New Zealand cricket fans woke to outrage this morning after Kiwi umpire Chris Gaffaney produced a howler of a decision in the World Cup match between the West Indies and Australia.

The ball before West Indies dangerman Chris Gayle was dismissed, the 43-year old former Otago batsman, turned umpire, overlooked a big no-ball from Aussie quick Mitchell Starc. If it had been discovered, the wicket ball would have been a free hit.

Cricket legend Michael Holding slammed the umpires in Australia's clash against the West Indies, branding them "atrocious" and "weak" after several controversial calls. Footage / SKY Sport

But Gaffaney's blunder is not the worst decision ever seen. In fact, it's not even the worst call by a New Zealander and certainly not the worst in the (somewhat chequered) history of the World Cup.

Here are some of the worst decisions (with a distinct Kiwi flavour):


8. Billy Bowden, Australia v South Africa, 3rd test (Sydney 2006)

Aussie King of Spin Shane Warne finds a rough patch way outside the off-stump of South African batsman Ashwell Prince.

The ball turns square and hits Prince, on 119 in the South African first innings, as he pads up.

Kiwi umpire Billy Bowden's crooked index finger curls up without a moment's hesitation but the ball-tracker clearly shows the ball missing the off-stump, prompting iconic commentator Tony Greig to quip: "It's only missed by about 6 inches."

7. Shaun Haig, New Zealand v India, 2nd Twenty20, (Auckland 2019)

Daryl Mitchell had the poor fortune of encountering a DRS shocker in just his second international match.

Mitchell was given out lbw to spinner Krunal Pandya in the second Twenty20 at Eden Park, but the all-rounder quickly reviewed after consultation with captain Kane Williamson, indicating that he felt he had hit the ball.

That was what the review seemed to show as well, with the "Hotspot" technology showing a mark on Mitchell's bat. There was no such mark when the ball passed the bat on "Snicko", but replays also seemed to confirm an inside edge.

However, Kiwi third umpire Shaun Haig didn't see enough evidence for him to overturn the decision, potentially favouring Snicko over Hotspot, and with ball-tracking showing that the delivery would have gone on to hit the stumps, Mitchell was given out.

Daryl Mitchell fell victim to a DRS shocker in his second international match. Photo / Photosport
Daryl Mitchell fell victim to a DRS shocker in his second international match. Photo / Photosport

The issue didn't end there though, with Williamson throwing his hands in the air in complaint and Mitchell delaying his exit, leaving the on-field umpires to discuss.


Indian captain Rohit Sharma and experienced campaigner MS Dhoni gathered around as confusion reigned, but in the end Mitchell had to respect the umpire's decision and depart with just a solitary run to his name.

After the match, the Black Caps were still flummoxed about what had transpired, with spinner Ish Sodhi saying the dismissal was "shocking".

The Black Caps went on to lose the game by seven wickets.

6. Richard Illingworth, New Zealand v Australia, 1st test, (Wellington 2016)

An Adam Voges let-off left New Zealand livid during their test series against Australia in 2016.

Just months after Nigel Llong's infamous blunder (see No 2 below), umpire Richard Illingworth made a similarly costly error in another trans-tasman test.

Australian batsman Voges was bowled by a Doug Bracewell 'no-ball' on seven in the final over of the opening day of the two-test series.

But Illingworth made the decision, on a delivery later shown to be legitimate, and Voges took advantage, not erring again until his dismissal for 239.

Fury existed within the Black Caps camp after the team received apologies and reassurances from the ICC that there would be no repeat of Llong's Nathan Lyon hotspot incident.

ICC match referee Chris Broad admitted that the mistake was "clearly embarrassing".

The Black Caps lost by an innings and 52 runs.

5. Donald Weser/Peter Cronin, Australia v New Zealand, ODI (Melbourne 1981)

Martin Snedden took a stunning outfield catch running forward during the infamous "underarm" one day match at the MCG, except it wasn't.

Snedden's word was good enough for Richie Benaud, the king of commentators.

The great man said: "There's no question in my mind...that's one of the best catches I've ever seen in my life."

But batsman Greg Chappell, the Aussie captain, stood his ground refusing to take Snedden's word.

Lo and behold, a couple of Aussie umpires told Chappell to bat on.

4. Doug Cowie, New Zealand v England, 3rd test, (Auckland 2002)

Seamer Andre Adams' first test wicket came in somewhat fortuitous circumstances when a seaming delivery missed the outside edge of English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff's bat - yet Kiwi umpire Doug Cowie gave the English all-rounder his marching orders.

"He missed one by a long way. It angled in and seamed away, like a fast leg spinner. It was an absolute treat on a helpful wicket, and he hit his pad," Adams told the Herald last year.

"I could see that, so I didn't appeal, but the guys behind the stumps were adamant. Doug, who until that point had had a blinding game, put his finger up. Everyone was giving it to me in the huddle saying 'why didn't you appeal?' Thankfully Freddie was halfway off when the replay came on. The guys couldn't believe it."

England batsman Andrew Flintoff can''t believe his bad luck as he is given out to the bowling of Andre Adams, during day four of the third test match between New Zealand and England. Photo / Getty
England batsman Andrew Flintoff can''t believe his bad luck as he is given out to the bowling of Andre Adams, during day four of the third test match between New Zealand and England. Photo / Getty

Nor could an enraged Barmy Army supporter at the end of the over when Adams strolled "about 32m" to fine leg on the old ground dimensions.

"The shape of the boundaries made you feel like you were standing in the crowd. This guy wobbled over blind drunk and cursed me for cheating.

"I looked at him and said 'mate, I didn't appeal' just as another replay came up. He looked at it, then looked at me, and said 'as you were' and stumbled off.

"Then Flem [captain Stephen Fleming] moved me, thank god."

3. Brian Aldridge, Australia v South Africa, World Cup (Sydney 1992)

World Cup debutants South Africa are up against mighty Australia after more than two decades in international exile.

Allan Donald finds Geoff Marsh's outside edge with the first delivery ('keeper David Richardson takes the catch in front of first slip) but Kiwi umpire Brian Aldridge remains unmoved.

South Africa go on to shock the defending champions by nine wickets at the SCG - but the Aldridge blunder starts the Proteas' tempestuous relationship with World Cups.

2. Nigel Llong, Australia v New Zealand, 3rd test (Adelaide 2015)

English umpire Llong lived up to his name, taking forever to make the wrong decisions in ruling Nathan Lyon not out despite hot spot evidence to the contrary.

Lyon was even walking off but had second thoughts while TV umpire Llong was doing his thinking, thinking, thinking.

Nigel Llong. Photo / Getty
Nigel Llong. Photo / Getty

Llong told the men in the middle: "There's a mark on a bat, but it could come from anywhere."

Reaction was swift.

"Horrible five minutes of cricket and a terrible decision by third umpire Nigel Llong," spin legend Shane Warne tweeted.

"Clearly Lyon was out."

1. Dick French, Australia v New Zealand, 3rd test (Melbourne 1987)

New Zealand return to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for this year's Boxing Day test. They haven't played in whites on the big ground since December 30, 1987 - when another moment of umpiring controversy overshadowed a thrilling contest.

Danny Morrison delivered a devilish inswinger to Craig McDermott on the penultimate ball of the penultimate over. It clipped McDermott's front pad, then hit his back leg before ballooning short of the slip cordon.

The appeal for leg before was beseeching. A wicket would have won New Zealand the match and levelled a three-match series laced with controversy.

Umpire Dick French crouched low, seemingly poised to lower the hangman's noose on McDermott, before standing bolt upright and shaking his head.

Umpire French said no.