Here’s Why 1st Ashes Test Witnessed Worst Ever Umpiring in a Test Match

by Syed Zarar and Sajawal Rehman

The Australia-England rivalry is one of the most fierce sporting clashes in the world. The first Ashes Test was truly a spectacle, but it was marred with umpiring blunders.

More than 15 wrong decisions were made by the on-field umpires Joel Wilson and Aleem Dar. Umpiring has been a heated debate over the past few days with former cricketers weighing in with their views.

Former Australia captain, Ricky Ponting has suggested that with all the technology on offer, neutral umpires are not a necessity and he will raise the issue at the next MCC world cricket committee.

I would like to think the game has come far enough now for the game to not have neutral umpires. People might say that with all the technology we’ve got now, it doesn’t matter that much. But it’s not a good spectacle when pretty obviously wrong decisions are made. There’s been a lot of negativity about the DRS over the years, but we’re pretty lucky that we had it last night.

On the other hand, England captain, Joe Root has urged the former cricketers to not overcriticize, saying that ‘umpiring will never be perfect’.

Players make bad decisions from time to time – and as a result either lose their wicket or get smacked out of the attack. Umpires are going to make mistakes. It would be easy to over-criticize and point the finger. We have to respect and understand that they are under as much pressure at the players.

Here are the details of all the wrong umpiring calls during the first Ashes Test which also marked the start of the Test Championship.

Abysmal Officiating

According to the reports, Joel Wilson had a horrific run, getting 10 of his decisions wrong which was either reviewed on Decision Review System or wrongly called but not reviewed by the batsman or the bowler, whereas Aleem Dar got 5 decisions wrong.

Image via DailyMail

Here are the details of all the wrong decisions made during the 1st Test of Ashes series:

1st Innings
Umpire Batsman Bowler Over Decision DRS Overturned
Aleem Dar David Warner Stuart Broad 1.1  Not-Out
Aleem Dar David Warner Stuart Broad 3.5 Out
Joel Wilson Usman Khawaja Chris Woakes 14.2 Not-Out
Aleem Dar Steve Smith Stuart Broad 33.5 Out
Joel Wilson Mathew Wade Chris Woakes 34.6 Not-Out
Aleem Dar James Pattinson Stuart Broad 39.6 Out
Joel Wilson Peter Siddle Chris Woakes 46.1 Out
Joel Wilson Rory Burns Nathan Lyon 14.2 Not-Out
Joel Wilson Joe Root James Pattinson 20.6 Out
Aleem Dar Joe Root Peter Siddle 33.2 Out
2nd Innings
Umpire Batsman Bowler Over Decision DRS Overturned
Joel Wilson David Warner Stuart Broad 2.6 Not-Out
Joel Wilson Mathew Wade Stuart Broad 84.2 Out
Joel Wilson Pat Cummins Stuart Broad 104.3 Not-Out
Joel Wilson Joe Root James Pattinson 12.6 Out
Joel Wilson Joe Root Peter Siddle 16.4 Out

According to available statistics, umpires have often found it difficult to keep their cool under pressure.

Since 2017, here are the percentage of decisions that have been overturned by DRS against ICC’s Elite Umpire Panel:

Umpire Matches Officiated Percentage of Decisions Overturned
Simon Fry 114 43%
Joel Wilson 102* 40%
Chris Gaffaney 105 35%
Sundaram Ravi 114 34%
Paul Reiffel 115 31%
Aleem Dar 369* 29%
Richard Kettleborough 153 29%
Nigel Llong 208 28%
Bruce Oxenford 163 27%
Marais Erasmus 161 27%
Rod Tucker 178 25%
Kumar Dharmasena 169 22%
Michael Gough 82 0%

*Note that Joel Wilson and Aleem Dar’s stats from the 1st Ashes Test match are not included in this list.

What are your thoughts on the standards of umpiring during the first Ashes Test? Let us know in the comments section.

  • In your last table, it isn’t Matches officiated, it is # of decisions referred. Aleem Dar has NOT officiated in 369, get your facts right before copy/pasting!

  • What is the answer to the “why”? That they were under pressure? Where’s the evidence for this pressure?

    Kya yaar ProPak?

  • what actually is happening in tests or in limited over games is not at all just human errors rather happening on the instructions of icc itself to introduce technology into the game… had to create right atmosphere and platform to avoid any controversies. They had to dictate umpires to make wrong and foolish decisions to implement the decision without any opposition!

  • Don’t agree with Pontig. It was a less of a controversy as there were neutral umpires. Had there been English umpires standing and this much decisions were overruled by DRS, it would have been a different ball game.

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