Before the days of television replay, the slo-mo, hotspot, hawkeye, third umpire, the review system and snickometers, the umpire had full power of every cricketing decision and, unfortunately, human error would creep in. Here are some of the more cringe-worthy decisions made by umpires over the years.
7 of the worst cricket umpiring decisions
Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff left a match against New Zealand fuming after being given ‘out’ by umpire Doug Cowie. Kiwi player, Andre Adams, had bowled an outswinger and the ball was two to three inches from Flintoff’s outside edge. Cowie didn’t hesitate to raise his finger, sending the batsman on his way. Exit angry Flintoff.
Sri Lanka were playing Australia with Justin Langer in the crease, opening the batting. As Chaminda Vaas delivered the ball, Langer, at the last second, tried to leave the delivery, but as he lifted the bat he edged it to slip and slip took a clean catch. Unbelievably the umpire ruled ‘not out’, and the incredulous Sri Lankans were forced to continue.
Australia’s Adam Gilchrist was running between the wickets when a Sri Lankan fielder picked up the ball and threw at the keeper. The keeper managed to catch the ball but his sloppy technique caused him, not only to drop the ball, but also to break the stumps with his gloves. The replay showed Gilchrist’s bat was over the line, commentators were saying it was poor keeping, but the red light flashed and third umpire gave him out.
South African legend, AB de Villiers, was facing Indian bowler, Zaheer Khan, with cricketing icon, Sachin Tendulkar, fielding at first slip. Khan bowled and De Villiers got an outside edge, the ball flew to Tendulkar who caught it on his left-hand side yet the umpire – Aleem Dar – called ‘not out’. South Africa were already 8 for 2 at the time.
Kumar Sangakkara from Sri Lanka laughed derisively after going for a pull shot but, instead, the ball came off his shoulder, onto his helmet and then looped up to the Australian fielder who was at backwards point. Sangakkara went out for 192.
Australian spin bowler, Shane Warne, was bowling to South African batsman, Ashwell Prince. Warne pitched the ball well outside off-stump, the ball ripped in a lot and the South African batsman left it, with his arms in the air. The ball then hit him on the pads, well outside the line, but umpire, Billy Bowden, still gave him the crooked finger. Prince went out for 119.
No list outlining poor umpiring decisions can be complete without a look at Australian umpire, Darrell Hair. One that stands out is ‘The Oval Fiasco’ during the fourth day of the fourth Test at The Oval between England and Pakistan. After 56 overs had been bowled in England’s second innings, it was discovered the ball was out of shape. Batsmen, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood were given the chance to choose the ball, indicating the ball had been doctored. Hair then tapped his left shoulder with his right hand, awarding five penalty runs to England. In essence, Pakistan had been charged with cheating without warning or option for defence. Bad light stopped play later that day and, when conditions improved, the Pakistani team did not emerge, however, the batsmen and umpires went out onto the field. Hair then removed the stumps, effectively indicating a forfeiture of the match which was eventually awarded to England, although the Pakistani team did emerge half an hour later.