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'Didn't expect the stand-off': BBL Pom apologises to ump, 'deeply regrets' controversial incident as ban upheld

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24th December, 2023
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Sydney Sixers import Tom Curran has apologised to umpire Muhammad Qureshi for his much-publicised clash before a recent BBL game, after his four-match suspension was upheld by Cricket Australia.

The Englishman was hit with the whopping ban after a heated clash with Qureshi before the team’s clash with the Hobart Hurricanes in Launceston on December 11.

Curran became involved in the altercation after completing a practice bowling run-up in which he ran onto the pitch.

He was instructed not to enter the pitch, then went to the other end to complete another practice run-up, in the process running directly at Qureshi who had moved to block his path.

The Sixers appealed the four-match sanction, but were unsuccessful.

In upholding the sanction, BBL general manager Alistair Dobson said it was ‘essential they [umpires] are respected and appreciated by players at all levels of the game’.

“Umpires are part of the lifeblood of cricket and it is essential they are respected and appreciated by players at all levels of the game,” Dobson said in a statement.

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“We acknowledge the remorse Tom’s shown following the appeal and look forward to seeing him back in Sixers colours. 

“Tom has been a long-time contributor to the BBL and is a clear fan-favourite and someone we hope will continue to play an integral role in the competition moving forward.”

In a statement, Curran apologised to Qureshi and said he was ‘genuinely sorry’ for the incident, while claiming his attempt to practice his run-up on the pitch was ‘part of my routine for every match’.

“I have had a lot of time to reflect on my actions and the incident that occurred in Launceston on December 11,” Curran said.

“Across my decade-long professional career I have always sought to have a friendly and respectful relationship with match officials, which I believe is reflected in the lack of prior code of conduct breaches across the world.

“Until the moment of the incident, my interactions with umpire Qureshi on December 11 commenced in a manner consistent with the rest of my professional career, we shared a laugh as he worked through his duties measuring bats in the changeroom.

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“My preparation for every fixture is deeply methodical and my focus is intense during the warm-up. Part of my preparation is to do a run-through and gauge my run-up on that particular surface. I’ve done this before every match and for me it’s part of my routine for every match.”

“The interaction with umpire Qureshi took me by surprise at a time when I was very focused on my pre-match routine. I didn’t expect the stand-off that resulted,” he said.

“I deeply regret the way I reacted to it and the resultant impact for umpire Qureshi, the Sydney Sixers and myself personally.

“My intention was always to veer off to umpire Qureshi’s right, in a similar way to my run up at the other end. I had never considered running into him and never considered that he would think that was my intention. However, on reflection, I should have repositioned my run up a metre or so to my left. I would not do the same if the situation arose again, and I am sorry.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I also could have approached umpire Qureshi during the fixture to discuss the interaction, hear his perspective and offer mine. I regret not doing this.

“I am genuinely sorry that I chose to continue to practice my run-up in the direction of umpire Qureshi and if he ever thought I sought to make physical contact with him.

“I would like to apologise to everyone that this has affected and thank those who have supported me through this incredibly difficult time, particularly Hannah Barnes, Greg Mail, Rachael Haynes and all of the Sixers’ players and staff.

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“I look forward to returning on January 3 in Coffs Harbour to do what I love and what I keep coming back to Australia to do and continue the season that we are having.”

Earlier, former Australian great Mark Waugh had called for Curran’s ban to be reduced.

While Waugh admitted the incident was ‘silly’, he believed a four-match suspension, which sidelines Curran until mid-January, is an excessive penalty for one of the BBL’s marquee stars.

It’s a Level 3 offence, intimidating an umpire,” Waugh said on Fox Cricket.

“It was silly, there was no need for it, but I think four games is a bit too much.

“For a marquee player, really good player… I would have given him two games and put him on a suspended sentence if he does it again. Then a more severe punishment.

“So yeah, I would say two games rather than four.”

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Another former Aussie great in Brad Hogg found fault in Qureshi’s conduct during the incident, saying the umpire seemed to be ‘looking for confrontation’ and should have done more to cool things down.

“Not Tom’s brightest moment but the umpires at fault to [sic],” Hogg wrote.

“Rather than walking closer to Tom in a non confrontational manner with a smile to de-escalate the situation he stood in an intimidating manner seeming [sic] looking for confrontation.”

Sixers captain Moises Henriques has also gone in to bat for Curran, claiming the ban amounts to character assassination.

Speaking before play began on Friday, Henriques said the playing group had rallied behind the English allrounder in the days since the incident.

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“It’s been a pretty tough time for TC (Curran) over the past 11 or 12 days sitting on this,” Henriques told Fox Cricket. “Knowing what he’s like, he’s taken this to heart and he’s really worried about the assassination of his character.

“(Umpire intimidation is) a big claim, so I’m wishing him the best.”

Henriques believed footage of the incident lacked context, and he was confused about the decision to impose such a long ban. “I’m very surprised,” he said. “We obviously don’t condone any untoward behaviour towards the umpire or any umpiring staff, but I still can’t quite understand the decision. 

“I just can’t help but think we haven’t quite understood the context of the altercation. (Curran) is a great man. He’s a real leader in the community, he’s a leader amongst our team. I’m still struggling to comprehend that penalty for what he’s done.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 08: Tom Curran of the Sixers bowls during the BBL match between Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Renegades at Sydney Cricket Ground on December 08, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Tom Curran. (Photo by Jason McCawley – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

The Sixers hope to have Curran back to face the Melbourne Stars on Boxing Day.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley refused to comment on the specifics of the incident when pressed on Friday, but warned players they needed to respect match officials.

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“My feeling is that players really need to respect the umpires and the match referees,” he said.

“I think that those processes are in place for good reason, and my overarching message to everybody, and this is not just at the elite level, but at the community level where many of the umpires and officials give their time as volunteers. 

“Respect is fundamental to the spirit of cricket and it’s fundamental to the laws of the game.

“Players are role models in society and it’s really important they show respect.”

© AAP

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