Bridgetown: With the number of doubtful umpiring decisions on the ascent, just past the half-way stage of the five-Test series, both India and West Indies have expressed their disappointment over the repeated blunders by the men in long white coats.
"Looking at the way things have gone, I would say perhaps it is time to have an independent third umpire as well," legendary fast bowler Michael Holding said. "I have been counting since the start of the first Test and can cite 14 decisions that can at best be termed doubtful," Holding, now a commentator, wrote in his column. "I can understand the umpires in the middle, who make split-second decisions getting it wrong, but how on earth can the third umpire get a decision wrong after seeing so many replays and having so much time? "Such a decision would suggest he should not be umpiring and should be doing something else instead," Holding blasted third umpire Eddie Nichols who ruled Shivnaraine Chanderpaul not out on the last day of the second Test. With only a handful of runs to score, Chanderpaul guided a Javagal Srinath delivery into the gloves of Ajay Ratra but Nichols flashed the green light when the ground umpire asked to clarify whether it was a bumped ball or not. Nichols couldn't be reached at the end of the match but referee Ranjan Madugalle came to his defence saying, "The umpire couldn't make out if the ball was bump or not." Holding's count of 14 was before the start of the third Test at Kensington Oval last week in which West Indies skipper Carl Hooper enjoyed the third umpire's favour at a critical juncture. India played poorly to be all out for 102 on the first day of the Test but was convinced it had Hooper run-out at the non-striker's end on the second day. Only, third umpire Wily Doctrove ruled in the batsman's favour. Hooper was on 15 and the West Indies was 220 for four and Indians were left bemoaning the decision much after the final ball of the Test was bowled. What made matters worse for Doctrove was Hoopers' admission that he was out. "I had a look at the replay in the evening of the game and it looked to me as if I was short of crease," Hooper wrote in his column. Doctrove himself offered a meek explanation when he said the pictures he saw on television were not conclusive. India's captain Saurav Ganguly also could not hide his disappointment when he said after India's 10-wicket thrashing that, "A few things have happened in this Test which I don't want to comment upon but they could have still put the game back onto its course." Ganguly was more forthright in his column when he echoed Holding saying "I could understand if umpires on the field of play made a mistake as they had to make a split second decision but for a third umpire to have a look at the replays 50 times and yet arrive at a wrong decision was awful. "Some of the errors made here are so basic that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the game can see them," wrote Holding. "Leg before decisions have been given when the ball has pitched well outside the leg stump and the decision concerning Chanderpaul can only be called ridiculous," he said. Chanderpaul had a reprieve in the second innings of the Port of Spain Test but in the first innings he was downright unlucky when a ball pitched outside the leg stump was ruled by Australian umpire Daryl Harper good enough for an lbw verdict. With International Cricket Council (ICC) set to increase the role of TV umpires the glaring mistakes came as a dampener. The apex body has decided to refer even leg before decisions to third umpire on an experimental basis in the forthcoming ICC knock out trophy to be played in Sri Lanka in September. Concerned with the criticism levelled at its umpires by media, cricketers and public in general, ICC appointed an elite bunch of neutral umpires to provide greater consistency and accuracy in their rulings. But the verdicts by two of its showpiece men, Asoka de Silva of Sri Lanka and Harper in the three Tests so far, have been ordinary.
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