Rain break and Umpiring!!!
One awaits Match Referee's review of the footage and his action on the way the umpires conducted the operations during the rain break on the 4th evening
On the final evening of the four day Ranji Trophy match between Tamil Nadu and Assam played at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai (November 1-4, 2010), one witnessed some glaring errors from two very reputed umpires- AM Saheba and Sanjay Hazare, both international umpires.
With Tamil Nadu chasing 120 to win, they seemed on track at 84/2 when a sudden heavy downpour forced the players to go in at around 345pm. After a 15-20minute rain spell, the grounds men used the sponge sopper to remove the water from the tarpaulin that had been laid out across the pitch covering the entire 30yard area around the wicket.
Then came the rather shocking sequence of events.
No inspection of the wicket/bowler’s run up after the rain
AM Saheba, who had just given of what seemed to be a couple of rough decisions (Abhinav LBW when the batsman seemed to indicate that it had hit his bat and Dinesh Karthik caught at short leg of the reverse sweep- when the batsman seemed to indicate that it had not hit his bat) prior to the rain break, did not inspect the pitch, the bowlers run up or the 30 yard area after the tarpaulin was removed once the rain had stopped and the sponge sopper had been used.
Only one umpire comes back into the ground during the rain break
The other umpire Sanjay Hazare did not enter the field even once from the time the play was stopped for rain till the time he accompanied his partner Saheba for resumption of play at around 430pm.
When asked at the end of the match as to why he did not inspect the pitch or bowlers run up or the 30yard area, Saheba denied not having inspected and said that he did inspect the pitch, bowlers run up and the square before taking the decision to re-start play. When this writer told him that not once did he go anywhere near the wicket after the tarpaulin was removed, Saheba stuck to ‘I did inspect the wicket and the bowler’s run up and it was fit to start’.
Asked as to why his colleague Sanjay Hazara did not come out on to the ground to check the ground conditions, he said that Hazara was making the calculations on the remaining overs.
When this writer asked the Match referee Rajendrasinh Jadeja as to how Saheba came to the conclusion that the pitch and bowler’s run up on both ends were fine for the play to recommence without having inspected the pitch or bowler’s run up, he said he was inside, in the room, with Sanjay Hazare making the overs calculation and that Saheba came back from the ground and told him that he had inspected the pitch and bowler’s run up and that it was fit to re-start.
Asked as to how Saheba took a call himself without the other umpire, the match referee said that this was team work. 'While Saheba was inside the ground, Hazara was finalizing the over count as a result of loss of play' said Jadeja.
This meant that the call to resume play based on the ground conditions being fit was taken by one umpire i.e Saheba while his colleague Sanjay Hazare was busy inside the room making the overs calculations.
Can one umpire make the decision on the ground regarding the fitness of the ground without the presence of the other umpire?
A reading of Law 3 seems to indicate that the umpires may have violated this law.
‘It is the responsibility of the umpires to monitor the conditions and they must make inspections as often as appropriate, unaccompanied by any of the players or officials. Immediately the umpires together agree that conditions are suitable, they will call upon players to resume the game.’
In this case, only one umpire re-entered the ground during the entire period of the rain break. He did not inspect the pitch or bowler’s run up after the tarpaulin was removed. And he took a singular call (and not a joint call with the other umpire) that the ground was fit to play.
While Saheba denied this writer’s comment that he did not inspect the pitch or bowler’s run up (Match referee also said that Saheba told him that he inspected the pitch and bowler’s run up), the match referee Rajendrasinh Jadeja told this writer that the entire sequence of events during the rain break up has been captured by the video camera and that as part of the process, he would review the video footage and take appropriate action if the footage indicated that Saheba did not inspect the pitch or the bowler’s run up or the square.
It will be interesting to see how this story develops over the next 48hours and also as to what kind of action Srinivas Venkataraghavan takes in this case of just one umpire having come back into the ground (during the entire period of disruption of play) to check the ground condition and the other umpire re entering the field only for the resumption of play.
Immediately after the play re-commenced after the rain break, the fast bowler who was to bowl the 2nd over after the rain break informed the umpire (Sanjay Hazara) that the bowler’s run up was slippery and asked for saw dust. During the time, the saw dust was brought up by the groundsmen, the ball was with the fielder at Mid off. The umpires failed to take possession of the ball during this short interruption which lasted for about 2minutes. It seemed to be an ‘off evening’ for the two umpires.
One of the players that the writer spoke said that they did ask as to how the match was re-started without inspecting the pitch, the run up.
However, Amol Muzumdar, the captain of the Assam, team refused to make any comment stating he was bound by the code of conduct and that he cannot say anything regarding this. He also refused to say if his team would lodge an official protest with the match referee.
As part of the process, match referees do view the footage from the Ranji matches and initiate action whether there are any special 'events' in the match. One will have to wait for the verdict from the Match referee after his review of the footage!!!
For the record, TN won the match by 7wickets.