Umpiring blunders leave Zimbabwe shortchanged

The absence of DRS meant there was extra focus on the on-field umpires. As many as ten errors, including four on the final morning, with Zimbabwe battling to save the Test, did them no favours

Zimbabwe were at the receiving end of a number of howlers on Day 5 of the second Test  •  AFP

Zimbabwe were at the receiving end of a number of howlers on Day 5 of the second Test  •  AFP

"Guys have seen the replays but its one of those things. It can happen to any team," said a crestfallen Graeme Cremer after Zimbabwe went down to New Zealand by 254 runs to concede the series 2-0 in Bulawayo. "It would have been nice going into the last hour with a couple of wickets but these things happen." The disappointment was palpable considering Zimbabwe were at the receiving end of a few howlers during the series. ESPNcricinfo examines them:
Sean Williams, first innings, first Test
Neil Wagner hit Sean Williams on the helmet off his first delivery and broke his grille. A second bouncer followed. Williams, clearly hustled for pace, attempted a pull which lobbed off the helmet to Ish Sodhi at short midwicket. Williams stood until umpire Paul Reiffel gave him out. He walked off disappointed, but not before he gestured to his helmet in explanation.
Prince Masvaure, first innings, first Test
After saving Zimbabwe's blushes with an 85-run ninth wicket stand with Donald Tiripano, Prince Mavaure would have been eyeing a maiden Test fifty. But his hopes were dashed when he played across the line to a Tim Southee delivery. Replays suggested the ball would have missed leg stump, but Reiffel didn't feel so.
Craig Ervine, second innings, first Test
Three balls after reaching his maiden Test fifty, Craig Ervine played inside the line to a Boult delivery that reversed back into him. There was a noise and Ervine was given out caught behind. But replays showed there was no nick. The ball was not close to the bat and the sound likely came from the bat hitting the pad. Debutant umpire Michael Gough made that call.
Graeme Cremer, second innings, first Test
Zimbabwe's captain saw Sean Williams through to a century and had faced 130 balls himself, for 33. Cremer was picking the spin well until he tried to flick an Ish Sodhi legbreak but missed. He was hit above the knee roll and the ball would have sailed over the stumps, but Reiffel didn't think that way.
Donald Tiripano, first innings, second Test
His first Test efforts proved Donald Tiripano could bat, but his resistance was cut short in the second Test. Neil Wagner pitched a ball just outside leg, Tiripano missed an attempted nudge and was hit in front of leg stump. Reiffel gave him out despite the ball pitching outside the line of the stumps.
Chamu Chibhabha, first innings, second Test
The only time Zimbabwe benefitted from a decision was off the second ball on the third morning. Chamu Chibhabha and Tino Mawoyo had made sure they had not lost wickets the evening before, but Chibhabha should have been out when Boult got one to pitch in line, tail in late and hit him on the pads. Reiffel said not out even as the New Zealanders watched in dismay.
Donald Tiripano, second innings, second Test
For the second time in the match, Tiripano was at the receiving end of a poor call. He had batted 70 minutes of the final morning in an effort to save the game and was dealing well with seam and spin when Mitchell Santner, the left-arm spinner, bowled one that drifted in towards leg stump. The ball skidded on, without turning and would have missed leg stump. Umpire Reiffel clearly didn't see it that way.
Craig Ervine, second innings, second Test
At the stroke of lunch on the final day, Ervine seemed set to see out the session. Kane Williamson looked to get rid of an over by giving Martin Guptill a bowl. Ervine lunged forward to defend but missed a ball that turned. There no contact between bat and ball, although the bat may have hit the pad and made a sound. Reiffel gave Ervine out.
Graeme Cremer, second innings, second Test
Cremer had not managed to plant roots as he did in the first Test, but still had some hope of batting time, despite Zimbabwe being seven down after lunch. Guptill was turning the ball significantly and Cremer inside-edged one onto his pad. He was given out lbw by Reiffel.
Prince Masvaure, second innings, second Test
At the other end, with Zimbabwe in complete disarray, Prince Masvaure got down to defend a Sodhi ball the beat the inside edge and hit him on the pad. The ball lobbed up to Taylor, who claimed the catch at slip, and Masvaure was sent packing by Gough. Even assuming it was for an lbw, the ball would have comfortably missed leg stump.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent