Steve Dunn (left) and David Orchard © Getty Images
Steve Dunn (left) and David Orchard © Getty Images

On September 16, 1999, umpires Steve Dunne and Dave Orchard became engaged in a game of gaffes, somehow officiating through three seven-ball overs in a game between West Indies and Pakistan in Toronto. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the curiously confusing contest.

Earlier that year both Steve Dunne and David Orchard had felt the heat in India.

During Chennai Test, which witnessed Sachin Tendulkar’s epic 136 and Indian team’s spectacular collapse to a 12-run defeat, Dunne had played his part significantly in influencing the result on the fifth day. He started by giving Mohammad Azharuddin out leg before to a Saqlain Mushtaq delivery bowled from wide of the crease that hit the pad on the leg-stump — perhaps guided by the divination that significant late swing would carry it to the stumps from regions close to the leg slip.

This was followed  by the atrocious decision against Sourav Ganguly, declared caught by Moin Khan — by all evidence under those quaint school-cricket rules of one-drop-one-hand after the ball edged by the southpaw had bounced, reared up and struck the batsman’s pad on the half volley, before the wicketkeeper had flung himself to grasp the ricochet.

Soon after that, in the Asian Test Championship match between same two sides at the Eden Gardens, Orchard had lost his cool due to excessive appealing by the teams, quixotically raising his index finger to admonish the Indians, leading them to believe that they had got Saeed Anwar caught behind. On the trouble-stricken fourth day, he had given both openers out leg-before, while the speed of the ball rolling away in each case had suggested serious involvement of the bat.  Finally there was the Tendulkar run out fiasco, after which, along with Steve Bucknor, Orchard had been forced out of the ground with boos and projectiles. Bucknor had at least tried to initiate a dialogue with the crowd, but Orchard, going by his body language, had looked distinctly uninterested to carry on.

Confounded in Canada

However, it had probably been more than the temperature and humidity. Even in the cold and windy Toronto, errors had come thick and fast.

Perhaps Dunne, at 56, was already feeling his age. Besides, the Orchard bloomers have always made for interesting perusal.

In his very first Test match at Durban, Orchard had not given Graham Thorpe out when a direct hit had shattered the stumps. And then, he had added to his sins by allowing Hansie Cronje to pressurise him into calling for a belated replay. In 2001-02, at Kimberley, Kenyan captain Maurice Odumbe had called him ‘unfriendly’, thus earning a two-match suspension. Later, during the NatWest series of 2002, Orchard had missed the initial overs of a match by thinking that it was a day-night game.

Hence what happened that day 13 years ago in Canada should hardly come as a surprise.

During the third One-Day International between Pakistan and West Indies, the two venerable gentlemen became engaged in a closely-contested game of gaffes.

Orchard drew first blood, letting the third over of the game, bowled by Abdul Razzaq, go on for seven balls.

He held the lead till Dunne equalised in the middle of the second innings, allowing seven balls in Merwyn Dillon’s seventh over, 17th of the Pakistan innings.

And as Pakistan cruised to a comfortable win with 68 balls to spare, Dunne made the 31st over count, winning this curious tussle, nonchalantly officiating through the third seven-ball over of the game, this one bowled by Chris Gayle.

Thankfully, the match was not close enough for the three glaring mistakes to matter in the context of the final result. However, the repeated miscounts did earn each of them a polite slap on the wrist.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 230 for 6 in 50 overs (Saeed Anwar 63, Wajahatullah Wasti 40) beat West Indies 215 for 9 in 50 overs (Sherwin Campbell 69) by 15 runs.

Man of the Match: Saeed Anwar.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)