Melbourne Stars captain Glenn Maxwell has labelled Ben Dunk's controversial dismissal in Sunday night's clash with the Perth Scorchers "an extraordinary decision", as yet another BBL match was marred by an umpiring controversy.
Dunk was given out caught early in the chase when he mistimed a pull shot to Nick Hobson at square leg who had to dive forward as the ball dipped on him. The ball nestled in Hobson's hands but he immediately signaled to everyone on the field that he felt the ball didn't carry and bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile agreed without reacting and walked straight back to his mark.
Scorchers keeper Cameron Bancroft, with a good sight of it from behind the stumps, asked if the umpires could check upstairs. Umpires Nathan Johnstone and Gerard Abood convened and sent the decision upstairs to the third umpire Simon Lightbody and significantly gave the on-field 'soft signal' as out.
The TV evidence was inconclusive and the third umpire was unable to overturn the on-field decision as a result. Maxwell, Dunk and the Stars were left bemused by the sequence of events.
"It looked to me that the bowler and fielder said that it didn't carry and then everyone went back to their positions, and Bancroft asked for it to be looked at," Maxwell said post-match. "Somehow the umpire has come up with, [the decision] that's out. It's an extraordinary decision in the end. But that's history.
"From our point of view, it was pretty disappointing. The fielder says he doesn't catch it and the bowler accepts that and walks back to his mark and somehow, it's been given out on field.
"Judging by the evidence given to them I would have just thought the umpires would have said the 'soft signal' was not out. If there was evidence that it was out then I'm fine with the decision being overturned. But the cameras looked a bit blurry and as soon as you don't have the right evidence to overturn it, unfortunately it's going to stick with umpire's call. We'll have to live with that."
It was the second controversial umpiring decision involving the Perth Scorchers at Perth Stadium this season. Scorchers batsman Michael Klinger was dismissed off the seventh ball of an over against the Sydney Sixers after the umpires incorrectly allowed an extra delivery. The decision did not affect the outcome of the game.
The Heat were also left to bemoan two incorrect lbw decisions in their successful chase against the Adelaide Strikers on Sunday night when both Max Bryant and Brendon McCullum were given out. There is no DRS in the BBL but TV broadcaster Fox Sports did have ball-tracking and used it for replays of both decisions. Bryant's was clearly missing leg stump by some margin while McCullum was hit well outside the line of off stump, but the decisions did not affect the outcome of the match with the Heat winning comfortably.
Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat also shared the points in another controversial incident after a power failure at the Gabba ended the match early in the chase. The Thunder appealed the no result decision from the match officials after it was deemed conditions were unsuitable to continue. Cricket Australia dismissed the appeal after finding that the correct protocols had been followed by the match officials in calling the game off.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne