Bang v India, 2nd Q-F, Melbourne March 19, 2015

No logic in the no ball

The ICC protocol, which suggests that a no-ball can be checked only if there has been a dismissal, could do with some tweaking. If an umpire's assessment of an lbw can be questioned, why not a no-ball?

The Bangladesh fielders knew it. Rohit Sharma knew it. The 50,000 people at the MCG, who saw it on the giant screen, probably knew it. Millions watching at home, offices, outside TV showrooms and paan shops with the benefit of commentary, knew it. You'd guess that even the umpires knew it.

The no-ball full toss that Rohit had hit down the throat of deep midwicket was not a no-ball. It was only waist high when he met it in front of his body, and was on its way down. Rohit was on 90 then. He went on to score 137. Every beautiful shot he hit after the reprieve brought reaffirmation that that error could have been corrected.

It was a human error - a quick one at that. Normally, in such cases, you see the two on-field umpires come together for a conference and then predictably go to the third umpire. Here, it seemed Aleem Dar at square leg raised his arm almost immediately, and Ian Gould, at the non-striker's end, had his up in seconds.

What jarred most was that the replay was shown on the big screen, and there was enough time to overturn the call.

Mashrafe Mortaza contested the decision briefly with Gould but to no avail. After the match, he couldn't hide his disappointment but refrained from making a comment. "You all saw what happened," he said, shrugging his shoulders. Mortaza was right. We all saw replays of what happened. The umpires saw them too. Yet, Bangladesh couldn't do anything about it.

With the evolution of broadcasting, technology has become integral to the game. Expensive tools have been developed to correct umpires' errors. The DRS has come in. Umpires ask for help from TV umpires all the time, be it to double-check a back-foot no-ball when someone has been dismissed, or to see if a catch has been taken cleanly. Almost every run-out or stumping appeal is resolved by the TV replays. The dismissals of Mahmdullah and Tamim Iqbal later in the night, for example, were checked on TV.

This World Cup hasn't been shy of controversial umpiring decisions © AFP

The ICC protocol, though, suggests that a no-ball can be checked only if there has been a dismissal. For otherwise, there will be no end to the stoppages. In this instance, thanks to the error by the on-field umpires, there hadn't been a dismissal. Yet it is absurd that had Bangladesh not exhausted their review, they could have challenged many other aspects of a decision, but not an error so obvious and apparent.

If an umpire's assessment of an lbw can be questioned, why not the no-ball? Not a front-foot no-ball, which the bowling side is in no position to judge, but one on height, which is visible to all the fielders.

The idea behind not being allowed to challenge front-foot no-ball calls might be that the batsman might have played a certain shot after having heard the call, but surely no umpire can call a high full toss a no-ball before it has reached the batsman? Surely Rohit, in this instance, didn't play the shot based on its being called a no-ball? There is no good reason why such calls can't be challenged if the team has a review up its sleeve.

This is not the first time in this World Cup that the umpires have attracted unwanted publicity. Dar was one of the umpires when James Anderson was ruled run-out at the same venue when the ball should have been ruled dead on an lbw review. Nobody in the officiously named Playing Control Team (PCT) - on-field umpires, third umpire, fourth umpire, match referee - enforced the protocol.

Here, the protocol itself was proven wrong. In both the cases we were made to live with decisions that were silly. In one case, a batsman was denied a World Cup century. In another, an underdog team was denied a chance at dragging back the stronger side just when it had begun to break away.

As Mortaza so succinctly put it, "You all saw what happened."

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo; Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • chandi5916430 on June 14, 2017, 18:27 GMT

    as a srilankan i saw important thing in this forum thtoat indian favorable partied trying to do some abnormal champions andlet down the reality that is the they spend to cricket of their hi proactive thinking but to say worry end of the day

  • Channan on March 22, 2015, 16:49 GMT

    I once saw a cricket match where a batsman was hit on the shoulder with the ball passing about 6 inches from the bat. No review was available. That team/country accepted the umpire's decision. Is BD also considering not playing in the next WC because the same sort of thing might happen again?

  • Praveen on March 22, 2015, 15:10 GMT

    A mediocre delivery that didn't deserve a wicket but still got one aided by an arguably mediocre shot, a mediocre moment in the career of an excellent umpire along with mediocre ICC protocols. Overall a mediocre moment for Cricket. This is the takeaway for everyone.

  • M.G. on March 21, 2015, 14:34 GMT

    Nice factual article. My heart goes to team BD and BD fans in the stand. It seems it wasn't a WC game but a game played in Mumbi or at Eden Garden. Obviously, Ind and BCCI were in control of arrangement the game, although at MCG, since they are the biggest of the so called big 3. No wonder all Ind neighbors, including SL, Ban, and Pak, have a constant antipathy to their big brother in all geopolitical, social and entertainment sectors. Despite Ind big areawise, with lack of true behavior, - neighbors should be your friends first not enemy, they will never become a great nation ever.

  • Dummy on March 20, 2015, 21:19 GMT

    The ball runs away, but does not reach the boundary. Now, could the firlding side review if it appears that the batsman could run more than one run, knowing that no further runs would be possible after the review, even if but for the frivolous review the batting side could have run two or even three runs?

  • Dummy on March 20, 2015, 21:15 GMT

    With regard to the first umpiring gaffe of the world cup, consider the following scenario: it's the last ball of the match and the batting side needs three to win. The batsman is struck on the pads and the ball runs away to the boundary. Now, it's evident that the ball was missing leg stump, but the fielding side use a tactical review. What happens in this instance? Is the ball dead from the point of impact on thereby depriving the batting side of the leg byes and victory? Or is the ball dead from the point at which the review was called for.

    Even the latter outcome is open to manipulation. Let's alter the scenario a little bit: this is the penultimate ball of the game where the batting side need five to win, with a tail ender on strike and a recognised batsman at the other end. The batsman is rapped on the pads and it's obvious to all parties that the ball is missing let stump. Nonetheless the fielding side appeal only for the appeal to be turned down.

  • Sin on March 20, 2015, 21:12 GMT

    @Tanveer BD. A no-ball call is made instantly, there is no way around. The umpires can get it wrong in marginal cases. Such things happen all the time in all sports. The problem with reviewing a no-ball call is that the batsman can argue that he heard the umpire's call and then went for the aerial shot (although in this case it might not be true). What would you do?

  • Tanveer on March 20, 2015, 18:22 GMT

    The no-ball was not obvious, but the umpire called it instantly. He should have gone for the review. That's the point we are trying to make as Bangladeshi fans. Nevertheless, India played superior cricket than us. Congrats to them and best of luck for the semi's. Its the Aussies they are against with, so hope umpires will put on some more time to think before giving such hasty decision like Rohit's.

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2015, 14:34 GMT

    Well...there is no point in complaining as they have lost with a huge margin of 109 runs and also if we consider the scenario if Rohit would have been given out:

    At the time of rohit's no-ball wicket,India had a score of 196 and even if we consider that after that wicket India would have been all out without scoring any single run,then also Bangladesh would have fall short by 3 runs as Bangladesh was all out at the score of 193 which is 3 runs lesser than India's score at the controversial wicket.....

    So even if it was out,then also India would have easily won the match!....

  • Siva on March 20, 2015, 14:32 GMT

    Bangladesh please have this same attitude. Accepting faults of outside without blaming others is the only way to correct our mistakes and become champion one day. But don't worry this won't happen for you. You always remain as

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