Irani Cup underlines issues with umpiring standards

The BCCI, for some reason, have not appointed the best and the most experienced umpires for the most important games of the season. It has resulted in umpires committing errors that have impacted results.

“Umpiring karte kyun ho (why do you even officiate)?”

Not often do we see a first-class cricketer turn around after being at the receiving end of an umpiring error and spontaneously react. Parthiv Patel, the Gujarat captain, did so after being adjudged caught bat-pad on the third day of the Irani Cup tie when the ball appeared to be nowhere close to his bat.

So upset was the Ranji-winning captain that the seasoned pro headed straight to the match referee Chinmay Sharma’s cabin after taking his pads off. At the end of the day’s play, when asked about what the stump mike caught him as saying to umpire Virender Sharma, Patel said, “I can’t do anything about it. I cannot make any comment about it. I obviously will get charged for what I have done. If I say something about it…. It’s in the rule and everyone has seen it, so I cannot say anything about the decision.”

Umpire Sharma, who had handed Tamil Nadu’s Dinesh Karthik an atrocious leg-before decision in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Mumbai earlier in the month, was later involved in another bad call.

Mohit Thadani, the last of the recognised Gujarat batsman, appeared to have missed a full delivery from Shahbaz Nadeem; the ball pitched into the ground after passing the bat, thudded on to the pad and lobbed to Manoj Tiwary in the slips. As revealed by Nadeem later, the bowler appealed for lbw and the umpire upheld the appeal. While walking back in disgrace, Thadani gestured to the umpire he had nicked the ball. If the batsman had nicked it, it couldn’t have been leg-before and since the ball had bounced on the surface, he couldn’t have been caught either. Still, Thadani had to return to the change room.

Sub-standard umpiring

Both the incidents, in a way, summed up the quality of umpiring throughout the season. The BCCI, for some reason, have not appointed the best and the most experienced umpires for the most important games of the season. It has resulted in umpires committing errors that have impacted results.

Even in the league stage, the umpiring standards have been mediocre. Since the players and coaches are not allowed to comment about it in public, they — just like Parthiv Patel — refrain to say anything on record. But in private discussion, at least half a dozen captains and coaches of Ranji teams have complained about umpiring standards.

To add to the teams’ misery, for the last couple of seasons, the BCCI has even stopped seeking a report from the captains of both the teams at the end of a first-class game, which also addressed umpiring issues, if any. All the teams can hope for is to raise the concerns in the captains and coaches conclave during the off-season and hope they are addressed in future.