McCullum backs TV umpire controlling no-ball calls
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has said he would have no problem with giving the TV umpire control over calling no-balls, following an incorrect and match-changing call on the first day in Wellington. Australia won the first Test by an innings and 52 runs on the fourth day, but it was hard not to wonder what might have been but for umpire Richard Illingworth's mistake in the last over of day one.
Australia batsman Adam Voges was on 7 when he shouldered arms and was bowled by Doug Bracewell, but was reprieved by Illingworth's no-ball call. Replays showed that a significant part of Bracewell's heel was behind the crease but while the ICC's regulations allow for a no-ball to be retrospectively called, they do not allow for one to be rescinded. Voges batted on, scored 239 and was Man of the Match.
It was not the only such mistake in this Test. During New Zealand's second innings, Illingworth again called a clearly incorrect no-ball, this time off the bowling of Jackson Bird, but the delivery was safely negotiated by Martin Guptill. After the match, McCullum indicated his support for handing the third umpire the responsibility for calling no-balls rather than the on-field officials.
"Maybe that's something that needs to be looked at, just to make sure you get the right decision all the time," McCullum said. "I'm guessing it's probably a bit easier as well for an umpire to look at the other end rather than having to look down and then look back up. But other people will make those decisions."
It was the second time in consecutive Tests against Australia that New Zealand were on the wrong end of an umpiring error that arguably turned the match. In the day-night Test in Adelaide in November, the TV umpire Nigel Llong wrongly gave Nathan Lyon not out caught upon a New Zealand review, despite Hot Spot clearly showing a mark on his bat. It would have left Australia at 9 for 118; they went on to make 224 and win the Test.
"I haven't brought it up with them," McCullum said when asked if he had discussed the no-ball call with the umpires or match referee Chris Broad. "Richard Illingworth would be pretty disappointed with it, I'm guessing. It's a bit of a shame but I've said all the way along that you've got to take the rough with the smooth in this game as well. Credit to Voges for making it count.
"Everyone makes mistakes. Richard Illingworth is a fine umpire as I said about Nigel Llong in Adelaide and they're allowed to make one mistake. It's unfortunate for him that it probably had a bit of a bearing on the game. But we had our opportunities to rectify it and we didn't do it. That [the no-ball call] is certainly not what we're focusing on."
Had Voges been dismissed from that delivery in the last over of the first day, Australia would have been wobbling at 4 for 146 in reply to New Zealand's 183, with a new batsman at the crease first thing on day two. Instead, Voges and Usman Khawaja added a further 153 during their partnership before Voges went on to post his second Test double-century of the summer.
"We want to see the right decision made as much as possible," Australia's captain Steven Smith said. "Everyone makes mistakes, whether you're a player or an umpire. Hopefully they can find a way to resolve that so that those sort of mistakes don't happen too much in the future."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale