It’s true that umpires are not a God, but, a human at the job. A human is bound to make mistakes and, no one is 100 percent perfect. But, making mistakes in a job, where you’ve been trained and mastered to avoid so is questionable. The umpiring standards have been one of the talking points in the ongoing Indian Premier League, it has been erroneous to be precise. Mumbai Indians’ skipper, Rohit Sharma was fined 50 percent of his match fees for showing dissent towards the on-field umpire during their recent encounter against Rising Pune Supergiant in Mumbai.
The incident happened at a very crucial juncture, and every delivery at that stage could have made the difference. While chasing 161 runs, Mumbai Indians needed 17 runs off the final over with a well-set Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya at the crease. After a wicket off the very first ball, Jaydev Undakat had a tough task in restricting the hard-hitting Rohit and defend 17 off last five. Rohit hammered a six off the second delivery and the pressure was back to the bowler. The magnitude was high, the density was high, there was drama, there were emotions and every ball was no less than gold dust.
On the third delivery, Rohit walked across the stumps, but the bowler followed him and bowled it away from his reach. Rohit let the delivery go and was expecting it to be called a wide but it wasn’t to be. The umpire thought the other way around as the decision went in the favour of the bowler. As per the rule book, a batsman loses the advantage of a wide, once he shuffles but if one introspects closely, the decision could have gone the other way as the ball was bowled on a thin line.
This left Rohit bewildered as he animatedly walked to the umpire and got involved in a heated conversation. After this, the equation was 11 off three deliveries, which demanded something miraculous to pull it off. Rohit was well capable of creating an upset for RPS, but perhaps, the whole wide ball incident disrupted his focus as he was dismissed on the very next delivery. MI lost the game by a whisker and the third delivery became the topic of discussion. The point is – Rohit is a human, and humans have the tendency to behave in such a manner at such crunch situations.
Rohit’s counterpart – Ajinkya Rahane in a press conference after the game spoke about the behavior of the MI skipper and said, “Rohit’s behaviour at that point was completely natural. As a skipper, as a player, when a game gets so close, it comes automatically; nobody does it intentionally. I don’t think there was anything wrong with his behaviour, but the umpire’s call was right too, for us.”
Most of the cricketers would understand Rohit’s position at that moment and wouldn’t term his animated behaviour wrong. Earlier, when he was reprimanded for a similar reason in their encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders, the replay showed why Rohit was annoyed by the umpire’s decision to rule him out. Rohit inside-edged a delivery onto his pads off Sunil Narine but was adjudged out. A player is bound to react after an erratic decision, and Rohit did no different.
With so many rules associated with the on-field behaviour of a player coming into play, the human aspect is being ruled out. Cricket is not a sport played by robots, but humans, one needs to take into account the human behaviour in such instances. Though at times, players tend to go overboard, which should be scrutinised and appropriate action should be taken but reprimanding players for such petty issues is just overlooking the human aspect of the game.
Not just players, in contemporary cricket – pitches, commentary and many aspects of the game are being standardised. The Pune pitch during the India-Australia Test was deemed poor, while the commentary during the game is too standardised. Why there is so much of standardisation taking place? Was cricket meant to be a standardised sport?
What Rohit did was absolutely a normal and a natural response in such situations. One can expect this to happen even in future. The question is – Should players be fined for such things? Is cricket being too standardised? Where is the human aspect of the game? Why is the focus not being put on bringing balance between bat and ball? All the questions are there and will persist for a while. But players should be given certain liberty to express themselves and not curb their natural instincts at such high-voltage moments. Also, the game becomes stale without intensity and drama.
Also, the umpiring standards in the ongoing Indian Premier League have rather been poor. There have been so many howlers, which is bound to attract criticism. For instance, Rohit’s dismissal against KKR, Jos Buttler’s first two dismissals of the tournament against Rising Pune Supergiant and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively. And the funniest one, when David Warner took strike after hitting a boundary off the last delivery of the previous over against Mumbai Indians.
One of the most intriguing things also coming into play these days is the fact that umpires refer to the third umpire to check with the no-ball on most of the times when a wicket is fallen. The question is – why are the on-field umpires aren’t sure about it at first go? Why do they refer to the third umpire only when a wicket has fallen? What if the bowler has bowled a no-ball and the wicket has not fallen (a usual delivery)? In this scenario, the no-ball will be overlooked. But again, why deliveries that bag wickets are only referred? Too many questions, too fewer answers. But the questions keep piling and one demand answers.