December 2009
« Nov    

Edward Craig: Ponting’s umpire attack

December 8th, 2009 by Edward Craig in Test cricket


No one likes getting things wrong, least of all umpires. So the umpire review system has created serious ambivalence among the officials – it proves them wrong and it proves them right. But the one thing it is meant to do is stop bad decisions.

In the second Test at Adelaide between Australia and West Indies, it has failed in that and caused unnecessary tension.

Quick recap: Umpire Benson gave Chanderpaul not out caught behind. Referred by Ponting – verdict not out. Cue Ponting spitting fit.

Later, Umpire Benson gave Chanderpaul not out caught behind. Referred by Ponting – verdict out, despite no compelling evidence that Benson had erred; some thought he had nicked it, some thought he hadn’t.

The only certainty was doubt – and when there is doubt, the umpire’s original decision stands (doubt, in this situation, should NOT necessarily favour the batsman).

Umpire Benson retires from Test cricket that evening, mid-match, officially citing ill-health but unofficial reports suggest extreme anger with the review system.

Two observations. First, and this was obvious from the outset but crystallized by goings-on, the review system sanctions umpire dissent. This led to Doug Bollinger being fined, Ponting almost sledging umpires and a general discontentment between players and officials. I didn’t expect it to be so bad.

Secondly, if the review system is really going to work well, why do we need neutral umpires? Why should Mark Benson with his (genuine) health problems fly around the world, alongside another jet-lagged, exhausted umpire and be placed under extreme and explicit public scrutiny? Any top Aussie official could do an identical job and enjoy home comforts with a clear mind and – now – a clear conscience.

Maybe the reviews system will settle down and become as successful as the third umpire on run outs. But at present it is adding a layer of complication and ambiguity that one man in one moment used to sort out.

I was a champion of the reviews system. I thought it was a good idea. I now think I was wrong.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Test cricket |

8 Responses to “Edward Craig: Ponting’s umpire attack”

  1.   Duffman says:

    So very wrong…

  2.   Paddy Briggs says:


    Good post. With you 100%. Nice point about neutral umpires too…

  3.   Daniel Brigham says:

    The only thing wrong with the review system is that 3rd umpires aren’t using it correctly.

    As Lawrence Booth writes in his Top Spin, they’re making decisions based on assumptions rather than facts - as soon as they realise they have this wrong then the players will have a greater understanding of it, correct decisions will be made and the system will work fine.

  4.   Winsome says:

    If an umpre doing the reviewing is sure it is out and he was, he can overrule a not-out, can’t he? Which is what he did. Even though he appears to have got it wrong.

    In other words, we are still left with the human side of reffing.

    We have all heard commentators disagree on a close decision and yet be completely sure of what they have seen.

  5.   steve says:

    Trust a pom to over-exaggerate when an Australian is involved

    All I was was Ponting standing there with his hands on his hips looking very disgruntled. The same as a thousand other captains and players when not happy with a decision.

    No spitting fit. No almost sledging the umpire. Only your imagination and bias.

  6.   Anupam says:

    Ponting and quite a few members of the Australian team are known to be unsporting and unworthy of playing this game in the spirit in which it is meant to be played. The idiot should be banned for a year and given a public dressing-down to cool his hot head. Just admit the facts, he is a cheater who given the pedestrian abilities at his disposal nowadays, tries to pester the umpires and resorts to street thug techniques to get results. In the longer form of the game, they are almost at the verge of giving in to a Windies team which has barely recouped from the recent dispute. The errant Australian players should be treated like truant school children and banned from all forms of the game until they learn to behave and not bring the game into disrepute.

  7.   Monster Cable says:

    Yes, although I agree that the review system has been a disappointment so far (I thought it was a great idea but so far it’s not really shined, to say the least) I don’t think Ponting did anything more than usual for just about any captain these days before the review system.
    I do wonder what the ‘Great British Press’ (to use the cliche du jour) will do when Pup takes over? So far, he’s been pleasant, media savvy and generally telegenic. You won’t have Ricky to kick around anymore.

  8.   Ian says:

    Don’t worry Monster, when Clarke takes over we’ll all be even more annoyed given his fondness for rubbing his arm and crying like a baby to cheat the umpires when he gloves it behind.

    I’m all for non-neutral umpires, for want of a better term, but we may now need neutral referral umpires instead.

Leave a Reply

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2009 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved