Ranji controversy: Demand for DRS grows

Ranji controversy: Demand for DRS grows

HOWZAT? There were many decisions from this semifinal alone that came under scrutiny and they were not always against Karnataka. DH PHOTO/SRIKANTA SHARMA R

Hard done by a few umpiring howlers, Karnataka players were reduced to tears following their Ranji Trophy semifinal loss to Saurashtra here on Monday.   

Cheteshwar Pujara was ruled not out by onfield umpire from Baroda Khalid Saiyed when on 34 in the second innings. The star India batsman had clearly edged an R Vinay Kumar delivery but the umpire surprisingly missed the nick. The same umpire had reprieved Pujara in the first innings as well when the right-hander was on one and went on to add 44 more to his individual tally. Pujara went on to slam an unbeaten 131 to seal the deal for Saurashtra. The second successive defeat in the semifinal left Karnataka dejected and its players downcast.

An upset Sudhakar Rao, KSCA Secretary, dashed off a letter to the BCCI demanding the Board to recruit the best men for the job.

“After all the hard work for six months if you lose a chance to enter the Ranji final because of umpiring errors it’s heart-breaking," lamented Rao while speaking to DH. "Many players were crying after the game. I spoke to Saba Karim (BCCI GM, Chief Operations) and demanded elite umpires for matches like these. He told me that lack of availability is an issue. Is that Karnataka's fault? I have written a letter to the BCCI. In fact, at the end of the game, the match referee apologised to me, for whatever happened,” Rao said.   

At the BCCI annual domestic captains and coaches' conclave in March last year, the poor standard of umpiring in domestic cricket was one of the major topics discussed. Almost a year later, there seems to be little change in script to the long-standing malaise. There were many decisions from this semifinal alone that came under scrutiny and they were not always against Karnataka.    

While quality of umpires has always been an issue, this time BCCI faced shortage of umpires also after the introduction of nine new teams to the Ranji Trophy from this season.   

Many experienced Indian umpires in the past have argued that they are the easy targets. They have pointed out that while bad decisions are harshly judged, not many speak about good umpiring. But some calls have been so glaring that even big players, known for their composure, have lost their cool on the field.

“Gujarat’s skipper Parthiv Patel, during the 2017-18 Irani Cup, had lashed out an umpire saying ‘tum umpiring kyun karte hon? (Why do you even umpire?) when he was wrongly adjudged out. During the latest controversial episode, the seasoned R Vinay Kumar was uncharacteristically animated, asking the umpire to wear spectacles if he can’t see.

Using umpire Decision Review System, at least during the knockout stages of such prestigious tournament, could help reduce such grievances. 

“Umpires are human too. Even someone as great as Steve Bucknor was axed for giving wrong judgement. I don’t think stress is an issue because they get the best of the facilities these days. It’s just that they too have bad days. But the introduction of the DRS could be a positive development but budget could be an issue for the BCCI,” former international umpire AV Jayaprakash told DH.

Karnataka coach Yere Goud too batted for DRS. “One of the reasons why batsmen don’t walk despite nicking the ball is because they have been wrongly judged in the past in domestic cricket. I definitely feel the use of DRS will end all confusions,” he said.

It remains to be seen if the BCCI decides to use technology from next season so as to minimise howlers, even if it means compensating the broadcaster for the extra expenses.