Secret videos reveal umpires’ no-ball disgrace
Cricket's credibility is on trial in the second Test following secret videos revealing Australia were no-balled towards defeat in Adelaide.
The Daily Telegraph has viewed incredible footage captured by broadcasters during a dramatic first Test decided by just 31 runs, and a review of the tapes shows India spearhead Ishant Sharma bowling at least 16 uncalled front-foot no balls in just the first innings of the match.
Sharma was called only once for overstepping the entire Test and that appeared to be almost by accident when Aaron Finch went to DRS for an lbw shout that otherwise would have been out.
Commentators reported watching multiple Sharma overs during the Test, where they examined the on-crease cameras used to determine run-outs, and were stunned that on at least two occasions the Indian star bowled four out of six no-balls an over and in at least one instance - every single delivery of an over.
No exhaustive study has yet been done of Sharma's second innings bowling but it's possible the quick might have got away with the 30 plus runs that ultimately proved the difference in the match.
In any event it was a stack of unpunished deliveries and at least three overs which the big quick didn't have to re-bowl in the arduous Adelaide heat.
Australia can in no way blame uncalled no balls from the umpires for their loss in Adelaide when the top order failed so badly in both innings. But confirmation that officials no longer check the bowlers' front foot has been labelled an embarrassment for the international game.
Broadcasters are forced to foot the International Cricket Council's $30,000 daily bill for DRS technology and there is growing bemusement that the third umpire doesn't even bother to check available footage to adjudicate on no balls.
Regulations stipulate that cameras must be situated on the line of the crease on both sides of the field and both ends of the wicket - yet third umpires refuse to use the instant footage available except when a wicket falls.
In what shapes as an arm-wrestle of a series, umpires will be under huge pressure to rectify the balls-up in Perth.
Test great Ricky Ponting said on Channel 7 that turning a blind eye to blatant no-balls had become an international farce.
"There is three or four from him (this over) … he is clearly over the frontline and it hasn't been called. It's not acceptable in the game to have this many missed," said Ponting.
"I've said this for a number of years, I honestly don't think the umpires look at the front line any more.
"… they were blatantly obvious ones. As we all know they'll only ever look at them if a wicket falls, which as far as I'm concerned is not right."
No-balls escaping the umpire's attention was also a massive talking point in the recent England-Sri Lanka Test series where Sri Lankan spinner Lakshan Sandakan dismissed Ben Stokes on two occasions only to have the decisions reversed when the third umpire checked the front foot.
The blunders prompted host broadcaster Sky to review footage of his entire bowling innings and the results were unbelievable - with 40 per cent of his deliveries in the opening session on day three clearly front-foot no-balls that went unpunished.
England star Jos Buttler demanded that it should be part of the third umpire's job in the box to be reviewing the front foot every delivery on the footage made available by broadcasters.
"He could watch TV and then communicate to the on-field umpire," said Buttler.
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