As the West Indies took on the defending World Cup Champions Australia at Trent Bridge on Thursday, cricket fans closely watching the game witnessed another battle being fought on the field. It was Chris Gayle vs the Decision Review System (DRS).
Chasing Australia's 289, opener Chris Gayle looked every bit animated during his stay at the crease while facing Aussie attack, especially against the pacer Mitchell Stark.
The mighty West Indian hitter was given out twice by the on-field umpire but Gayle kept successfully overturning the decisions against him by using DRS appeals, before finally succumbing when his third DRS appeal was unsuccessful.
His dismissal came in the 5th over at the hands of Stark, who kept troubling the batsman, when the Aussie struck him on the pads. After much deliberation, Gayle went upstairs and DRS came into play, yet again.
This time, however, Gayle was genuinely out as the review showed the ball was clipping leg stump. Or was he?
The West Indian made a long walk back to the pavilion after his innings of 21 (17) and it was only after a couple of overs that commentators and fans realised something was not right.
The ball before the one that got him out was a massive no ball that the on-field umpire failed to catch. Meaning that the ball he was adjudged LBW on would have been a free-hit.
West Indies successfully overturned three umpiring decisions by Gaffaney and Sri Lanka's Ruchira Palliyaguruge and that the fourth could have been avoided left the fans and critics of the sport disappointed. The umpiring howlers at the biggest stage of the game had legendary West Indian bowler Michael Holding livid.
Holding, who was commentating, said, "The umpiring in this game has been atrocious." Watching the captain Jason Holder successfully survive another umpiring miss via DRS, the 65-year-old added, "You don't appeal two, three, four times to the umpire. They are being intimidated which means they are weak.
While Carlos Brathwaite was simply "frustrated" by umpiring. "I don't know if I'll be fined for saying it but I just think that the umpiring was a bit frustrating," Brathwaite told reporters.
Gayle's other teammate Kieron Pollard was among the many who called out the poor umpiring on social media. "Time and time again we tend to be on the wrong end of decisions... and the masses are not vociferous bcuz y....... Piss piss poor decision making in this game and it continues ... it is blatantly alarming (sic)," the cricketer wrote on his Instagram page.
The cricket community was fuming.
@ICC should seriously look at taking the front foot no-ball away from the on-field umpire n giving it to the 3rd umpire. Have a feeling it will make a huge difference IMHO #AUSvWI— Deep Dasgupta (@DeepDasgupta7) June 6, 2019
No batsman has been given out three times in an innings as Gayle was.And now we learn a missed no ball prior to his actual dismissal means he shouldn’t have been out anyway because it should have been a free hit.— Peter Lalor (@plalor) June 6, 2019
Windies have had a number of opportunities to really turn the screws. Of course, it doesn't help that Gayle shouldn't have been out but they've been their own worst enemy at times. #CWC19 #AUSvWI— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) June 6, 2019
As for the fans, they couldn't comprehend the fact that such a massive no-ball went unchecked during a World Cup contest.
A no ball was not given & Gayle got out on the next ball, which should have been a free hit. West Indies lost an extra run, an extra ball and the wicket of Gayle, a simple carelessness of umpire can cost them the match. That's really poor cricket.#AUSvWI#WIvAUS pic.twitter.com/nY7RLY2EsO— Fasih Uddin (@Fasih_Uddin) June 6, 2019
Wtf is going on at @cricketworldcup The ball before Gayle was given out was a Noball! not only that Umpire's call gave him out! Chris Dafaney missed that. The ball he got out was supposed to be a free hit. Psycho compulsive umpire and Umpire's call have no freaking credibility pic.twitter.com/6nwglGKlUW— Awais Alvi (@DrAwaisALVI) June 6, 2019
Gaffaney missed out on a MASSIVE no-ball and the next ball, Gayle got out. On what should have been a free-hit. Oh dear.— Saurabh Malhotra (@MalhotraSaurabh) June 6, 2019
Crowd letting the umpires have it.4 successful reviews for the Windies so far. The ball that got Gayle should have been a Free hit. The ball b4 was not called a no-ball which it was.#CWC19 #AUSvWI pic.twitter.com/WZy6tYVG96— Giovanni R. Dennis (@GiovanniRDennis) June 6, 2019
Earlier, West Indies had won the toss and put Australia to bat. After an initial collapse, Australia recovered due to a resilient partnership between Steve Smith and Nathan Coulter-Nile to reach a fighting total of 288. West Indies went onto lose the match by only 15 runs.
Did umpiring blunders and Gayle's dismissal cause West Indies the match? Many wondered.