In what is being labelled one of the worst umpiring decisions in Big Bash history, a controversial incident on Tuesday night has reignited calls for a decision review system (DRS) to be brought in for the Australian domestic Twenty20 tournament.
Sydney Thunder batsman Usman Khawaja somehow survived what most viewers, commentators and players thought was an obvious nick during his side's seven-wicket win over the Perth Scorchers.
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Replays showed Khawaja had clearly edged the ball while trying to drive Scorchers bowler Andrew Tye, with the batsman standing his ground as he waited for the umpire's verdict.
What happened next left just about everyone watching completely gobsmacked.
Umpire Simon Lightbody could be heard telling Tye he believed Khawaja's bat had hit the ground, despite the bat being nowhere near the turf.
Khawaja was on 18 at the time, and made just three more before falling to Aaron Hardie.
Some viewers pointed the finger at the batsman, insisting he should have walked when he knew he nicked the ball, although Khawaja had every right to stand his ground.
Nevertheless, the incident sparked widespread outrage on social media, with many fans calling for the umpire to be stood down over one of the most extraordinary howlers seen in a long time.
Dear Usman Khawaja, this is unacceptable ☹️ pic.twitter.com/Ig6AvH7D5J
— cricket videos (@middlestump5) December 22, 2020
The worst decision I’ve probably ever seen in cricket. Andrew Tye just got Usman Khawaja caught behind and the umpire gave it not out cause he said the noise was the bat hitting the ground. It’s a foot off the track ffs. Disgrace #MadeTough #BBL10 pic.twitter.com/dcOxPENF8F
— Jonny (@jonnyescott) December 22, 2020
I have just witnessed the single worst umpiring decision in T20 history! Khawaja not out because he hit the ground. Back to 2nd grade for you numpty
— Iian Woods (@iianwoods) December 22, 2020
— Jason (@JBass049) December 22, 2020
That umpire should never umpire again, that was an absolute disgrace
— Steve Hyde (@hydeys70) December 22, 2020
@Footyman08 @BBL @7Sport Totally agree, that non decision tonight against Tye when Khawaja clearly whacked the ball, was beyond embarrassing. Then, the umpire said the bat hit the ground 😳. Use the DRS FFS https://t.co/QgQM3ZHGbt
— Wes Grant (@WesMicGrant) December 22, 2020
— CricBlog ✍ (@cric_blog) December 22, 2020
Controversy reignites calls for DRS
The incident reignited calls for the DRS, with Khawaja on the wrong end of another poor call nine days ago in the Thunder's loss to Melbourne Stars.
Mitch Marsh - himself the victim of an lbw howler in the Scorchers' washed-out clash with the Melbourne Stars last week - became the latest star to call for change.
"As a player you like to see stuff introduced, I would be all for it," Marsh, who expects to be back bowling for the Scorchers on Monday against Adelaide, said.
"It's probably above my pay grade to really be commenting on that. But I'd certainly be all for it if it was introduced."
Money is believed to be the biggest hurdle for Cricket Australia, as AAP understands it would cost around $2 million to have DRS in place at all games.
While broadcasters do show ball-tracking technology, there are suggestions that would need to be improved while snicko and hot spot are also currently absent.
However the likes of former Australia captain Adam Gilchrist and Thunder skipper Callum Ferguson have argued a system where only replays were used would still be better than the current situation, without increasing costs.
The BBL's maiden season in 2011-12 allowed third umpires to overrule incorrect decisions off replays, without using added technology.
Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell tweeted on Tuesday night seemingly backing a return to that style of system if need be.
"We get that umpiring isn't easy!!" he posted.
We get that umpiring isn’t easy!! But surely with a stump mic, a bunch of different camera angles, and a basic understanding of cricket, the right decision could’ve been made without any of the fancy DRS bells and whistles? It was introduced to eliminate the howler... 👇🤷🏻♂️ https://t.co/vILutllXhv
— Glenn Maxwell (@Gmaxi_32) December 22, 2020
"But surely with a stump mic, a bunch of different camera angles, and a basic understanding of cricket, the right decision could've been made without any of the fancy DRS bells and whistles?
"It was introduced to eliminate the howler."
But Marsh believes it has to be a case of 'all or nothing'.
"If you had just on-TV replays you would get rid of the absolute howlers but leave yourself open if there was really close calls," Marsh said.
"It's probably a case of (needing) to go all in, or not (at all)."
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