a maths teacher. Just don't get on his wrong side; he might just barge into you accidentally.


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