In the midst of a fiercely contested World Cup 2023 match between South Africa and Pakistan, a different kind of battle erupted on social media. Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh and renowned cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle found themselves on opposing sides of a heated debate surrounding a contentious Decision Review System (DRS) decision, leaving cricket enthusiasts glued to their screens and devices.
The Controversial DRS Decision
The epicentre of this social media clash was a contentious LBW call involving South African bowler Tabraiz Shamsi during a crucial moment in the match. With just one wicket remaining and a slim margin between victory and defeat, Haris Rauf delivered a searing delivery that left Shamsi perplexed as it struck his pads. The on-field appeals were vigorous, but the umpire remained unfazed and uncertain, opting for a no-call decision.
With their last review in hand, Pakistan captain Babar Azam chose to challenge the umpire’s decision in a high-stakes gamble to save the game. However, the outcome of the DRS review added to Pakistan’s agony as it upheld the Umpire’s Call, rendering their review invalid. The original decision stood, granting South Africa a lifeline, which they capitalized on to secure a historic victory and break a 24-year World Cup drought against Pakistan.
Harsha Bhogle’s Explanation
In an attempt to clarify the intricacies of the “Umpire’s Call” in LBW decisions, Harsha Bhogle took to social media to shed light on the matter. He emphasized that the post-impact projection seen on screen is not the actual path of the ball but a projection of where it might have been.
“I suspect it is time to explain “Umpire’s Call” again. After the ball strikes the pad, what you see is a projection of where the ball might have been, it isn’t the actual ball because that has met an obstruction.”, Bhogle wrote in his tweet.
Bhogle highlighted the threshold of 50% of the ball’s projection hitting the stumps, which provides certainty of an out decision. However, if less than 50% of the ball is projected to hit the stumps, the accuracy levels cannot ensure with 100% certainty that the ball would have hit the stumps, leading to the retention of the umpire’s original decision. Bhogle explained the concept as a method that is both good and fair, relying on the improvement of camera technology for more definitive decisions in the future.
“If more than 50% of the ball is projected to hit the stumps, you can be 100% sure it will. But if less than 50% of the ball is projected to hit the stumps, the current accuracy levels cannot state with 100% certainty that the ball would have hit the stumps. Hence, you go back to the Umpire’s original decision because you cannot be certain enough to overturn his call. It is a very good and fair method. As cameras get better and the projected path more certain, we could reach a day when you can be certain that even if the projected path shows a ball merely clipping the stumps, it would in reality have hit them.”, he further explained in his tweet.
Harbhajan Singh’s Fiery Response
Harbhajan Singh, a former Indian spinner known for his candid opinions, could not hold back his frustration with Bhogle’s explanation. He responded to Bhogle’s tweet by stating, “Ball hitting the stump is out Harsha simple! This can happen with the Indian team tomorrow. ICC needs to either stick to tech or umpire call. There isn’t a need for tech in the game if the umpire’s call is the last call. You can’t have one suggesting out and one saying not out! Rubbish it is.”
The fiery exchange between Harbhajan Singh and Harsha Bhogle quickly garnered attention across social media platforms, with cricket fans and enthusiasts sharing their own perspectives on the matter. The debate highlighted the nuanced and complex nature of LBW decisions in modern cricket and the ongoing quest for precision in technology and officiating.