Ind v Pak DLF / News

India v Australia, DLF Cup, 6th match

Benson trusts his instincts

Dileep Premachandran at Kuala Lumpur

September 22, 2006

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Mark Benson decided that it was better to look silly than give the wrong decision © Getty Images

Whenever Glenn McGrath and Sachin Tendulkar come across each other on a cricket pitch, things tend to happen. And it was no different on Friday, with McGrath's very first delivery to his fellow legend providing for the day's main talking point. Pitched short, it tempted Tendulkar into the pull, but he was too early on the stroke. The ball brushed his shoulder and ricocheted behind the stumps to Brad Haddin and the Australian close-in fielders went up in appeal. After a moment's thought, and to Tendulkar's stupefaction, Mark Benson raised his finger.

Tendulkar's reaction was about as animated as he ever gets on a cricket field, and it perhaps implanted the first seeds of doubt in Benson's mind. And while Tendulkar trudged towards the pavilion slowly, he decided to consult with his colleague, Asad Rauf. Once Rauf gave his opinion, Benson decided that it was better to look silly than give the wrong decision, and to his credit, he recalled the batsman.

While McGrath smiled ruefully and walked back to his mark, Ricky Ponting was livid. Forgetting the fact that the umpire is well within his rights to reverse a decision (Law 27.9), Ponting shared more than a few words, and it will be interesting to see what view the match referee takes at the end of the game. After his latest outburst against West Indies, Cricket Australia had come down hard on him, aware that the next offence would invite a multiple-game ban.

The Tendulkar incident wasn't the only topic of debate either. Haddin had made only two when Rudra Pratap Singh's throw to Harbhajan Singh appeared to catch him several feet short of the crease. Haddin looked to be walking off to the pavilion when Benson decided to clarify whether Harbhajan had broken the stumps cleanly with ball in hand. It took several minutes of replays to establish that he hadn't, and the waiting Haddin was then called back.

While one of the commentators lamented, off the record, about declining umpiring standards, it must be said that Benson got it right both times. After the umpiring controversies of the past few months it was refreshing to see an official do the right thing, even at the risk of having his competence called into question.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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