It seems Umpire Steve Davies of Australia, who over-saw the crucial second Test between India and South Africa at Durban, was in "high spirits" - quite literally! The South African team claims to have spotted him in a drunken state on the eve of the encounter.
Umpire Davies was responsible for two wrong judgements in the course of the Test, both going against the hosts. On Day 3, he denied South African pacer Dale Steyn, Zaheer Khan's wicket by turning down a valid lbw appeal, thus allowing the batsman to notch up an important 70-run partnership with VVS Laxman that took India's lead past 300.
Then, on the final day, umpire Davies gave Proteas wickekeeper Mark Boucher out leg-before in another controversial decision. Indian speedster Zaheer Khan, bowling around the wicket to the right- hander, got the ball to rap Bouncher on his back pad and even though the batsman wasn't offering a shot, the ball would have gone on to miss the stumps.
So was the umpire really seeing double? Whatever the case, the vanquished South African team is now strongly considering lodging a complaint against the allegedly inebriated official. The South Africans say they saw the Australian "in a drunken condition" at the Umhlanga hotel where the teams and officials were staying in Durban.
Afrikaan daily Beeld, quoted sources from the team saying that they had often seen the umpire at a particular bar over the past week and he was also seen stumbling into the Sandton Hotel in the early hours of the morning during the opening Test in Centurion. Vincent van der Bijl, head of the ICC referees Panel, said he was aware of the "stunning" allegation but refused to comment further saying "established procedures will be followed once an official complaint is received."
The South Africans' woes were complete when the other umpire Asad Rauf, also on the all-important last day of the Test, gave middle-order batsman A B de Villiers, leg-before to a ball from Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh that evidently hit the batsman too high on the pads.
However, it defies logic that the hosts' claim comes only after they were defeated in the second Test. If they had had an issue with the umpire being drunk, they should have taken it up with the concerned authorities immediately after witnessing Davies' incriminating behaviour. After all, the South Africans aren't playing sore losers now, are they?