The quality of umpiring in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) has received opprobrium and to put it mildly, the officiating has been abysmal. Perhaps, to err is human, but after seeing the howlers of homegrown umpires, the adage will not wash.
In the match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, Umpire Anil Dandekar neither heard a massive edge by Robin Uthappa, nor the vociferous appeal by Naman Ojha. If the umpire, perhaps, thought that bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar did goup in appeal, it was silly as the edge was so clear that there was no need for any screaming. Ideally the batsman should have walked.
Dandekar figured again when he checked with the third umpire whether Uthappa's catch behind was clean after giving the soft decision as out. The third umpire checks the decision in its entirety and decides that there was no bat involved! Strange rule when the queuery is only for catch, but then that's how the rules are.
If the umpires gives out legbefore even if the ball is hitting the top of the stump the batsman is out, but if a bowler reviews the same decision when the umpires says not out then the the umpire's decision stays.
Unlike, Mumbai mentor Mahela Jayawardene, Sunrisers' V.V.S. Laxman was philosophical: You can't do anything about umpiring decisions. Uthappa went on to make 68.
Uthappa himself was candid when Brett Lee asked how much luck played a part in his knock. " A lot" he replied, adding: "That's how the rub of the green goes."
Even Amitabh Bachhan is livid at the umpring this season. His tweet last year acted as catalyst in commentator Harsha Bhogle being "blacklisted" by the Indian cricket board. Will his tweet now lead to some of the umpires being banished?
In two tweets after Mumbai Indians got two atrocious decisions against Rising Pune Supergiant, Amitabh, pointed out how Joss Butler and Rohit Sharma were given out when they were not out.
Mumbai's coach Mahela Jayawardene was also furious seeing Butler given out when the ball was missing the legstump and Rohit legbefore when he had clearly edged it.
"It happens. It is not in our control. I don't think anyone makes those mistakes. But (I) wish for a change that the opposition can take our wickets," he quipped.
Former India batsman Subramaniam Badrinath was on the dot when he made a pointed remark about the deteriorating standards of umpiring in domestic cricket. "Poor umpring standards have prevailed for ages in domestic cricket, it's just being highlighted through IPL 2017," he tweeted.
What's not so funny is that Rohit was reprimanded for his gestures in disappointment. In the same game, Mumbai's Keiron Pollard escaped a plumb legbefore and when Mahendra Singh Dhoni gestured a DRS sign, the former India captain also got a reprimand from the match referee.
Considering the these horros, umpires failing to notice Sunrisers' skipper David Waner taking strike to the first ball of a new over after hitting the last ball of the previous over for a four is a mere aberration.
Now there can be a clamour for DRS in the IPL. With all the money it generates, it can make the competition a serious business by allowing at least one review in an innings. Most teams might like to use it in the first 10 overs when a poor umpiring decision can make a big difference as it happened with Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Nigel Long, Marais Erasmus and Chirs Gaffany are the only overseas umpires from among ICC Elite Panel this season and the fourth is India's Sundaram Ravi. To make matters worse, the socialistic board decided to distribute matches equally to the Indian umpires to avoid heartburn. A compact small list of umpires would not only have given confidence to the reasonably good men in white coats and also improve the quality of officiating.
The problem with the umpiring system is the authorities trying to accommodate people from every zone, without knowing the standard of leagues in each state. The umpires from the state from where the chairman of the umpires subcommittee is tend to benefit.
A couple of gentlemen got the nod even though they failed to attain the required medical parametres in hearing and eyesight as they were in key jobs in their private life to take care of the board officials' needs.
But the kneejerk reaction of the IPL Governing Council is to sack some of the umpires to douse the raging fire over the terrible umpiring decisions.
(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)