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The commotion that a game of cricket can be

March 14, 2018

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It was arguably the most pulsating fixture in the short history of the Pakistan Super League.

Lahore Qalandars required three off the last ball when Sohail Akhtar holed out to long-on, leading to manic celebrations in the Karachi Kings camp. But, they were halted dead in their tracks when it emerged that Usman Shinwari had overstepped.

The young pacer had to bowl the last ball again. But, his side did not know how much they had to defend. Likewise, Lahore had no idea how much they had to score.

Replays showed the batsmen had completed the run after Ravi Bopara took the catch at the long-on fence. However, the players and spectators were bewildered as they thought that Lahore had score two runs off that ball.

The rules state that if a ball is adjudged a no-ball by the third umpire after a catch is taken, the runs off the bat on that particular delivery count for zilch.

After innumerable exchanges between the umpires and players, Aleem Dar signaled that Lahore Qalandars had to score two off the last delivery. They managed just a single and the match went into the Super Over.

Just a week before this contest, the Qalandars had lost to Islamabad United during a Super Over — the first in the history of the PSL. This time, they got it right.

The laws of cricket are not as clearly defined and the game provides ample space to the umpires to make decisions according to their interpretations, which sometimes leads to dramatic scenes.

‘We got our minds clouded over that whole simple issue’

In the dying moments of the 2007 World Cup final, the officials failed to get the simplest of the laws right.

The all-important contest was marred by poor weather and was reduced to 38 overs initially. The rain returned during the Sri Lankan innings, which not only affected their momentum but also altered the equation required to bag the most sought-after trophy.

The match could have been decided after 20 overs of the second innings were completed, according to the Duckworth-Lewis method.

But, the umpires insisted that the match could go on despite the lighting conditions getting worse with every ball at a floodlight-less Kensington Oval in Barbados.

Third umpire Rudy Koertzen even suggested that the match could be extended to the next day for the last three overs despite Sri Lanka well and truly out of contention in the final.

The Sri Lankan batsmen had earlier accepted the on-field umpires' — Aleem Dar and Steve Bucknor — suggestion to go off.

Match referee Jeff Crowe later accepted the mistake of carrying on with the proceedings by saying, "We must make sure we look at the black print which says the game is over when the 20 overs have been completed — we got our minds clouded over that whole simple issue."

How is that not a wide?

It is often one particular ball of a contest that turns the match on its head. It was true for the Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants' showdown in the Indian Premier League last year when the fourth delivery of the last over was adjudged to be legal by the umpire despite it being outside the wide-marker.

Rohit Sharma had dispatched Jaydev Unadkat for a six at the cow-corner on the previous ball, and looked to target the on-side region again, as he crossed the line of off-stump with his side requiring 11 runs.

Sharma and Dhoni in action — AFP
Sharma and Dhoni in action — AFP

Unadkat pulled the length of his delivery and tried to bowl it away from Sharma’s reach. The umpire counted it as a legal delivery as Sharma had brought the ball’s trajectory well within his reach.

The decision led to an animated protest by the batsman and, more importantly, it derailed the chase. Two wickets — including Sharma’s — went on the next two balls and Mumbai Indians fell four runs short of the target.


Law 25.2 (a)(ii) states that “the umpire shall not adjudge a delivery as being a Wide” if the batsman “brings the ball sufficiently within his reach to be able to hit it by means of a normal cricket stroke”.

Forced to do more

Australia had to bowl eight extra overs on the fourth day of the Test between Australia and Pakistan in December 2016 at the Gabba due to a misunderstanding between Steven Smith and umpires Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth.

Pakistan were seven-down in the chase of a mammoth 490 on the second-last day of the day/night Test when the Aussie captain asked Gould about the extra time.

The umpires confused it for a request to carry on the final session and the stumps were delayed by 30 minutes.

According to the ICC's Test match playing condition 16.2.1, "the umpires may decide to play an extra 30 minutes (a minimum of eight overs) extra time at the end of any day (other than the last day) if requested by either captain, if in the umpire's opinion, it would bring about a definite result on that day."

Smith later revealed that he wanted the session to be completed on time so that his bowlers could rest. Pakistan benefited from the eight extra overs as they added 51 runs to their total . Asad Shafiq got the opportunity to complete a century.

Pakistan, however, lost the match next day by 39 runs.

But, what for?

On the most iconic days in the country's sporting history, Afghanistan bowler Samiullah Shenwari was stopped from bowling by umpire Steve Davis.

During Afghanistan’s first World Cup outing, which came against Bangladesh in the 2015 edition, the leggie was penalised by the umpire for running on the danger area of the pitch.

The umpire was well within his rights with the authority granted to him by Law 42.12, but it was the way the procedure was carried out that raised many eyebrows.


Law 42.12 requires an umpire to "caution the bowler and inform the other umpire of what has occurred" in the first instance, and also "inform the captain of the fielding side and the batsmen". If in the same innings, the bowler runs on to the danger area again the umpire has to repeat the procedure indicating that it is a final warning.

An umpire is required to warn a bowler twice for running on the danger area before removing him from the attack.

However, the cameras caught the umpire warning Shenwari only once and that also at the end of the over. The ICC, however, clarified that it was the second and final warning.

The first one was never picked up — not by the bowling side, not by the millions of viewers, and neither by the commentators — as Davis was not clear in his gestures and signaling.

The first ball of his next over Shenwari was removed from the attack.


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