Bangladesh cricket team director Khaled Mahmud on Sunday demanded the ICC to bring back neutral umpires in international fixtures after several decisions went against them on the fourth day of the ongoing first Test against South Africa at Kingsmead in Durban.
South Africa set Bangladesh a target of 274 in the fourth innings and the visitors were reduced to 11 for three at the end of the day. Mahmud said that had it not been for poor umpiring, Bangladesh would have a low target to chase.
Khaled Mahmud Slams Umpires
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICC had decided to allow umpires from host nations to stand for international matches. The umpiring howlers in the first Test came under the spotlight on the fourth day as seven decisions between on-field umpires – Marais Erasmus and Adrian Holdstock – were changed via DRS (Decision Review System).
“I think umpires play a big role behind a Test match and a lot of this depends on their decisions. Since morning everyone has seen the umpiring and there is nothing to hide,” Mahmud told reporters after the game.
“There were certain decisions that went against us and if that was not the case we would have been chasing 180 instead of 270,” he added.
“Umpires are the judges and we respect them but we could have picked up a wicket by taking a review but out of fear we did not go for it,” he said, hinting at the possible dismissal of Keegan Petersen when he was pinged on the pads while batting on 14.
Both of Bangladesh’s first two wickets (Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee) on day four were results of the use of DRS. In between the two decisions, Keegan Petersen was pinned in front by Khaled Ahmed but the umpire didn’t give it out.
Bangladesh didn’t opt for a review but the TV replays showed three reds. Not only the leg-before decisions, umpire Marais Erasmus even called a five-ball over during Bangladesh’s innings.
Khaled Mahmud, team director and former Bangladesh captain, stated that the target for Bangladesh would have been 180 instead of 274 had some decisions not gone against Bangladesh.
“To be honest, I haven’t seen such inconsistent umpiring for a long time,” he said. “Now everything is open and we feel ICC should see if neutral umpires can be provided,” he concluded.
Mahmud added that even though their backs have been pushed against the wall, they will still fight their way out of trouble on the final day, taking inspiration from the historic win of Sri Lanka against South Africa on the very ground in 2019.
“I think we can take inspiration from Sri Lanka’s win and the situation is very much the same,” said Mahmud as his team was left needing 263 to win with seven wickets in hand on the final day after they were reduced to 11 for 3 on Sunday.
“I don’t think a draw is on the cards as some team will win and someone will lose, and we have every chance to win this game as we still have a couple of good batsmen left with us.
“I know it’s tough and the ball is spinning and some of them are coming low but if we can bat to our potential we can make a match out of it because it is not a fact that we can’t play spin,” he said.
Mahmud also hailed the Bangladesh bowling unit and the injured Taskin Ahmed, who has been ruled out from the second Test, for helping the side make a comeback in the game. “Taskin was having shoulder pain but he bowled with taping on and taking pain killers,” he said.
“I think the bowlers did a great job to make such a comeback as they stick to their game plan,” he added, reflecting on the collapse that was triggered in the second half of the day – bowling out South Africa for 204 in the second essay after they were well-placed at 116 for 1 at one stage.
Bangladesh will play the final and 2nd Test match on April 8 in St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. Earlier to the Test series Bangladesh won the 3 match ODI series by 1-2.