Umpires fail to meet standard

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The Independent Online

The umpiring in this one-day series has at best been questionable. In the first match, Marcus Trescothick received a poor lbw decision which almost certainly cost England the match. In this, the fourth game, India could, and probably should, have been two wickets down after seven balls of their innings.

Sachin Tendulkar glanced at the first ball of the innings, from Darren Gough, with his bat outside his pad. There was an obvious deflection, Trescothick, the stand-in wicketkeeper, dived and held a catch of which any keeper would have been proud.

The appeal was unanimous but Mr Mohite gave the batsman the benefit of the doubt. Two things then happened which convinced one that the umpire may at least have feared that he had made the wrong decision. First, he signalled a wide which was ludicrous considering the glaring deflection which he could not have missed.

Then, he called over after only five balls and set off at a great rate to square leg. He had apparently forgotten the wide and all of this adds up to an umpire who was transparently flustered. For what it is worth, the many television replays confirmed that the ball could only have hit the bat.

Matthew Hoggard bowled the second over to Virender Sehwag. The first ball pitched on the off stump and the natural angle of delivery brought it into the right hander the merest fraction. It hit Sehwag on the knee roll of the front foot and would have hit the leg side of the middle stump. After watching the replay many times it was impossible to come up with any reason whereby Sehwag was not out. This time it was Mr Sivaram who found in favour of the batsman before scurrying away to the off side and fidgeting about a good deal thereafter.

The powers-that-be in India decided to use this competition to give their up-and-coming umpires a chance and their most experienced, Venkatraghavan and Jayaprakash, have not been asked to stand. This is fair enough as long as the new men do not feel that the best way forward is to curry favour at home. One could not help wondering if there was not an element of that in both these decisions.