5 controversial decisions taken by the third umpire
The third umpire was introduced in 1992 and over the years, his importance has grown. The great Sachin Tendulkar was the first ever batsman to be given out by a third umpire. He was run-out in the first Test at Durban in the historic series (first series in South Africa after apartheid) and Karl Liebenberg was the third umpire who adjudged Tendulkar out.
A month later, Kepler Wessels became the first batsman to be given out by the third umpire in One-Day Internationals. Rudi Koertzen was the third umpire then.
Today, the third umpire becomes very crucial with the DRS (Decision Review System) in place. He can use all the technology available to him to ensure the right decision has been made. However, there have been quite a few controversial decisions given by the third umpire. Thus, here we look at the 5 most controversial decisions by third umpires.
#5 Andrew Symonds gets a gift from the third umpire (2008)
India’s tour of Australia in 2007/08 was a very good one (with India beating Australia in the Perth Test and then winning the Commonwealth Bank Tri-series), but it also marred by a lot of controversies. And it all started in the second Test in Sydney (at the SCG).
After losing the first Test comprehensively, India were in very good position as they had reduced Australia to 134/6 and were on course to bowl the hosts out cheaply. But Andrew Symonds along with Brad Hogg took Australia closer to 200.
In the 47th over, Ishant Sharma bowled a back of a length delivery on the fourth-stump line. Symonds got a thick edge to Dhoni and refused to walk and to everyone’s surprise umpire Steve Bucknor was unmoved as well. This was the second howler of the game as Ricky Ponting had also refused to walk after being caught down the leg-side.
After a couple of howlers on the field, this time it was the third umpire’s turn to get involved in a controversy. Symonds and Hogg frustrated India with good 7th wicket stand. The score had reached 238/6 and skipper Anil Kumble was bowling his 9th over (56th of the innings).
On the third delivery of that over, Kumble bowled a beauty which pitched on off-stump and it turned a bit (with some extra bounce as well) and Symonds dragged his foot outside the crease and keeper MS Dhoni whipped the bails off in a flash.
Square-leg umpire referred it to the third-umpire who took a look at the replay several times. He looked at different angles and almost all of them suggested that Symonds’ back-foot was in the air when the bails were taken off. However, the third umpire adjudged it not-out contrary to what the on-air commentators and those watching on the television and big-screen felt. This was another controversial decision and Symonds got his 3rd life of the innings.
Later this Test became famous for the Harbhajan-Symonds spat (which occurred in India’s first innings). The poor umpiring continued throughout the Test match as some of those decisions cost India the game.