During the many unreal moments that marked the last few overs of the World Cup final between England and New Zealand an umpiring error went unnoticed, a fact confirmed by former ICC Elite panel umpire Simon Taufel. Two on-field umpires, Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus, awarded six runs, instead of five, to an overthrow from Martin Guptill in the 50th over during England’s run chase.
This was despite the fact that the two batsmen, Ben Stokes and Adil Rashid, didn’t cross, as they went for a second run and the ball accidentally deflected off Stokes’s bat to the boundary. This was an error of judgement on the part of the umpires and awarding six runs contradicted MCC’s Law 19.8. Taufel, now a member of the MCC laws sub-committee, confirmed that the match officials made a “mistake”. Also, Rashid should have faced the next ball.
“It’s a clear mistake … it’s an error of judgment. They (England) should have been awarded five runs, not six.” Taufel, who won the ICC’s Umpire of Year award five times, told foxsports.com.au.
What the rule book says when it comes to overthrows
The operative part in this case is “...together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act” in Law 19.8, described in the story. While going for a second run, if Ben Stokes and Adil Rashid had crossed before or at the instant Martin Guptill threw the ball, the second run would have counted, along with four overthrows. With the umpires making an “error” and interpreting it that way, an extra run was added to England’s total, which allowed Stokes to face the next ball from Trent Boult. But TV replays showed the batsmen didn’t cross. So, five runs – the first completed single and four overthrows – should have been added to England’s total. And as the second run wasn’t completed at the point of release from the fielder, Rashid should have been on strike for the next ball instead of Stokes.
England were chasing 242 for victory and with nine runs needed off the final three deliveries, Stokes and Rashid went for a second, when Guptill’s throw from deep mid-wicket ricocheted off Stokes’s bat and went for a four. After consultation, Dharmasena and Erasmus awarded six runs to England, which brought the equation down to three off two balls and also allowed Stokes to keep strike.
Law 19.8 of the MCC rulebook states: “If the boundary results from an overthrow or from the wilful act of a fielder, the runs scored shall be any runs for penalties awarded to either side and the allowance for the boundary and the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act.”
Going by the rulebook, it should have been five runs (one plus four) because TV replays showed Stokes and Rashid didn’t cross at the instant Guptill threw the ball. The equation should have been four runs off the final two deliveries, with tail-ender Rashid facing the next ball. Stokes faced the next two balls instead and scored two runs to take the game to Super Over, where England trumped New Zealand on boundary-count.
The matter wasn’t referred to the TV umpire, Rod Tucker. Asked about this, an ICC official told The Indian Express: “No, the umpires take decisions on the field of play with their interpretations of the rules and we don’t comment on any decisions as a matter of policy.”
Taufel, too, defended the match officials, saying: “In the heat of what was going on, they thought there was a good chance the batsmen had crossed at the instant of the throw.” He added: “Obviously TV replays showed otherwise.”
Taufel also explained the degree of difficulty that Dharmasena and Erasmus faced: “The difficulty you (umpires) have here is you’ve got to watch batsmen completing runs, then change focus and watch for the ball being picked up, and watch for the release. You also have to watch where the batsmen are at that exact moment.”
While the ex-umpire acknowledged that the decision “influenced the game”, he said it would be “unfair” to say it decided the outcome. “It’s unfair on England, New Zealand and the umpires involved to say it decided the outcome,” Taufel said, while describing Dharmasena and Erasmus as “the best of the best”.
Lord’s witnessed one of England’s biggest sporting triumphs on Sunday, along with the 1966 Fifa World Cup win and the 2003 rugby World Cup win. And it’s a coincidence that like the 1966 football World Cup final, yesterday also, there was an element of controversy. Fifty-three years ago at Wembley, it was Geoff Hurst’s controversial extra-time goal, which tilted the balance in England’s favour against West Germany. At Lord’s, it was the overthrow.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra, however, called it the ‘Bat of God’ a la Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ against England in the 1986 football World Cup. “We had the Hand Of God all those years ago…. We saw the Bat Of God at Lord’s today. Those four extra runs off Stoke’s bat….phew,” he tweeted.
But Man of the Match Stokes was apologetic. “I said to Kane Williamson, I will be apologising for that for the rest of my life,” the Christchurch-born England allrounder said after the match. The New Zealand captain, who was given a standing ovation at the post-match press conference, was gracious in defeat. “I don’t wish to nitpick, just hope it never happens in such moments ever again,” Williamson said.