February 11, 2013

ICC Women's World Cup 2013

Don't just ignore these umpiring blunders

Alison Mitchell
Tremayne Smartt breaks into a dance after picking up a wicket, New Zealand v West Indies, Super Six match, Women's World Cup 2013, Mumbai,  February 11, 2013
Tremayne Smartt enjoys a victory jig, but when it came to smart the umpiring was a little lacking  © ICC/Solaris Images
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West Indies are known to be more unpredictable and dangerous with bat than with ball, but they managed to defend 207 for 9 in the Super Sixes to clock their first ever ODI win over New Zealand. It was a total which, if you believe the record books, the White Ferns should have been able to chase down. But records have been thrown out of the window in this tournament, first by Sri Lanka upsetting both England and India, and now by West Indies who suddenly have a good chance of making their first ever World Cup final against Australia.

New Zealand were on the wrong end of three poor lbw decisions in their chase. During the post-match presentation, captain Suzie Bates chose not to mention the umpiring, unlike Charlotte Edwards who commented after England lost to Sri Lanka that “poor shots and a couple of bad decisions cost us.”

In this particular match though, New Zealand's batter Sophie Devine got a big inside edge on to her pad but was given out lbw to Tremayne Smartt when it took only one replay for those of us in the commentary box both to hear an obvious sound and see that it was bat first then pad.

The inside edge had, in fact, been detectable live, via the stump mic, to which the third umpire also has access. There is no DRS at this World Cup, meaning Devine had no way of questioning the decision.

In televised games though, the third umpire is now directed to check for a no ball after every wicket has fallen. Instructions read: “If the delivery was not a fair delivery, the third umpire shall advise the on-field umpire by two-way radio, who should recall the dismissed batter, indicate that the batter is not out and signal no ball.”

As the umpire has been instructed to check the replay anyway, surely it would have been easy enough – in this particular instance anyway – for the third umpire to radio through to the on-field umpire that there was a clear and obvious inside edge and allow the on-field umpire to call the batter back, in the same way that they would if they had belatedly spotted a no ball. Dead ball could be signalled and the delivery bowled again, or the delivery could be counted and the batter would keep any runs gained, should a single have been scampered.

Of course, the interpretation of what is ‘clear and obvious’ could produce some lively debates – but then the debate would be no more than what exists already around Hot Spot. I have sat in many a commentary box watching a Hot Spot replay when one person claims they can see a white spot on a bat, while someone else is convinced there is nothing.

Ultimately, the third umpire has the final say with what information he transmits back to the field, and with a bit of common sense and cricket experience mixed in, everyone is much closer to a correct decision being reached.

It used to be the case that when on-field umpires called upon the third umpire to check whether a catch carried, that was the ONLY thing the TV umpire could judge on. It made the decision look ridiculous when people watching at home could clearly see that the ball hadn’t come off bat or glove, yet the 3rd umpire wasn’t allowed to point that out to his colleague.

Nowadays, the regulations carry a helpful and sensible clause, stating: “When reviewing the television replay, if it is clear to the third umpire that the batter did not hit the ball, they shall indicate the batter is not out.” The checking of a no ball after an lbw could easily carry a similar clause referring to a clear inside edge.

* * *

I had another extra-curricular treat the other day as I paid a visit to Bombay Gymkhana to catch the All Balls Rugger Revue 2013. What is this? You may well ask.

Bollywood actor/director Rahul Bose is a member of the Bombay Gym and had a hand in writing as well as performing a series of comedy sketches in the rugby section’s end-of-season jamboree.

A huge sound stage had been erected on the playing fields in front of the clubhouse, and we were entertained by a number of top-class performers. In the words of the programme, the script was “written, acquired, stolen and plagiarised” by TV personality Kunal Vijayakar, comedian Cyrus Broacha and Bollywood producer Deven Khote as well as Bose.

Considerable kudos must go to members of the 1st XV rugby team, who made up the backing dancers and appeared occasionally in drag. The style of humour was…. Well, let’s just say I’m glad my mum wasn’t watching! The programme made no apology, suggesting that, “the enjoyment of the show is directly proportionate to the amount of alcohol consumed”. Luckily there was an outdoor bar within reach, but I think we would have been in stitches nevertheless.

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Posted by avs on (February 15, 2013, 17:53 GMT)

1. Sport is played to WIN. If the rule says 'winning is getting 1st innings lead'; then that is exactly what every sportsperson should focus on - and achieve.

2. Giving opposition a chance to win can not be a part of the sport mindset. In zero-sum-situations, your focus is to get as much good to yourself / your team as possible - at the specific expense of the opposition. That is the 'play'. Period.

3. Confusion is probably because we equate 'good for Cricket' with 'good for TV revenues'. Certain pursuits like sports, music, painting, philosophy, parenting....) are indulged in because the pursuers are hardwired to those pursuits - whether or not there is a TV audience and commercial pay-offs. (eg. Shooting will be an Olympic sport despite negligible TV audiences/ revenues).

4. Let us not equate expectations from a cricket match to that from a H/Bollywood movie - a song, good looking guy, fight, build-up, climax, audience at the edge of the seats ! Hello.. go see a Bond movie.

Posted by Chetan Asher on (February 15, 2013, 15:46 GMT)

DRS should be scrapped. 3rd Umpire engagement should be automatic on appeal & The rule from ICC should read - "1. TV Umpire takes ownership of calling a no-ball for over-stepping OR height. 2. When checking the replay, the TV Umpire must validate that there are no visible errors - including, but not limited to edges for LBW, misses for caught behind, bounce for catches......" That would allow umpires to actually focus on LBW.

Posted by Balaji on (February 14, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

The 3rd umpire should point out cases where he can identify howlers in only two viewings. If he requires a 3rd look, its not a howler anyway. I think this is the point being made by the author. It should be put in place to eliminate absolute howlers. If I remember correctly, Ian Chappell also correctly made this point in one of his recent articles.

Posted by Russ on (February 13, 2013, 4:15 GMT)

Erskine - with a powerful name like that your should be able to read and comprehend that Alison is of English/Australian decent....and your assumption is haywire to say the least. The match was played on a neutral venue with neutral incompetant umpires. She is not taking anything away from the West Indian girls but pointing out that the umpires were just plain incompetant or overawed by the occasion and have given bad decisions not only in these matches but right throughout the tournament......on another day the West Indian girls would be at the receiving end of bad decisions which does not mean that the umpires are biased, just plain inefficient and should never be allowed to officiate at a World cup. Get the best for a top ranking event and let the girls win on their skills alone.

Posted by rameez on (February 12, 2013, 23:43 GMT)

I think Pakistan and India women players should make more efforts in cricket.We must learn from defeat.I am really impressed for this site.I daily get updates for matches in this site. Thanks ESPN..........

Posted by Richard Crockford on (February 12, 2013, 11:44 GMT)

Hi Allison, im really not sure that giving extra responsibility to the third umpire in that sort of way is a good, or feasible idea. Something similar was tried for the Australian Ryobi Cup this year and it caused absolute chaos forcing the idea to be abandoned after a few weeks. For the womens world cup I think it would have been far better for the televised matches to have drs (cant see why its not with hawkeye in place and it being an ICC event) and then proper training in how to use it given. Decisions being overturned on flimsy unclear 'evidence' involving possible noises and phantom hotspots as happened the first South Africa v Pakistan test is probably the main reason why India is still blocking it. Leave it in the hands of the captain, at least then if an incorrect decision is not reviewed then there is no fall out. As would be the case if the 3rd umpire failed to review it.

Posted by mary brito on (February 12, 2013, 3:49 GMT)

regret will not be in Mumbai to watch the semi finals and final. Very disappointed having attended the previous 9 world cup comps. Did not give the Indian High commission enough time to process my Application. Hope the remaining games are as exciting as at least 4 I have followed ball by ball. Must admit not too happy with thelast NZ game Regards Mary Brito

Posted by Damian123 on (February 12, 2013, 3:25 GMT)

Alison, I quite enjoy your commentary. I think even the other lbw is not out. The impact was outside the off-stump. Unfortunately no one picked that one up, including some very experienced commentators! I would like you to re-check it & post your comments here.

Posted by Russ on (February 12, 2013, 1:40 GMT)

Absolutely spot on......It is a World Cup at stake and it needs umpires who are good enough to officiate at a World Cup and not at an IPL or BPL standard..Some of these umpires are from countries not even playing top grade cricket.....Get the best to do the job or give it to competent women.......As I read elsewhere, Are there women umpires ? Why can't women umpires do the Women's World Cup matches....have umpires always got to be male?....sorry mates, if men are not good enough give it to the women and I am sure there will be women good enough to do the job even when men play. They are officiating in most other sports.

Posted by Sidhant on (February 11, 2013, 17:29 GMT)

These umpires should also be penalized for these poor decisions or atleast get the DRS into act.

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