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World Cup blunder a “fundamental technique”: former leading cricket umpire

Former ICC Umpire of the Year Simon Taufel has told Macquarie Sports Radio that the mistake by the umpires in the Cricket World Cup Final can’t be written off as an obscure rule because it’s part of a “fundamental technique” for match officials.

With England needing 9 to win off 3 balls, Ben Stokes pushed a ball into the deep. When diving to make his ground for the second run, the ball ricocheted off his bat and went to the boundary much to New Zealand’s despair.

The umpires, Sri Lankan Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus from South Africa, gave England 6 runs – the two that were run plus the four bonus runs when the ball went to the rope.

The game ended up being tied and England won their first title on a boundary countback after a tied Super Over.

However in the aftermath of the extraordinary game, eagle eyed cricket fanatics spotted a crucial mistake made by the umpires that could have changed the game drastically.

A little known law of the game states that when there are overthrows, the batting team only gets the extra runs, any they have completed and the run they are undertaking IF they have crossed before the ball is thrown.

Replays revealed that Martin Guptill released the ball well before the batsmen had crossed meaning that the correct decision was to award England 5, not 6 runs. In addition, the batsmen would have had to swap ends meaning that it would’ve been spinner Adil Rashid rather than the very dangerous Stokes on strike for the penultimate delivery.

Talking to David Morrow and Mat Thompson, Taufel dismissed suggestions that Law 19.8 isn’t one that the umpires would routinely know:

“It is actually, to be honest. It’s a fundamental of scoring runs. There’s a routine and a technique with every delivery that the umpires need to make sure the batsman make good their ground, that the fielders don’t illegally field the ball and that the umpires watch when the ball is thrown to make sure that it stays within the field of play and if overthrows do occur they understand where the batsmen were when that throw started.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s trivial because it’s something that the umpires look for every delivery, whenever runs are scored and the ball goes into the field. It is quite a fundamental technique.

“We try to watch the right things at the right time and occasionally the two umpires just haven’t got their heads together and got this one right.”

However he stopped short of pinning the result on the umpires.

“I must stress that one ball doesn’t determine a winner and a loser in a game.

“A lot of focus has been placed on this but who knows what might have happened in those last couple of balls. There are a lot of would bes and could bes and what ifs in sport and this is just one of them,” Taufel said.

He also clarified that even if the umpires had had a suspicion that there may have been an issue, they couldn’t have sent it upstairs for checking.

“We need to be cognisant of the fact that not everything can go to the third umpire. This is one of those cases where they’re not able to get involved in a review or a referral. And that’s why the umpires on the day have to be as focused and vigilant as possible. Just like the players they have to minimise their mistakes to make sure they come out on top as well.”

Click PLAY below to listen to the interview.

Morrow & Thompson