Cricket Australia has responded to a week of drama in the WBBL by insisting third-umpire technology will be introduced in all matches in the women's domestic T20 tournament next season. As things currently stand, only the televised WBBL games have the use of DRS technology and third umpires, leading to a massive discrepancy in the standard of officiating between the two.
Those inconsistencies have been highlighted by a number of embarrassing incidents in recent days that have left cricket fans scratching their heads. Monday night's WBBL match between Hobart Hurricanes and Sydney Thunder was the latest to feature an embarrassing officiating blunder when Hurricanes opener Lizelle Lee should have been given out stumped for 12, before going on to make 91 runs.
'DEPLORABLE': Steve Smith under fire amid Ricky Ponting swipe
'NOT RIGHT': Controversy erupts over rarely-seen Aussie dismissal
Replays showed Lee was well short of her crease when wicketkeeper Tahlia Wilson whipped off the bails, only to be given a massive reprieve that left fans and commentators in disbelief. Fox Cricket’s Ben Homer said: “Well she was definitely out. Way out. She’s going to survive.”
The head-scratching incident followed another controversial moment that unfolded on Sunday night when Brisbane Heat's Mignon du Preez was run out in bizarre fashion. The ball flicked off du Preez's bat at the non-striker's end, causing the bails to fall off and prompting Strikers bowler Amanda-Jade Wellington to remove the stump with her hand.
Du Preez was given out despite Wellington not holding the ball in the same hand that she removed the stump with - something video technology could have easily picked up. It followed another incident last week where the Melbourne Stars' Rhys McKenna was adjudged to be run out, despite clearly making her crease.
While many fans concede that implementing DRS technology for all the games is a costly exercise, most agree that at the very least all games should have a third umpire analysing video footage to prevent such howlers. As the matches in question were all streamed games, there was no third umpire.
Surely there has to be a third umpire as a minimum at all WBBL matches.
I understand the DRS restrictions, but something has to change. #WBBL09
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) October 30, 2023
This is why there needs to be a third umpire for ANY WBBL game on Fox or 7. Actually ridiculous how many dismissals have and haven’t been given out. #WBBL09
— Sarah Jane Coyte (@sarahjanecoyte) October 30, 2023
— Weber Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) October 29, 2023
All WBBL matches to have third umpires next season
Cricket Australia have indicated they will look to introduce video technology in all WBBL games next season, expanding it from 24 free-to-air games last year to include an extra 10 matches. Talks are already in place to have fixed run-out cameras positioned for all other games, ensuring a third-umpire can be called upon in every WBBL match.
"We're always focused on continuous improvement around the competition, whether that's scheduling, players, technology or officiating," Big Bash boss Alistair Dobson told AAP. "Next year is the first year of our new media rights agreement, which will bring with it some further growth in the technology and facilities available at WBBL games.
"We're really optimistic we'll be able to continue to improve and enhance WBBL matches around the use of technology and decision making." Monday night's controversial not out call for Lee proved particularly crucial as she smacked 12 fours and two sixes to top score for the Hurricanes and guide them to a 24-run win over the Thunder.
Cricket Australia slammed over WBBL 'failure'
The cricket world has obviously welcomed the changes for next season. However, others have slammed CA for not implementing it sooner, describing it as a failure for the women's game.
Not good enough @CricketAus should be happening now not next season
— Michael Robinson (@ozrobbo) October 30, 2023
#WBBL treated like second-class citizens as per usual.
— Gregory Walters (@CatmanForever) October 30, 2023
Should have already be here. Why wait for some uproar from fans and match getting effected by it. Serious failure this.
— Hassan 🇵🇸 (@CricketFanati17) October 30, 2023
Monday night's controversial not out call for Lee proved particularly crucial as she smacked 12 fours and two sixes to top score for the Hurricanes and guide them to a 24-run win over the Thunder. The Thunder got off to a sluggish start in reply to Hobart's 3/174, before in-form youngster Phoebe Litchfield gave them a sniff of victory with a career-best 42-ball 68.
With Litchfield at the crease Sydney needed 39 runs heading into the second last over, which was bowled one ball short after Heather Graham sent down two wides. Litchfield eventually fell in the final over as the Thunder finished just short on 6-150.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.