Time and time again the 7th edition of the IPL has come under the scrutiny of the media for more than one reason, the first and most important of which being the Umpiring. The umpiring has been so sub standard that there have consistently been instances of players questioning the umpiring during the game and even after it. Not only has the umpiring been sub standard it has also changed the course of the game in favors of team dramatically. Its effect has been change making so much so that at times you feel that there are three aspects of the game that the players need to have in control: batting, bowling and umpiring!!
Now this has not been a one off thing that seems to have caught the attention of the people but in fact it is something that has been happening on a regular basis. There was an age when umpires used to make their decisions without the help of technology, TV replays, Hot spots, Hawk eye etc. and more often than not their decisions used to be picture perfect and any mistakes that used happen was allowed to be forgiven because well, they did their job by themselves.
But how do you forgive a mistake that happens again and again and again? How can an umpire consult the third umpire for asking whether a delivery is No Ball or not even though the front foot is half way inside the line? How can an umpire ask the third umpire if the ball is a boundary or a six even after the fielder near the boundary has signaled that it is a six? Does the word of the fielder doesn’t matter at all or is it that the umpires have become too lazy to look for the no ball when the ball is actually being delivered?
What has been even more disappointing is the fact that the performance of the Indian umpires in the competition has been even worse. It seems like the standard of umpiring in India is extremely low. There was this particular case in the match between the KXIP vs. RCB, where there was an appeal against Virat Kohli for being caught behind. If you look at the umpire just after the batsman has edged the ball to the keeper he has been looking in the direction of the Leg umpire for asking him whether the catch was legal or not. He ultimately gives his decision and then for some reason the umpires decides to refer to the third umpire. If things weren’t ridiculous already, what happened after this is even more bizarre. The third umpire checked the front foot to see if it was fine, which means he could have reversed the decision if it was a no ball, but even after seeing the fact that the catch was not clean, he gave his decision as out. Kohli didn’t look happy by the decision and he had every right to do so.
Umpires are supposed to be the decision maker, the three men in the game who are supposed to control, maintain discipline and make sure that everything on the field happens according to the code of conduct of the game. But what happens when the players on the field start to question the decisions of the umpires. There was a time when the likes of David Shepherd and Dickie Bird were treated with respect and there existed the tradition of calling the umpires as sir (what we are taught by the coaching institutions when we join clubs in Mumbai). Sadly that tradition doesn’t seem to be the trend in this generation of cricket. There was a time when the decision of umpires was taken as the final word, but these days the umpires themselves doubt their capabilities. Whatever comes out of these events that have been taking place in the IPL might bring a change, but will it be for the good or for bad can only be told by time.