Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Harare, 3rd day April 27, 2013

Poor umpiring mars Test

The umpiring in the Test has not been up to the mark, and the lack of technology to assist them had made it worse

Sore losers blame the officials. Just think of the abuse football's Howard Webb and rugby's Bryce Lawrence get. Some of it is even justified.

Just like the anger fans on both sides of the Zimbabwe-Bangladesh contest will rightly feel when reflecting on the decisions made in this series. By day three, four glaringly incorrect decisions had been made. The only consolation was there were two on each side.

Regis Chakabva, Shingi Masakadza and Tamim Iqbal were incorrectly given out caught behind to balls they did not nick and Mohammad Ashraful was judged lbw to a Kyle Jarvis delivery that was clearly going down the leg side.

Four out of forty wickets amounts to 10%, which is a significant error rate. It does not even take into account the marginal calls or the fact that the match is not over yet. Mistakes happen but to have this many raises obvious questions about the level of seriousness that this contest is treated with.

We already know that Zimbabwe Cricket does not have the funds to cater for DRS but they also seem intent on making sure this is the Test series technology abandoned. They don't even have the means to secure a high-quality production. SuperSport, the broadcaster, have brought as many cameras as they use for a domestic match in South Africa to cover an international here. That's nine instead of 24 and the disadvantages of that have been on display.

The side-on camera angles have made judging no-balls and stumpings difficult to judge even on replay. In the first Test, Elton Chigumbura was bowled off a Rubel Hossain no-ball. The correct call was made after several minutes but the pictures were so fuzzy, they seemed to be coming out of the 1970s.

Other replays have been similarly hazy and they all call for one thing: that it would make sense for there to be a regulation on the minimum number of cameras that have to be used for every international. Like DRS, until someone other than the participating boards can pick up the cost, that is unlikely to be put in place.

But they are not to blame for the poor decision making. Even the creaking cameras in operation here could tell that bat had not touched ball in the Chakabva, Masakadza and Tamim cases. Rather, it seemed a case of the more and the louder the umpire was yelled at, the more convinced, or even intimidated, he was into raising the finger.

Perhaps in the DRS age, umpires have forgotten that even simple catches can be referred if they aren't entirely sure. That is all it would have taken for the correct decision to be made.

That's not asking for innovative technology, just accuracy. The most anyone can hope for is that when the reviews on performance are done, these and other grievances, will be brought up.

Before that can happen, people watching the series will continue to have reason to suspect theirs is the forgotten, neglected contest. On the evidence, they are not wrong.

It has been scheduled at a time of year when most of cricket watchers are either stuffing themselves with IPL or feeding their interest on the county circuit. Some don't even know these matches are happening, most don't care. The diehards remain interested but even they have been put off somewhat.

For that, the quality of cricket is to blame. If someone wanted to find a compilation of dropped catches and soft dismissals, they need not look further than this series. Both have occurred in abundance which makes a case for why these two teams need to play more Test cricket, against higher ranked countries as well as each other.

Then, they will be exposed to batsmen who place a high enough value on the wickets not to give it away and fielders who put their bodies on the line with far greater success. They will also have the advantage of better technology and it may result in better decision making, which will only serve to aid their progress in the longest format.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 28, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    It's sad that umpiring was so poor in this test series. But let's face it, the umpires are as human as anyone around, and as such, are prone to making mistakes.

    Let's just hope there is no more of this in the rest of the series.

  • Shabbir on April 28, 2013, 14:40 GMT

    Clearly Tamims reaction was not just a frustration of the decisiin against him but a decision against the many poor decisions given against Bangladesh over the years. The same thing happened in Sri Lanka where once again Bangladesh was on the wrong side of some poor decisions.

    It is true that Tamim should have not shown dissent but it is also true that the umpires should be qualified and trained to a high standard. In Tamims case, given the wide margin of clearance the ball from his bat, the umpire could have simply referred it to the third umpire but it seems that only ZIM are worthy of such luxury!

  • Shah on April 28, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    I am tired & i don't get at all why BD has been very most the victim of poor umpiring & its showing up quite often since long i must say...what they just think of themselves, now as players are getting fined due to there reaction of wrong decisions then yes ofcourse umpires's must also be fined or should be suspended for atleast a year for there mean desire or else i am telling you they won't care rectify themselves enough but will keep on.. hellouuu its an international level of cricket prospect & they must be fair by a any means for both teams playing, they just can't just go against any team & let them win unfairly this way in big times & that is in this level !!

  • Dummy4 on April 28, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    I personally don't see that Zimbabwe has too much to complain about here. Neither Regis or Shingi are big wickets. Zimbabwe will most likely lose this match because they have dropped a whole bunch of pretty straight forward catches, sitters really. I have only watched probably 30-40 overs of them fielding in this match and I saw them drop at least 5 catches! I really love watching and supporting both of these teams and I have to say that the umpiring has played no role in this match, Bangladesh has simply played far better cricket. Zimbabwe really need Mawoyo back and having Vitori back to full fitness and keeping Price in the frame will help too. If only Tatenda was still around! I could almost cry for Zimbabwean cricket sometimes...

  • Andrew on April 28, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    I'm neural & I thought Banga was harder done by in the 1st Test (not enuf to change the result), & are on the wrong end to a heavier effect in ths match too. Hopefully things will even themselves out (usually do).

  • Dummy4 on April 28, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    Very very poor umpiring indeed..unacceptable at this level of cricket

  • Baundule on April 28, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    Tamim gets fined reacting to wrong decision. What does the umpire get making that wrong decision?

  • Shegufta on April 28, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    Yep definitely not a 50/50 situation as Tamim and Ashraful are top order batsmen and they play a huge part in the Bangladeshi team. I think what's making it worse is the fact that no one seems to be taking this match up seriously! In my opinion, any match of test cricket is a hundred times better than IPL. I know IPL is a much shorter format and there's more high voltage action but IPL is just a business whereas test cricket is a real showcase of cricketing talent. Test cricket is cricket's version of 'survival of the fittest' and more and more cricket fans should be watching test cricket :) If people actually watched this match then they would see that both Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have quality players with talent but all they need is some appreciation and viewership from international audiences.