Domain Tests v India
I don’t think umpires are looking: Ponting
Test legend wants to see no-balls closely monitored at the highest level
Martin Smith at the Adelaide Oval
9 December 2018, 07:42 PM AEST
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes on-field umpires around the world no longer look at the front line to check for no-balls, a trend he believes is "not right" and detrimental to the fielding side.
Ponting said some "blatantly obvious" instances of India's Ishant Sharma over-stepping on day four of the first Test, none of which were called a no-ball on the field, indicated to him that the umpires were leaving no-ball decisions up to the third official in the case of a wicket falling.
The issue came into focus on Sunday after Ishant dismissed Aaron Finch early in Australia's innings; Umpire Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger but Finch earned a reprieve from the third official when replays showed Ishant had overstepped.
Television broadcasters subsequently showed that the right-armer continued to overstep during his spell, but a no-ball was not signalled on the field at any stage.
"I've said this for a lot of years; I honestly don't think the umpires look at the front line anymore," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"Some of the ones we've seen today … he was 4-6 inches over the line.
"I don't think the umpires are looking and I certainly don't think they were looking at those ones because they were blatantly obvious ones.
"And as we know now, they'll only ever look at them if a wicket falls, which as far as I'm concerned is not right.
"Part of umpiring is to get the no-ball decisions right as well. I'm not asking for everything to be spot on, but if you're six inches over then surely you can call it."
Ponting said India had every right to expect to be told when Ishant had over-stepped so the quick could adjust his run-up and delivery stride and avoid the issue costing him a wicket.
"If I was the fielding team, I'd want to know," he said.
"If I was Virat Kohli and I knew that my bowler was bowling a no-ball more often than not, I'd want to know that so I could pull that back in line."
Just two weeks ago, Sri Lanka's Lakshan Sandakan was shown to have over-stepped 40 per cent of the time during a spell in the third Test against England – none of which were called no-balls on the field – and he twice dismissed Ben Stokes from deliveries that the third umpire later ruled to be no-balls.
In 2016, the International Cricket Council trialled a method whereby the third umpire watched the bowler's front foot on every delivery and relayed a message to the on-field official to signal a no-ball.
The trial followed high-profile instances of batsmen being reprieved by an on-field no-ball call that was later shown to be incorrect; Australian Adam Voges was notably saved by an incorrect no-ball call in a Test against New Zealand when he was on just 7 and went on to score a match-winning 239.
The 2016 trial was considered a success, but Geoff Allardice, the ICC's General Manager of Cricket, told Wisden Cricket Radio in October that the system was not deemed cost-effective enough to roll out in international games around the world.
Ponting said he's hopeful that the Ishant instance on Sunday would help put a spotlight on the issue again.
"I'm not sure of the exact reasons why that's not in place (permanently)," Ponting said of the ICC trial.
"We can see it in the commentary box in a manner of seconds so surely the third umpire can see the same images that we can see.
"I'm interested to know, now that it's been highlighted, just what happens from here."
Ponting, meanwhile, said there's no doubt in his mind that paceman Mitchell Starc remains in Australia's best side despite being below his best in India's second innings in Adelaide.
Starc registered figures of 3-40 but was criticised by the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Glenn McGrath and Allan Border after an at-times wayward performance.
Ponting agreed the left-armer was off his game on Sunday, but dismissed any suggestion his spot in the side was under threat.
"He looked a long way off today compared to the first innings, I thought," Ponting said. "I thought he started the game pretty well.
"At his absolute best he's as good as anyone in the world. That's the thing; he's just got to find a way to get back to his absolute best. He's like a lot of players in this current team; they're under a bit of pressure, probably more pressure than they've ever been in their careers and they've got to find a way through it.
"It'll be interesting to see how he's progressing heading into the Perth Test."
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 6-10: First Test, Adelaide Oval
Dec 14-18: Second Test, Perth Stadium
Dec 26-30: Third Test, MCG
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar