Umpire Craig concedes BBL error

Umpire says he ‘got it wrong’ when he gave Perth Scorchers’ Sam Whiteman the benefit of the doubt in semi-final

It’s often forgotten that umpires, like the players they officiate, are humans and make human errors.

What separates the good players and umpires from the bad are those who can own up to their mistakes, acknowledge where they went wrong and become better for it.

Just like no batsman means to miss a ball or no fielder deliberately drops a catch, no umpire means to make the wrong call when standing out in the middle.

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On Tuesday night at The Furnace in the first KFC Big Bash League semi-final, umpire Shawn Craig declined an appeal for a caught-behind that left the Melbourne Stars aghast with disbelief.

The batsman was Perth Scorchers wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman, who later admitted he did indeed edge the ball and should have been given out.

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But Craig, in the centre of a WACA that was humming with noise and excitement, ruled not out before later admitting he was incorrect. 

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“It was a really muffled noise and so I didn’t think it was bat,” Craig said on Optus Sport’s Umpires' Verdict.

“I got it wrong.

“He (Whiteman) has hit it, there’s no doubt I got it wrong and it’s one of those ones I wish I could take back.”

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Craig stood firm as the Stars, led by veterans David Hussey and Kevin Pietersen, pleaded with him to give it out before being left disappointed and frustrated by the decision.

“That’s part of the game,” Craig said.

“There are many occasions where they will ... appeal confidently and it is not out and you make the right decision. 

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“Especially in the Big Bash when it is noisy and there are times when you can’t hear the nicks or something that might occur, off the pad or bat, you’ve got to rely on your partner to give you a hand.

“You’ve just got to trust your judgment and hope you get it right more often than not.”

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Whiteman was on 13 when he was given the reprieve but failed to fully capitalise on his good fortune, making a further 18 to finish with 31 runs from 26 balls in the Scorchers’ seven-wicket win.

Making matters more confusing, Whiteman appeared to begin to make his way off after playing his shot before he paused and waited for the umpire’s decision.

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When no signal came, Whiteman resumed his innings, deciding not to follow in the footsteps of a fellow Western Australia ‘keeper Adam Gilchrist by walking.

Walking – when a batsman leaves the field without waiting for the umpire’s verdict – has long split opinions in cricket, but when it comes to umpiring, the officials warn against taking in a batsman’s body language when making decisions.

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“You can read batsmen but I think that’s not a good business when you’re trying to make up your mind on decisions,” said umpire Sam Nogajski, who was standing at square leg when Whiteman floated around the crease after edging behind.

“You yourself know if you hear it you give it out, if you don’t hear it don’t give it out.

“You stick to your guns. Don’t try and read players, you’ll get yourself into trouble.”