Most Controversial Umpiring: The DRS (Decision Review System) was introduced in cricket in 2008. It was developed to reduce the umpiring howlers in the game. The technology wasn’t 100% nor is it fully efficient even now but it helps in doing away with glaring errors. Teams who were initially reluctant to adopt the system understood the nous that DRS brings in. Hence umpiring decisions don’t generate as much buzz as they used to earlier.
The pre-DRS era:
There have been many series that have gone sour owing to poor umpiring. A few of the umpiring decisions ended up being controversial and trigger fans even today.
We look at 4 of the most controversial umpiring decisions:
#4 Sachin Tendulkar given out SBW
It is some coincidence that umpiring controversies are a big part down under. During India’s tour of Australia, the Tendulkar – McGrath contest received top billing. The little master was on top of his game throughout the series. Glenn McGrath bowled a sharp bouncer to Tendulkar who ducked in response. The ball hit Tendulkar’s right shoulder.
Aussies appealed in unison for an LBW, which in this case was shoulder before wicket (SBW). Umpire Daryl Harper had no qualms about raising his finger. The decision left Tendulkar bewildered. It remains one of the most controversial umpiring decisions of all time.
#3 Muralitharan was no-balled for chucking
Sri Lanka was no longer the underdog in world cricket in 1998. They were the reigning World Cup champions. It might have been this change in the power centre that didn’t sit well with dogged Aussies. In an ODI featuring England and Sri Lanka, square leg umpire, Ross Emerson called a no-ball when Muttiah Muralitharan came to bowl. The batsmen nor the standing umpire had a problem with Murali’s action.
But the square leg umpire thought otherwise. Arjuna Ranatunga, the fierce leader that he was had animated discussions with the umpires. The officials didn’t seem to budge nor did Ranatunga. He threatened to stage a walkout when better sense prevailed and play resumed. If not for Ranatunga’s backing on that day, the cricket world order might have been entirely different.
#2 Sydney Test, 2008
It had all the trappings of a blockbuster series. Australia took an early lead at the MCG. India came roaring back in the 2nd Test at the SCG. The Aussie top-order was blown away with Andrew Symonds being the last recognized batsman. Ishant Sharma drew an edge from Symonds which only Steve Bucknor, the standing umpire failed to hear. Bucknor refused to even address a stumping appeal later in the innings.
These umpiring howlers kept haunting the Indian team throughout the Test. Relationships between both sides soured as the ugly side of Aussies’ win-at-all costs came to the fore. It was one of the ugliest Test matches ever.
#1 Ben Stokes’ 6 runs overthrow
In the biggest of world stages with a World Cup on the line, umpire Kumar Dharmasena made a huge blunder. Ben Stokes powered England kept hanging on the knife’s edge as wickets kept tumbling. They needed 9 off the last 3 balls when Stokes hit the ball to deep mid-wicket and hared back for the second.
Martin Guptill’s throw from the deep ricocheted off Stokes’ bat and went into the boundary. The cricketing law suggests that England should have been awarded 5 runs instead of 6. England managed to tie the contest and went on to win the World Cup on boundary count!