22 August 1999

Third umpire in TV run out blunder

Trevor Chesterfield

Galle (Sri Lanka) - If you know your Murphy's Law regulations well enough you can guarantee that any match between Australia and Sri Lanka is going to attract its fair share of controversy.

And we did not have too long to wait, either, before the first contentious moment of the Aiwa Cup triangular series surfaced. Not that it was too much of a surprise it came from the third umpire's monitor. While in the scorebook Adam Gilchrist's run out will go down to Mahela

Jayawardena/Romesh Kaluwitharana, the name of the third umpire, D N Pathirana should also feature. Pathirana took his time as well to make up his mind that Kaluwitharana, although he had dropped the ball and the Australian opening batsman had ground his bat behind the line, had completed the dismissal and had no trouble in sending the Australian opener back to the dressingroom. Around six southern summers ago when the TV replay facility became accepted as form of making decisions there was the distinct impression umpires would often prefer the third man to do the job. Now doubts, long submerged about the policy of using local umpires to fill the third man role are going to get a new airing. There were several games in the World Cup when the third umpire made the sort of errors which caused embarrassment and that made yesterday by Pathirana carried the same incompetent brand mark.

As it is Pathirana took an unusually long time when making up his mind in three of the four run out decisions with the first three causing an awkwardly long buzz of expectancy. Not that the Sri Lankans indulged themselves in the monotonous display of high fives when appealing for Gilchrist's run out from a throw at deep square leg by Mahela Jayawardena. They were uncertain and mulled around for the three minutes it took Pathirana to make up his mind.

The Sri Lankans were more convinced when Darren Lehmann and Andrew Symonds were sent back, also after Pathirana's efforts to make up his mind took as long as one of Shane Warne's longer overs while Michael Bevan managed to survive as the Lankan fieldsmen almost shook hands with themselves until Pathirana ruled in his favour.

No doubt we are going to get the excuse that local umpires are in need of exposure to act as third man. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, there is a difference of opinion.

There has long been a move to include lbw and bat-pad decisions in the third umpire's brief, only the way it is going, the sort of umpire error creeping into this role is because those selected to do the job lack the competence needed. If the result of a match, or a series, depends on the outcome of a referral to the third man the chances of him getting it wrong is as easy as the man in the middle and casts doubt on handing over such decisions to the TV monitor.

Pathirana was one of three umpires criticised in a report to the United Cricket Board after the South Africa A team tour of Sri Lanka last year, the second is also standing in this series, L M Jayasundera who stands in the game involving Australia and India.

Source :: CricInfo