Poor and dodgy umpiring decisions have caught headlines pretty frequently in the cricket world in recent times. In 2019 alone there have been a handful of instances with poor umpiring – the Indian Premier League and the T20I series between Bangladesh and West Indies being the ones that became talking points.
Unfortunately, though, substandard umpiring has followed into the ongoing ICC World Cup 2019 in England as well. The match between Australia and West Indies at Trent Bridge was marred by a series of poor umpiring decisions with one of them being an outright howler. Chris Gaffaney and Ruchira Palliyaguruge, the on-field umpires for the match, were guilty of getting two decisions overturned per head. The most noticeable one, however, was by Gaffaney who missed an apparent no-ball call off Mitchell Starc – just the ball before the fast bowler dismissed Chris Gayle. Had the correct request been made, Gayle wouldn’t have been dismissed as that delivery would have then been a free-hit.
Gayle was in the line of fire of both the umpires throughout his short stay at the wicket. The left-handed opener was given out thrice and then went on to have all three overturned after reviewing them.
West Indies went on to lose the match by 15 runs. But the glaring errors by both the umpires did not go down well with the West Indians and fans all over social media.
West Indian all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite was left fuming after the match and couldn’t hold back his frustration at his team being the receiving end of the umpiring errors.
“I don’t know if I’ll be fined for saying it, but I think that the umpiring was a bit frustrating. Even when we were bowling, we thought a few balls close to head height were called wides. And three decisions in one over as far as I can remember being dodgy, it was frustrating and sent ripples through the dressing room,” Braithwaite was quoted as saying to the press after the match.
Brathwaite wasn’t the only one who was annoyed. Former West Indian fast bowling legend Michael Holding slammed the umpires too.
“I am sorry, but the umpiring in this game has been atrocious,” Holding said in his commentary stint during the TV broadcast for the match. “For one, even when I was playing, and they were not as strict as they are now, you were allowed one appeal. You don’t appeal two, three, four times to the umpire. That is the first thing. They are being intimidated (by Australia’s appealing), that means they are weak. This has been an atrocious bit of umpiring by both.”
One can understand where these harsh words are coming from. The advancements in technology over the past decade have made things much easier for the modern day cricket umpire. And yet, it is befuddling why the third umpire can’t step in when there is an apparent incorrect no-ball call made by the on-field umpires. What exactly stops the TV umpire from overturning every wrong call being made despite not being called for? Isn’t it more relevant to eliminate poor decisions for the overall betterment of the game or to adhere to rules?
One hopes that the ICC seriously mulls over this matter and gives the third umpire a free hand over the use of the technology available to ensure as many correct decisions are made as possible. After all, a real and fair game is what is needed. Otherwise, we will keep getting needless umpiring controversies time and again which will ruin the air even in a prestigious tournament like the World Cup.