Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Why umpire Richard Illingworth should be dumped

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It was such a awful no-ball call against Doug Bracewell that the players need a break from Richard Illingworth's officiating. Photo / Getty Images
It was such a awful no-ball call against Doug Bracewell that the players need a break from Richard Illingworth's officiating. Photo / Getty Images

First things first. Umpire Richard Illingworth needs to be dumped from the second cricket test in Christchurch, where he is due to officiate from the video box.

The ICC must make a stand because the Englishman's crazy no-ball call has turned the first test into a sham as the beneficiary, Adam Voges, went on to plunder the Kiwi attack. Illingworth's howler has affected confidence in him, and probably his own confidence. The poor umpire has nowhere to hide, thanks to Voges' sensational run spree.

It was such a awful no-ball call against Doug Bracewell that the players need a break from Illingworth's officiating. Confidence in umpires is vital, and Illingworth's decision-making appears affected with a subsequent wrong no-ball call yesterday against Aussie paceman Jackson Bird.

Bracewell, a fringe test player, deserved so much better, as did the paying crowd, the subscribers at home, and everyone else.

You could argue that decisions like that can harm a man like Bracewell's career.

Radio Sport Cricket Podcast: First test, day 3

Illingworth didn't just diddle New Zealand in Wellington. He stepped over a line, and put the whole of cricket in danger. Because the last thing test cricket needs is anything encouraging more video scrutiny in a game that is slow enough anyway.

If you don't know the circum-stances of the Bracewell disaster, where have you been for the past few days? Illingworth incorrectly no-balled Bracewell, Voges played a no-shot, and the ball clattered into the off stump. Replays showed that Bracewell's front foot wasn't close to being illegal. To say the wicket of Voges is priceless at the moment is like saying Donald Trump hasn't quite mastered the comb over.

Voges was on seven at the time. He went on to make 232. Illingworth's blunder has been outrageously influential and wrecked the credibility of this test match.

Should cricket contemplate a rule change? It didn't look as though Voges' no-shot was influenced by the no-ball call.

However, the ICC is correct to insist that no-balls must stand without review of a non-dismissal. The batsman has all the protection because he can argue anything he did was influenced by the call. There is simply no other argument. It's called natural justice.

But cricket could largely eliminate no-ball mistakes using more video scrutiny. It could, for instance, decide that no live no-ball calls are made, that instead the umpires can check the video when a no-ball is suspected. In compensation, the batting side would get a free hit from the following ball. But fast bowlers are often close to going over the line.

Every time someone such as Illingworth stuffs up, the video replay lobby gets another foothold. Test cricket needs to keep moving, not reviewing.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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