Last few months have been full of debate about the standard of umpiring in international cricket. Be it the fracas in the World Cup or the wrong decisions in the Ashes, the quality of umpires has been talked about intensely. That debate will become even more aggravated after what happened on day 2 of the first Test between Australia and Pakistan at Gabba in Brisbane.
In the first and second session of play, the two on-field umpires – Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth – failed to spot as many as 21 no-balls. This stunning fact was revealed by the host broadcasters Channel 7. The inability of the two umpires to call no-balls may have also contributed to young pacer Naseem Shah failing to get his first international wicket.
- In the first two sessions of day 2, bowlers overstepped 21 times without being no-balled
- Naseem Shah thought he got David Warner out but it was a no-ball
- Many no-balls by Shah were not called, probably why he didn't correct his mistake
In the first session of the day, replays showed Naseem bowling two consecutive no-balls that the umpire failed to call. Shortly after the play began in the next session, the 16-year old bowler had David Warner caught behind. While the teenager and his teammates were celebrating the wicket, umpires decided to check for a no-ball. To the horror of the Pakistan team, Naseem had indeed overstepped.
Now, it is reasonable to think that if the umpires had called the pacer for overstepping earlier, he would probably have made amendments to his run-up and not continued going over the line. In that case, on the delivery that Warner edged, his foot may well have stayed behind the crease.
It's clear that umpires failing to recognise no-balls and penalising the bowlers doesn't just deny the batting side a run and an extra delivery that they are entitled to but also works against the bowling team. This controversy comes at a time when the International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering having the third umpire monitor the no-balls situation.
After this brilliant revelation by Channel 7, many fans and ex-cricketers reacted and put forward their opinions and suggestions. Former cricketer and commentator Dean Jones said that coaches at the grassroots level should correct this problem in young cricketers.
"This no-ball problem and why bowlers continue to go close to the line.. it's an early coaching solution.. fix it at an early age. Young bowlers must learn to have their whole foot behind the line," Jones wrote on Twitter.
Ireland cricketer Kevin O'Brien also chipped in with his observation. "Imagine if it was an ODI/T20... 21 free hits! Issue needs to be looked at and fixed ASAP. I remember an ODI series between England and Pakistan a few years ago, where the fourth umpire looked at front foot and informed on field umpire if fair delivery or not."
Hopefully, both the Richards would improve their umpiring on day 3 and not overlook no-balls when they are bowled.