• Friday, December 09, 2022

CRICKET

Bangladesh call for neutral umpires after S. Africa controversy

Bangladesh’s batsman Mominul Haque (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Sarwar Alam

Bangladesh called for the return of neutral umpires in international cricket after claiming “inconsistent” decisions put them at a disadvantage in the first Test against South Africa currently being played in Durban.

Umpires from host countries have been used exclusively since 2020, when the pandemic imposed worldwide travel restrictions.

South African umpires Marais Erasmus and Adrian Holdstock are standing in the Durban Test, where Bangladesh have been on the wrong end of several close calls in the second innings.

Dean Elgar was given not out on the field by Erasmus in the fifth over after being hit on his back leg, but tracking technology showed the ball only clipping the stumps and so he survived by virtue of “umpire’s call”.

Soon after they successfully overturned Holdstock’s surprising not out lbw decision against Sarel Erwee which was shown to be plumb.

Seven overs later Khaled Ahmed was denied an lbw decision against Keegan Petersen. This time Bangladesh tried to preserve their dwindling quota of reviews and did not go upstairs. But replays showed it should have been given out.

Elgar made 64 and Petersen 36 leaving Bangladesh team director Khaled Mahmud exasperated when he spoke to reporters after play.

“A few decisions went against us, which if they had come our way, we would have probably been chasing 180 runs instead of 270,” he said.

“We of course respect umpires… But to be frank, I saw such inconsistent umpiring after many days.

“Now the whole world has opened up, hopefully the ICC will consider giving neutral umpires.”

All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who is sitting out the match, was among a chorus of Bangladeshi social media users criticising the umpires.

“I think it’s time for #ICC to go back to neutral umpires as Covid situation is ok in most cricket playing countries,” Shakib tweeted.

Respected coach Nazmul Abedin, a mentor to many Bangladesh players, was more forthright.

“The umpires are clearly favouring the home team in terms of all the close calls… SHAME !!!” he wrote.

Bangladesh bowled out the Proteas for 204 runs in the second innings on Sunday’s fourth day and need 274 runs to win.

But the tourists were tottering at 11-3 at the close as they chase a first Test win against South Africa.

The fifth and final day is on Monday.

Eastern Eye

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