It might not have had much of a bearing on the result of the match, but the third umpire might have looked at the wrong replay when the on-field officials turned to him to check on a no-ball during the match between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Jasprit Bumrah is no stranger to bowling no-balls – his costliest one coming in last year’s Champions Trophy final – but he got away without scrutiny when he dismissed Umesh Yadav, the eighth Royal Challengers batsman to fall, on Tuesday. The on-field umpire immediately asked to see if he had overstepped. The replay shown, though, has Umesh at the non-striker’s end, and the heel of Bumrah’s front foot lands well inside the crease. The commentators were surprised that it was even checked. “No need to go [to the third umpire] for that,” commentator Sunil Gavaskar said on air.
It went unnoticed that Umesh was in the picture at the non-striker’s end until Twitter user @ronak_169 brought it to ESPNcricinfo’s notice. While this was not significant to the result – Royal Challengers were 137 for 7, chasing 214, with only 13 balls left – it once again raises the possibility of this human error in more critical stages of the match. Nor is this the first time that the third umpire has ruled on a no-ball when watching the wrong replay.
In the 2011 IPL, Sachin Tendulkar was ruled out similarly. The first two replays showed that the bowler Amit Mishra was close to overstepping, but a third angle, from cover, had him just okay. It was later noticed that in the third replay, Tendulkar was at the non-striker’s end. Later that year, in a Test match in Barbados, MS Dhoni was ruled out off a no-ball even though on-field umpire Ian Gould suspected Fidel Edwards had overstepped and went upstairs to check. The wrong replay was shown to the third umpire on that occasion, which the broadcasters, IMG Media, then admitted as “a human error, compounded by a senior replay operative having to return home at a very short notice”. There must be others that go unnoticed.
This kind of error often occurs when the replay operator clicks twice, thus going to the previous ball and missing the ball in question. In this case, Umesh was indeed at the non-striker’s end one ball before he got out. There is no plausible reason for this to be anything other than an innocent human mistake, but such an error has the potential to attain major significance in a tight situation.
In this particular instance, perhaps the third umpire could have been more vigilant. Perhaps checking who is at the non-striker’s end when checking for no-balls can be added to the third umpire’s protocols, but by no means is it an exhaustive check: in this case, for example, if the previous ball had been a dot played out by Umesh, a wrong replay would have shown Virat Kohli at the non-striker’s end.
The trickiest part of the situation is the delegation of the decision-making arm to the broadcaster, which is not neutral in international cricket. The ICC doesn’t pay for the technology used for decision making, which means it cannot hold the broadcasters accountable for any errors. If ICC does assume control of the decision making, the money will have to ultimately come from the member boards’ share of profits, which reduces the likelihood of this happening in the near future.