The standard of umpiring in the Big Bash has been a talking point all season and it is sure to intensify again.
Players were left divided while Test star Usman Khawaja was fuming after a controversial umpiring call ended the Sydney Thunder’s Big Bash campaign and left more questions over the quality of the tournament’s officiating.
Khawaja was given out by the third umpire despite TV replays appearing to show the ball may have hit the ground before Adelaide Strikers spinner Fawad Ahmed took a spectacular diving catch with his fingertips at the MCG on Sunday night.
The on-field “soft signal” of out sealed Khawaja’s fate, with the TV umpire needing conclusive evidence to overturn the decision and replays leaving room for doubt, but also showing Ahmed’s fingers under the ball.
While neither team wanted to question the honesty of veteran spinner Ahmed, Khawaja made his displeasure known as his team’s season came to an end.
“No I didn’t think I was out,” Khawaja said.
“I thought at the end of the day the soft signal cost me. I’ve never been a big fan of the soft signal.
“When they give it out on the field it makes it hard to overturn.
“I said to the umpires on the field that I can’t believe a blade of grass didn’t touch the ball because that is all it needs to take.
“It looked like a blade of grass 100 per cent touched the ball. I’ll accept the umpire’s decision, but I don’t agree with it.
“As a fielder I know you don’t always know. You feel like and even I have felt like I have caught a few balls that bounced in front of me. I’m not questioning Fawad, I just thought it bounced.”
Ahmed’s Adelaide teammate Harry Conway conceded it was a “50-5o” decision but he thought it was out.
“I thought it was out initially when I saw it live and then you can look at it from however many angles you want,” Conway said.
“But Alex Carey is probably the moral compass of the group and he thought 50-50 but he actually had his batting cap on and said, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not out’.
“At the end of the day we were (looking) up at the screen and we were confident but that one goes either way and it was a big wicket – it was Usman – so huge moment in the game but luckily it went our way.”
The quality of the umpiring in the Big Bash this season has been questioned after a series of mistakes including one umpire changing his decision immediately after giving a player out in a clash between the Stars and Scorchers earlier in the season.
Khawaja’s Thunder teammate Jason Sangha, who was at the non-striker’s end at the time, wasn’t too perturbed by the final decision despite the hammer-blow it proved to be in his team’s run-chase which came up short.
“‘Fuzzy’ (Ahmed) is a very honest guy and ‘Fuzzy’ thought he caught it and the umpires went with the decision, the soft signal of out,” Sangha said.
“From then on it’s out of my control really, I think they obviously did all they can to go through the replays and all that.
“I’m probably biased like all the Thunder guys probably thought it wasn’t out and all the Strikers are going to say it was out.
“At the end of the day I think the umpires made the right call in the end.”