Sri Lanka players refused to take the field on time on Day 3 of the second Test against Windies in St. Lucia owing to a disagreement over change of ball, which the on-field umpires called for before the start of play. They play eventually began nearly two hours after the scheduled start but not before five penalty runs were added to Windies’ total off 118/2.
Here’s a look at five previous such instances when a team responded to dubious umpiring decisions with a form of protest.
The Oval forfeiture
Pakistan vs England, Oval, 2006 (Test)
On the fourth afternoon of the final Test between England and Pakistan at the Oval, the visitors were docked five penalty runs by umpire Darrell Hair for altering condition of the ball by methods not permissible. Post the tea break, unhappy Pakistan players refused to take the field. Around 20 minutes later, umpires Hair and Billy Doctrove walked back to the field along with the England batsmen and removed the bails, thereby signalling the end of the Test match, and awarding it to England – the first and only instance of a team forfeiting a Test.
Pakistan emerged on the field later in the evening, but the umpires insisted the result must stand, which was confirmed by both the boards later that day. The result was amended to an abandonment by ICC in July 2008 which was reversed to the original verdict six months later.
The Ranatunga – Muralitharan – Emerson saga
Sri Lanka vs England, Adelaide, 1999 (ODI)
Arjuna Ranatunga was never a popular man in Australia’s cricket circles, and the incidents in the Adelaide ODI against England in January 1999 did nothing to improve it either. After umpire Ross Emerson kept no-balling Muttiah Muralitharan from square leg for chucking (Emerson was one of the three umpires who called Muralitharan for throwing four years ago), Ranatunga had a long altercation with the umpire before gesturing his players to walk off the field.
The players stopped near the boundary line which was followed by a heated discussions between the match officials, Sri Lankan team manager Ranjit Fernando and Ranatunga. Play eventually resumed 12 minutes later as Muralitharan completed the over without any further stoppages. Ranatunga then brought him on from the end where Emerson was officiating and asked the umpire to stand closer to the wickets so that it would make it difficult for him to call. Sri Lanka went on to win the humdinger, chasing 303 with two balls and a wicket to spare.
Gothsokar’s ultimatum to Zaheer Abbas
Pakistan vs India, Bangalore, 1983 (Test)
The Test match started off on a sour note as Pakistan skipper Zaheer Abbas was reluctant to play on an outfield that he considered too slippery because of overnight rains. The match meandered to the final day bedeviled by persistent showers and bad light with the respective first innings getting completed only on the last day. Under the playing conditions, a minimum of 77 overs had to be bowled, including 20 mandatory overs in the last hour of the final day. There was no real possibility of a result and the match was only of academic interest from thereon.
Sunil Gavaskar was nearing his 28th Test ton but at the end of the 14th over in the last hour, Zaheer led his players off the field without consulting the on-field officials as they thought 77 overs for the day had already been bowled. However, the umpires stressed that unless both teams mutually agreed to end the game early, all 20 overs were needed to be bowled. An ultimatum was issued to Zaheer by umpires Swaroop Kishen and Madhav Gothsokar that unless they return to the middle the Test would be awarded to India. Pakistan returned reluctantly and Gavaskar completed his century, as the Test ended in a tame draw.
Colin Croft makes his displeasure known to Fred Godall
West Indies vs New Zealand, Christchurch, 1980 (Test)
The Test series started off on a shaky note in Dunedin, thanks to some dubious umpiring by John Hastie. The image of Michael Holding kicking the stumps at striker’s end summed up the first Test. The second Test began in Christchurch nine days later and the ghosts of Dunedin resurfaced on the third day. This time the protagonists were West Indies’ Colin Croft and umpire Fred Goodall as the latter refused to give a caught behind of New Zealand skipper Geoff Howarth on 68 (he went on to make 147) off Joel Garner.
The West Indies team was raging during the tea break and they unanimously decided not to resume the Test, and even thought about leaving the country midway through the series. After Howarth’s assurance to Clive Lloyd that his batsmen would walk off if they knew they hit the ball, the visitors took the field 12 minutes after the scheduled time.
The Test witnessed the worst the next day as Colin Croft barged into Godall and even had a verbal altercation with him. Skipper Lloyd did little to diffuse the situation as he refused to budge from where he stood in slips as umpires tried to talk to him to restore sanity. It remained the only series between 1979 and 1994 where West Indies ended on the losing side.
India’s infamous walk-out
India vs Pakistan, Sahiwal, 1978 (ODI)
India took on hosts Pakistan in the third ODI in the Zafar Ali Stadium in Sahiwal, with the series locked 1-1 after the first two matches. After restricting the hosts to 205 in a 40-overs-a-side contest, India were 183 for two, needing 23 runs off the last three overs with Anshuman Gaekwad batting on 78 and Gundappa Vishwanath on eight.
Sarfraz Nawaz began the 38th over with a bouncer that flew way over the six-footed Gaekwad’s head, and to wicketkeeper Wasim Bari. But umpires Khizer Hayat and Javed Akhtar stood unmoved.
The next three balls were action replays of the first delivery. Befuddled Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi called his batsman back in protest of the shenanigans. India thereby became the first team to concede a match to the opposition due to a walk-out. The decision created a lot of furore in Pakistan as well as India. The concept of neutral umpires was still years away from becoming a reality but the incident was one of the catalysts for that decision.
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