ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 34

New Zealand Umpires

By Hemantha Warnakulasuriya

The convincing victory against the ‘Black Caps’ in the fourth ODI, played at Eden Park, in which New Zealand was bowled out for the second lowest total and beaten by the largest margin ever, would go down in history as one of the most memorable wins by a Sri Lanka cricket team.

The part played by Chaminda Vaas in removing three top order batsmen, by trapping them LBW, was the most pivotal role in this victory. Like Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas is another workhorse, who has been tirelessly working for the Sri Lanka cricket team. Like good wine, with age, he seems to fine tune his deliveries. But for me, the most important aspect of the game was the most exemplary umpiring and decision making of the New Zealand umpire. It is very rarely that a New Zealand umpire makes a bad or wrong decision. New Zealand umpire C.A. Baxter gave three consecutive decisions against the Black Caps, all which could have been justified by the commentators, if the decisions were in the negative. Every commentator condemned the umpire when they first saw it with the naked eye, but repeated replays showed that the umpire's decision was spot on and when the next shout for LBW was ruled in the negative by Australian umpire Steve Davis, the commentators thought that the batsman was out, but here too replays showed that the umpire was correct.

These decisions are in stark contrast to what happened in the 1st test match between South Africa and Pakistan, where a number of LBW decisions, which should have gone in favour of Pakistan, were disallowed by the elitist umpires. When Ashwell Prince, at 126, was caught by Saheed Nazir, both umpires consulted each other and referred it to the 3rd umpire. Television replays showed that though there was a dark shadow of the bowler covering the catch from one angle, the other angles clearly showed that the ball was taken cleanly by the bowler. But to the shock and dismay of everyone, the South African television umpire negated the decision giving the benefit of the doubt to the batsman where there was no doubt at all. It was shown very clearly that only the fingers and not the ball touched the ground and the ball was clearly covered by the hands of the bowler. This is one of the most horrendous third umpire decisions I have ever seen. I doubt whether this would ever happen in New Zealand. The ICC must change their laws and get the match referee involved with the 3rd umpire in decision making.

New Zealand umpires are the fairest in the world and it is unfortunate that only one of them has got into the ICC Elite panel of Umpires.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.