Sundaram Ravi will just have to live with it. There are umpiring errors and umpiring errors and while some of them are either minor or do not have a major impact on the result of the match his overlooking of the no ball sent down by Lasith Malinga in the IPL match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians on Thursday has predictably – and rightly – caused an uproar.
It was the last ball of the match and a right call from Ravi would have given RCB an opportunity to win. The wrong call meant that MI won by six runs. Unfortunately for Ravi it also turned out to be a high profile game and as Virat Kohli fumed “We are playing at the IPL level and not playing club cricket. That’s a ridiculous call off the last ball.’’ Yes, and in a game of small margins umpiring blunders can be decisive.
Ironically Ravi is the only Indian representative in ICC’s elite panel and is regarded as one of the better Indian umpires. However neither he nor the other umpire C Nandan who unfairly signaled a wide in the previous (19th) over have been adversely reported by the match referee Manu Nayyar. Also Ravi is unlikely to be sanctioned due to lack of officials with international experience on the BCCI roster.
There have been a fall in umpiring standards of late in domestic cricket – particularly in the Ranji Trophy – and experts have put this down to a lack of professionalism on the part of the BCCI. It’s been two years since the umpires subcommittee has functioned. In the past a process was followed wherein the umpires were assessed during the year by a panel of former officials.
The umpiring howler has led to calls for greater use of technology. Many former cricketers are of the view that there should be a separate technology to spot no balls while others have said that the third umpire can check for no balls for every delivery. Either way a solution has to be found to this problem which is causing growing annoyance.
Two other separate points too need to be discussed. One, what was Malinga doing bowling a no ball at that critical juncture? A bowler of his skill and experience sending down a no ball off the last delivery of a T-20 match is absolutely unacceptable. Secondly a close look at the photograph of Malinga about to send down that delivery has the tell-tale image of the non-striker (AB de Villiers) still in the crease. Obviously Ravi Ashwin’s run out of Jos Buttler has had the desired impact.