August 2, 2013

Why Dharmasena gave Khawaja out

Let us compile a list of the most implausible reasons shall we?
27

Dharmasena wants to make sure the law of averages isn't disproved by technology © BCCI

Possible reasons third umpire Kumar Dharmasena ruled Australian batsman Usman Khawaja out on review during day one of the third Test of the Ashes from Old Trafford include:

  • He wasn't allowed to use Snicko
  • He doesn't trust Hot Spot, considering it new-fangled elec-trickery
  • He doesn't trust his eyes nor his ears
  • He didn't want to disagree with the on-field umpire, thinking it might be rude
  • He was watching Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon
  • He was crocheting a massive throw rug
  • He had nipped out to buy the newspaper and cigarettes
  • He had been kidnapped by extremists and his body replaced with a felafel
  • He'd had a drug overdose and was "on the nod", brought back to life only after an injection of adrenaline into his heart, like that bit in Pulp Fiction
  • He hit the wrong button
  • He is not actually a Test cricket umpire but rather a plumber from Hull
  • He agreed Khawaja was out

Granted, none of these make any sense. Dharmasena's made a howler in a system that uses technology to specifically erase howlers. He's watched 30-odd slow-motion replays and decided nothing he's seen contradicted the umpire. I mean… where to start?

For mine, Dharmasena made the error because, under pressure, in the heat of the moment, watching so many replays, he decided he could not find any over-arching reason to overrule the on-field umpire's decision.

To Dharmasena, see, there was nothing he could definitively "see" or "hear" that made the umpire's decision definitively, absolutely wrong. There was no smoking gun, there was no evidence that leapt out at him and screamed "NOT OUT!" The man on the field made a decision and nothing contradicted that.

I mean, that must be it, mustn't it?

And being a staunch pedant for the Laws - as umpires are, it is a Thing - Dharmasena went with the on-field umpire's decision. And compounded a mistake with another, much bigger mistake. A mistake that was just so wrong because of the technology and the many replays afforded the man in the chair. The man on the ground, that's understandable. But the man who's just watched 30 replays? To still get it wrong?

I mean… how?

Dharmasena didn't count as evidence Hot Spot showing that there was no white-hot mark on the edge of the bat. He didn't count the vision of the bat brushing Khawaja's leg and causing the one noise heard on the effects microphone. He didn't count vision of the ball not deviating off the bat.

Nope. He played it back slowly. And in real time. Heard a "snick". Saw the England fielders all go up and charge umpire Tony Hill - one of the main reasons Khawaja was fired in the first place - and fired Khawaja again.

I say again… how? Even, what?

The Decision Review System's been in the news because of players making errors. And field umpires making errors. Which are both understandable. So we try to make the game "perfect" and take the human-error element out of it. And doesn't the DRS - i.e. the decision being thrown to a third umpire with the benefit of replays and technology - get most decisions right? It's not perfect. But doesn't it ultimately get more right than the human on the first go? Doesn't it?

But when the actual third umpire, the human being, the one who watches thirtysomething slow-motion replays, when that guy gets it so spectacularly, obviously wrong, well, what do you do except write a smart-arse list of things he must have been doing while he should have been giving Khawaja not out?

To wit:

  • Rather than adjudicating on the review, he was actually telling a persistent autograph hunter to leave - "Out!"

  • Botox therapy had temporarily paralysed his entire body

  • He was watching a replay of Shane Watson's dismissal

  • He was watching a replay of Stuart Broad's dismissal

  • He fosters a deep-seated hatred for Usman Khawaja

  • He thinks DRS means Dharmasena's Ref, Seeya

  • He wants to be known as an umpire - and as a man - who has no doubt

  • He doesn't want to be a Test cricket umpire any more

Matt Cleary writes for several Australian sports and travel magazines. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 7, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    this is really disrespectful for a good umpire like Kumar Dharmasena who received the Umpire of the year award in the last ICC Awards and who is a human being even though he watched 30 or 300 replays.

  • Naseer on August 4, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    some more reasons: 1- There is contract between Tony hill and Darmasena, both have agreed that none will overturn each other's decision when they are on the chair of 3rd Umpire. 2- Dharmasena is totally against DRS, and he somehow wants to ensure that this system is total failure. 3- he was probably angry on Khwaja for playing such poor shot in an Ashes test, so he wanted to give the young batsman a lesson!

  • PONCBE2005 on August 4, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    Matt, between you and Andrew Hughes, you have probably driven in the last nail on the DRS--Rest in Peace DRS, except that as usual, in their usual ditherings, the BCCI has helped the DRS phoenix rise. I hope BCCI reads your articles. Great work, you two...

  • johnathonjosephs on August 4, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    I don't understand why so many people still don't understand what the third umpire can and can not do. When referring a decision, it is not like a run out that is referred where the third umpire makes the final call. When a decision is referred, the third umpire only tells information like "if hot spot is showing anything" or if "there is a noise" or any other pertinent information. The onfield umpire who then made the call then decides whether this is enough information to overturn the decision. It may have very well been Dharmasena's fault, but most likely, the fault lies with Tony Hill. I love how there are debates these days about whether technology should be used or not. One must first understand the technology before debating about it. Get educated people

  • yunaimin on August 3, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    I don't want Dharmasena to be a Test cricket umpire any more.

  • 123Hitz on August 3, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    i agree with @Lalindu Peiris.. He must have pressed the wrong button

  • ladycricfan on August 3, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Hotspot is not reliable. It is confusing umpires thinking. Once the decision goes to the 3rd umpire, he should make his own decision and relay it on the screen like run outs and stumpings.

  • tickcric on August 3, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    Responsibility lies with one who has the authority. Dharmasena as a 3rd umpire was only an aid to Tony Hill in this decision. This is in direct contrast to a lbw referral, where the 3rd umpire can overrule the on-field umpire's decision if all the conditions are met. Dharmasena could not overrule he could only reply to Tony Hill's queries. Imo here in lies a major problem with regards to Hot Spot related referrals, another being the technology itself. The problem is, the 3rd umpire in this case is used to address the queries of the on-field umpire and not necessarily to take the right call. We will never know how far Dharmasena is responsible for the decision unless we know more about the conversation between Hill & him!

  • on August 3, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    i think there was a lot of doubt in this decision, as there was not a bit of the mark appeared in DRS.why was the decision been refered to the 3rd Umpires if they don't have the confidence on such latest technology. I think there should be some new laws made by ICC so such umpires may be questioned after such pooooooooooor decisions...............

  • ihaq1 on August 3, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    how would it be cricket if umpires did not make mistakes...it has more to do with the the australian cricket boards picking another failure as a batsman after forrest, cowan,warner, watson, hughes...in series where non batsmen succeede...thou too brutus...

  • on August 7, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    this is really disrespectful for a good umpire like Kumar Dharmasena who received the Umpire of the year award in the last ICC Awards and who is a human being even though he watched 30 or 300 replays.

  • Naseer on August 4, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    some more reasons: 1- There is contract between Tony hill and Darmasena, both have agreed that none will overturn each other's decision when they are on the chair of 3rd Umpire. 2- Dharmasena is totally against DRS, and he somehow wants to ensure that this system is total failure. 3- he was probably angry on Khwaja for playing such poor shot in an Ashes test, so he wanted to give the young batsman a lesson!

  • PONCBE2005 on August 4, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    Matt, between you and Andrew Hughes, you have probably driven in the last nail on the DRS--Rest in Peace DRS, except that as usual, in their usual ditherings, the BCCI has helped the DRS phoenix rise. I hope BCCI reads your articles. Great work, you two...

  • johnathonjosephs on August 4, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    I don't understand why so many people still don't understand what the third umpire can and can not do. When referring a decision, it is not like a run out that is referred where the third umpire makes the final call. When a decision is referred, the third umpire only tells information like "if hot spot is showing anything" or if "there is a noise" or any other pertinent information. The onfield umpire who then made the call then decides whether this is enough information to overturn the decision. It may have very well been Dharmasena's fault, but most likely, the fault lies with Tony Hill. I love how there are debates these days about whether technology should be used or not. One must first understand the technology before debating about it. Get educated people

  • yunaimin on August 3, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    I don't want Dharmasena to be a Test cricket umpire any more.

  • 123Hitz on August 3, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    i agree with @Lalindu Peiris.. He must have pressed the wrong button

  • ladycricfan on August 3, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Hotspot is not reliable. It is confusing umpires thinking. Once the decision goes to the 3rd umpire, he should make his own decision and relay it on the screen like run outs and stumpings.

  • tickcric on August 3, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    Responsibility lies with one who has the authority. Dharmasena as a 3rd umpire was only an aid to Tony Hill in this decision. This is in direct contrast to a lbw referral, where the 3rd umpire can overrule the on-field umpire's decision if all the conditions are met. Dharmasena could not overrule he could only reply to Tony Hill's queries. Imo here in lies a major problem with regards to Hot Spot related referrals, another being the technology itself. The problem is, the 3rd umpire in this case is used to address the queries of the on-field umpire and not necessarily to take the right call. We will never know how far Dharmasena is responsible for the decision unless we know more about the conversation between Hill & him!

  • on August 3, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    i think there was a lot of doubt in this decision, as there was not a bit of the mark appeared in DRS.why was the decision been refered to the 3rd Umpires if they don't have the confidence on such latest technology. I think there should be some new laws made by ICC so such umpires may be questioned after such pooooooooooor decisions...............

  • ihaq1 on August 3, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    how would it be cricket if umpires did not make mistakes...it has more to do with the the australian cricket boards picking another failure as a batsman after forrest, cowan,warner, watson, hughes...in series where non batsmen succeede...thou too brutus...

  • Omarrz on August 3, 2013, 6:00 GMT

    And guess who received the Umpire of the year award in the last ICC Awards?

  • on August 3, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Well, I would say, go back to home umpires and let them enjoy. Use technology just to see how partial the umpires can be and give ratings for the partiality every umpire can do. The home country board should reword them

    Now here why people are excluding spot fixing by third umpire? They are also humans and they also have family to look after

  • sfarazi on August 3, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    Why should his on-field umpiring affect his umpiring as a 3rd umpire? An umpire is an umpire who is supposed to give the most accurate decision whether it be on-field or in front of a screen. He may be a good umpire but he certainly bungled up a decision that people at home (and even those who don't watch cricket) could see was not out. Even an English supporter would have given it out had he/she been in the same position as Dharmasena - that's how blatantly obvious that NOT OUT really was.

  • on August 3, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    I think empire Dharmasena is useless person. I have noticed many time he has given wrong decision and players have suffered. Most regretably he gave out Sachin Tendulkar LBW in Sri Lanka on 99 when he was actually not out. On few occassion I noticed that his decision was over ruled by DRS; what it suggest? He should be removed permanently as empire from all international matches.

  • on August 3, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Matt, I mean clearly, you could see that coming, couldn't you? I don't understand what's all the fuss about? Anyone who knows a little bit about Dharmasena as an umpire would expect such howlers from him and just move on, till ICC endures with him as an umpire.

  • on August 3, 2013, 4:58 GMT

    If you want to criticize the umpire then I want to bring something to your notice. Because he is from asia, Because he is adjudicated as the best umpire and you people from westrn worlddon't like him. Imagine if the same thing done by one of your umpire then will you say the same thing? I am sure the answer will be no. I know, How bizarre Steve Buckner is, When he umpired in 2009 series when India toured Aus.At that time no one commented on him. What is your answer for that? Even though the decision is went to the third Umpire still he blindly gave symonds as not out. Don't you think it is a double standard of behavior. Why didn't you comment on stuard Broad's behavior? Don't ever dare to comment on Umpire.

  • on August 3, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    i'm disagree, according to DRS system if the decision give by the third umpire it display on the screen. at this situation Dharmasens gave information to the filed umpire watching all the reviews then its up to field umpire make decision correct or carry on with his original decision.

  • on August 3, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    There is nothing to talk this much. Remember in 1993-95, how bad Australian umpires were. Remember , Darrel Heir? Australians dominated the cricket thanks to their umpires. So, no need to shout on this too much. All the world know Australians are very bias and dodgy on sport as well as everything. So, accept the truth and calm down.

  • on August 3, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    I think the one thing everyone discounted was the bat speed. Kwaja had a full blooded drive at it. Okay, the ball is coming through at 57mph, but add a full blooded drive at it, if there had been the most tiniest of feather edges, the friction from the ball and rapid bat speed in the opposite direction to the ball almost inevitably would have produced a mark. Does Dharma have any education in physics? Or did his education consist of getting hit by the school bus once?

  • on August 3, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    Ha ha ha ha nice one trust me for the first time i have read an english article as much deeply and enjoyed thanks mr matt one of the worst decisions i have seen given all the tech and time he used. poor khawaja this cud have been a career making innings for him as the conditions were not as tough. but not to be he has pressure on him to make a defining score soon

  • kennyg on August 2, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    This Ashes series has exposed the human flaws with the use of the DRS; a system/technology created to elimnate "HOWLERS" of decisions made by the onfield umpires. Instead, we see the third umpire supporting the howler made by his compatriot, the onfield umpire. Indeed it is a sad reflection of the rules and regulations surrounding DRS with little or no direction from the ICC. At the current rate, howlers will continue and made even worse by the third umpitres interpretation.

  • markofcaloundra on August 2, 2013, 22:38 GMT

    We can now expect that Erasmus, Dharmasema and Hill will be dropped from the elite test panel, with no reviews left.

  • HUJ_MA on August 2, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    Ha ha ha ha nice one trust me for the first time i have read an english article as much deeply and enjoyed thanks mr matt

  • Thefakebook on August 2, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    Hahhaha You know its really funny cause its true?? What else could be the reason?

  • mredz84 on August 2, 2013, 18:29 GMT

    one of the worst decisions i have seen given all the tech and time he used. poor khawaja this cud have been a career making innings for him as the conditions were not as tough. but not to be he has pressure on him to make a defining score soon.and i believe its falafel not felafel;)

  • on August 2, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    I guess he hit the wrong button :)

  • sharidas on August 2, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    I am one of those people who did not see the match on TV. The information that I have, is what I read in cricinfo. From what I have seen and watched in the past, Dharmasena is a good on-field umpire. Perhaps that itself was the reason , he gave Khawaja out. I think, it is better that an on-field umpire, is NOT made a third umpire, as there is every chance that he is influenced by the on-field decision.

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  • sharidas on August 2, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    I am one of those people who did not see the match on TV. The information that I have, is what I read in cricinfo. From what I have seen and watched in the past, Dharmasena is a good on-field umpire. Perhaps that itself was the reason , he gave Khawaja out. I think, it is better that an on-field umpire, is NOT made a third umpire, as there is every chance that he is influenced by the on-field decision.

  • on August 2, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    I guess he hit the wrong button :)

  • mredz84 on August 2, 2013, 18:29 GMT

    one of the worst decisions i have seen given all the tech and time he used. poor khawaja this cud have been a career making innings for him as the conditions were not as tough. but not to be he has pressure on him to make a defining score soon.and i believe its falafel not felafel;)

  • Thefakebook on August 2, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    Hahhaha You know its really funny cause its true?? What else could be the reason?

  • HUJ_MA on August 2, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    Ha ha ha ha nice one trust me for the first time i have read an english article as much deeply and enjoyed thanks mr matt

  • markofcaloundra on August 2, 2013, 22:38 GMT

    We can now expect that Erasmus, Dharmasema and Hill will be dropped from the elite test panel, with no reviews left.

  • kennyg on August 2, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    This Ashes series has exposed the human flaws with the use of the DRS; a system/technology created to elimnate "HOWLERS" of decisions made by the onfield umpires. Instead, we see the third umpire supporting the howler made by his compatriot, the onfield umpire. Indeed it is a sad reflection of the rules and regulations surrounding DRS with little or no direction from the ICC. At the current rate, howlers will continue and made even worse by the third umpitres interpretation.

  • on August 3, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    Ha ha ha ha nice one trust me for the first time i have read an english article as much deeply and enjoyed thanks mr matt one of the worst decisions i have seen given all the tech and time he used. poor khawaja this cud have been a career making innings for him as the conditions were not as tough. but not to be he has pressure on him to make a defining score soon

  • on August 3, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    I think the one thing everyone discounted was the bat speed. Kwaja had a full blooded drive at it. Okay, the ball is coming through at 57mph, but add a full blooded drive at it, if there had been the most tiniest of feather edges, the friction from the ball and rapid bat speed in the opposite direction to the ball almost inevitably would have produced a mark. Does Dharma have any education in physics? Or did his education consist of getting hit by the school bus once?

  • on August 3, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    There is nothing to talk this much. Remember in 1993-95, how bad Australian umpires were. Remember , Darrel Heir? Australians dominated the cricket thanks to their umpires. So, no need to shout on this too much. All the world know Australians are very bias and dodgy on sport as well as everything. So, accept the truth and calm down.