Ashes 2013: Poor umpiring standards might take sheen off the contests

Kumar Dharmasena (left) and Aleem Dar officiated the first Ashes Test match at Trent Bridge © Getty Images

The poor umpiring standards in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge robbed a little bit of charm from an otherwise excellent display of cricket. Aayush Puthran feels that the ICC needs to reassess Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena’s further role in the series in order to ensure that results of such high-voltage quality cricket encounters are not affected by poor umpiring.

 

Trent Bridge witnessed a fine exhibition of cricket that had its own share of fairytales and controversies. Be it debutant Ashton Agar’s dream debut with the bat or Stuart Broad’s refusal to walk after nicking a delivery to slips. Every day, the Test provided enough high-voltage drama for the cricket connoisseurs to indulge in quality discussions.

All said and done, England and Australia ensured that the Test match lived up perfectly to its built up hype.

Keeping the row caused by the Decision Review System (DRS) aside, as much as Australia’s steely resistance in their two last wicket stands provided for some delightful watching, the umpiring howlers gave as much disappointment. Aleem Dar’s refusal to give Broad out despite him having edged the ball to the slips might have hogged the spotlight, but the overall umpiring standards as well were below levels that one would expect in a much-awaited Test series that has a rich vein of history. To believe, according to ICC’s standards, that the on-field umpires officiating in the match — Dharmasena and Dar — are currently the two best umpires in the world, doesn’t do much good to the sour taste left after their howlers in the first Ashes Test match. To put it mildly, the umpiring standards are in a sad state.

Shane Warne put it well when he wrote, “We all make mistakes and it’s a very tough job being an umpire, but when Dar continually makes crucial mistakes why does he keep getting a gig.”

One could call one-odd decision a rarity and a human error. But expecting Dar to continually err on rather easy appeals is shocking. This is not the not the first time when a regulation nick caught at slips was turned down by Dar. In 2006, Dar refused to give AB de Villiers out after he poked an away going delivery by Zaheer Khan to Sachin Tendulkar who pouched an easy catch at the first slip.

 

The International Cricket Council (ICC) put a strong voice across when it removed Billy Bowden from the Elite list over non-performance just a fortnight back. However, after this Test match, they need to inspect and immediately address the issue of the umpiring standards that were on display.

Their role, further on, in this series, especially of Dar needs to be reassessed. Dar would be officiating in the fourth and fifth Test of the series, while the Sri Lankan would be partnering him in the final Test, apart from officiating in the second match. It will be criminal if the poor umpiring standards in the series rob the players from their due and fans from some high quality cricket.

(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)