The Investec Ashes 2013 August 19, 2013

Umpires have 'cracked under pressure' - Haddin


Australia's vice-captain Brad Haddin has questioned the standard of umpiring throughout the Ashes series and believed that on-field officials were second-guessing themselves because of the presence of DRS. Haddin also reiterated the call he made after the first Test at Trent Bridge to have the review system taken out of the hands of the players and left at the sole discretion of the umpires.

Haddin was clearly upset when he was given out lbw by umpire Tony Hill in Australia's second innings in Chester-le-Street, where he tried to work a Stuart Broad delivery to leg. Haddin asked for a review and the umpire's call stood after HawkEye suggested the ball would have just grazed the very top and edge of the leg bail. When asked what it was he had said to the umpire as he walked off, Haddin said he had muttered the words: "Not again".

Haddin was quick to point out the umpiring had not been the cause of Australia's disappointing scoreline in the series and he commended England for having performed better, but he said that both teams would likely feel that the standard of officiating in the series had been below-par. Hill particularly was under the spotlight in the fourth Test, where he made a number of incorrect decisions, but all the officials have erred throughout the series.

"I think England deserve to be in the position they are at 3-0. I think they've played the better cricket," Haddin said. "But in all honesty, I think the standard of the umpiring in this series has been something that they could have a look at. I know players deal with pressure in different situations and some guys respond to it and some don't. I think with the umpiring in this series, there have been times when they have cracked under the pressure of a campaign like [this].

"I think DRS has put too much pressure on the umpires on the field. I think they're second-guessing themselves with their decisions ... I should've hit it [in Chester-le-Street]. But I think from both teams we've had some things that we've sat back and said 'how can this be happening?'."

Teams haven't always had to sit back and say it - they can do so out on the field while the replays are unfolding live on the big screen. After a review, the umpires and players typically stand around the pitch in their own little groups and watch the big-screen replay, which often brings plenty of jeering from the crowd if the umpire was shown to have made a mistake.

"I do think it does place pressure on the umpires because the crowd react," Haddin said of the replays. "If it's a home crowd here they're always going to lean towards England. I do think DRS has put a lot of pressure on the umpires on the field. I've gone on record before saying it should be taken out of the players' hands and let the umpires deal with it. If they think it needs to go upstairs, let them go upstairs."

There are also questions over whether umpires would make the same decisions for the same deliveries, depending on whether a team still holds reviews or not. If, for example, an Australian bowler appeals with no reviews left, and the England batsmen still have reviews available, an umpire might feel more inclined to give a line-ball decision out because England have the option of challenging, whereas Australia do not.

"I think the umpires are aware where DRS is at, who's got one left or who's got none left, and I think it can influence their decision," Haddin said. "I think it needs to be taken out of the players' hands, and let the umpires have total control. The bottom line is you just want to have more decisions right than not. You don't want to be talking about DRS or umpire decisions in such a big series."

The fifth Test at The Oval begins on Wednesday with Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena standing as the on-field officials and Hill as the TV umpire. Together with Marais Eramsus, they are the only four members of the ICC's Elite Panel of umpires who are able to stand in an Ashes series, as the remaining eight men on the panel are either from England or Australia.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Blaise on August 21, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    Poor Aussies can not stomach defeat. Haddin obviously has a poor memory.Mcgrath had to only say who he is targeting and the Aussie umpires obliged. The umpires almost destroyed Andrew Struss's carrier when he toured Australia for the first time.His first three dismissals were dubious.For decades Aussie umpires gave dubious decisions and things did not improve with neutral umpires as well in Australia. Remember the series against India when Harabajan changed things?I am sure Haddin played in that series.

  • Dummy4 on August 20, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    So the ball hit his pad and was going on to hit the stumps. The umpire thought it was - DRSA thought it was - he was out. And yet he's whinginh. This "1/2 a ball" stuff is nonsense. 999 times out of 1000 the ball only has to clip the very edge of the stump and you're bowled. So why give the batters an extra inch and a half off both sides of the stumps and off the top. Shrinking the stumps by 3 inches side to side and 1/2 inces top to bottom. If it's going to's going to hit - and you're out. In Haddins case umpire said out, DRS said out - he was out - yet he still has a whinge. It's a batsmans game alright. Somehow they've convinced the ICC to shrink the stumps for LBW now - and batsmen have got a feeling of "entitlement" about it very quickly...whatever next? Wider bats? Not caught if you didn't mean to hit it? Nonsense!

  • Allan on August 20, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    Haddin's argument about the umpires is ridiculous because the example he is giving of him being given out was actually 'OUT'. Giving the onfield umpires the DRS is not going to solve all the problem. Here's a scenerio, umpires give Haddin LBW and is 100% sure he is out so does not need the DRS. Haddin think he insn't. Problem. With teams having reviews, it makes beeter sense as you have more power to overide the umpire's decision. DRS the way it is is fine. There were some bad third umpre decisions that should never have happened. No fault of DRS. Let the games begin.

  • Dummy4 on August 20, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    I don't understand the logic behind umpire's call. Hawkeeye is only a calculation so the projected path is just an approximation, but surely it is more accurate than the what umpire predicts off his naked eye. But for technology used for where ball is pitched or hits - isn't that tracked by the camera - so shouldn't this be almost 100% accurate. So why does an umpire, whose call is based off a naked eye generally (so I am ignoring shockers) determines the decision used by DRS.

  • Brenton on August 20, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    1) Take reviews out of the hands of players. It's being used as a tactic to try and overturn 50:50 decisions at critical moments of games.

    2) Have specially trained 3rd umpires. It's a special skill to interpret what is seen on the screen and make a decision.

    3) Allow the 3rd umpire to intervene if an obvious error has been made.

    4) Don't show the replays on the big screen.

    We are not ever going to get perfection, but eliminating the howler is possible if these 4 changes are followed.

  • Sean on August 20, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    Why dont we just fire the onfield umpires (saving billions!) & only have a 3rd umpire in a studio somewhere. Just use a coat/hat rack behind the stumps which the mid-on/off could move behind the stumps during the over changeover. Also change the rules so instead of the usual appeal, the bowler must perform a backflip over the stumps in order to appeal (this will assure the game doesnt slow up too much).

  • Xiong on August 20, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    I think it says it all that 66% of the elite panel are either Australian or English. Having the neutral umpire rule is the same as saying we truly believe there will be decisions given that favour a particular country, even in our most elite group of umpires we can possibly assemble. Quality message, right?

    And if Hill and Dharmaseena remain as part of the elite panel it would be more like saying anyone can be an umpire on the elite panel, it doesn't really matter what decisions you make. Just guess and you could end up on the elite panel too.

    Oh and for the front foot no ball thing. Can anybody possibly mount an argument as to why it has NOT been made the third umpires job to watch a running feed on the no ball lines (yes, plural, there are two lines for a no ball). After the fact checking is ridiculous, and it would allow the on field umpires to perform much better. Number of no balls missed is through the roof, especially on the back foot no balls. It's a rule for a reason.

  • Simon on August 20, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    Lotta sense in what you say Smithie. Time the ICC put their reputation where their technology is. If the ICC believe that DRS in it's current format is adequate enough to determine a players' innings and that the player has a right to say that the umpires decision is not final, then it's time for the ICC to say any of the 12 umpires on their independent panel can umpire any game regardless of their nationality.

  • John on August 20, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    I'm with Haddin that all reviews should be in the hands of the umpires. Incidentally, the article mentions one of the problems, which could easily be solved: the players stand around in groups (with drinks brought in from the boundaries) waiting for the decision. The rule should be that the players must prepare for the next ball to be bowled immediately in the event that the review decision is 'not out'. If it's 'out' they have a couple of minutes to celebrate while the next batsman comes in anyway. That would reduce time wasted to a minimum. Anyone not ready would be in breach of Law 42 and penalized accordingly.

    By the way, if Haddin's decision at ClS had been taken by the 3 umpires, he'd still have been out. The decision that would have been different was Bresnan being given 'not out' and that might have had an influence on the game.

  • Steve on August 20, 2013, 2:53 GMT

    @Optic....Mate, I don't think anyone suggests that Aust have been the better side or deserve anything more than what has happenned. We knew we were in for a thumping but have been quietly excited about the prospect that we could have actually snatched a couple of tests. Most Aussies I know acknowledge that a strong England is good for the game. What is disappointing is the reaction from a few Poms (including some of the players). All of a sudden you have a competitive side and you turn into peacocks. Heaven help us all if you manage to win a football World Cup!!!!

    All that people in this post are saying including Hadden is that the Umpiring and DRS has a lot to answer for.