Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd termed it one of the worst umpiring decisions ever, Tom Moody stated Usman Khawaja has the right to knock on the umpires door and ask ‘HOW’, Michael Vaughan jested ‘And you say people should walk’ while Dean Jones termed it ‘bullshit’. These are just few of the reactions thatpoured in after the unbelievable DRS-enabled shocker handed out to Khawaja on the opening day of the third Ashes Test played at Old Trafford in Manchester. And, with Cricket Australia (CA) seeking an explanation from the ICC as to how the decision was arrived at, we surely haven’t heard the last of it yet.
This was no ordinary call, and thus CA, and Khawaja in particular, have the right to know on what basis the batsman was adjudged caught behind. The fact that Tony Hill gave Khawaja out caught behind in the first place was no issue. What was shocking was that the erroneous decision wasn’t overturned even after being reviewed. There was a sound yes, but the Hot Spot did not show anything, so basically the sound could have been the bat brushing against the pad. Video evidence showed that the Khawaja’s bat had indeed hit the pad.
Unfortunately, the Hawk Eye technology is not available to umpires since it is too costly. So basically, the umpire had to make a decision based on a sound even as the Hot Spot showed no edge. If the Hot Spot is indeed being used to check for an edge, then there was enough evidence to overturn the original decision. But, Hill still went with his original decision and sent Khawaja on his way, a raised finger which was followed by numerous reactions on Twitter by ex-cricketers and commentators, most of them outraged.
Now, let’s not blame third umpire Kumar Dharmasena alone. As per the rules, his job is to tell the on-field umpire of the evidence that he has seen, and then let the on-field umpire take the call. So, in this case, Dharmasena would have communicated to Hill that he can hear an edge, but there is nothing on Hot Spot. This means Hill based his decision on his own instinct, concluding that what he had heard while making the original choice to give Khawaja out was indeed an edge. That is the only reason why he must have raised his finger in spite of the replays showing otherwise.
Again, as per the rule books, a third umpire cannot make a decision in case of a DRS review. The question that must be asked is, why not. In this instance, Dharmasena had enough evidence to tell Hill that his decision was wrong and that Khawaja hadn’t hit the ball. But, what he must have told Hill was actually, ‘sound yes, Hot Spot no, your call’. So basically, the third umpire couldn’t reverse the decision in spite of knowing that it was a wrong one. With the controversy taking such a big turn, it is imperative for Hill and Dharmasena to explain the conversation that took place between them. If for nothing else then only for the men in charge to try and ensure that such brutal mistakes aren’t repeated often.
--By A Cricket Analyst