Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena, who signalled six runs off the fourth ball in England’s last over of their World Cup final run chase, has finally spoken out about the incident which may have cost New Zealand the world title.
Dharmasena, speaking to Sri Lankan newspaper, the Sunday Times, accepted the mistake but refused to the regret the decision.
“It’s easy for people to comment after seeing TV replays,” Dharmasena told the Sunday Times.
“I agree that there was a judgmental error when I see it on TV replays now. But we did not have the luxury of TV replays at the ground and I will never regret the decision I made. Beside the ICC praised me for the decision I made at that time,” he added.
Earlier, former umpire Simon Taufel had confirmed to foxsports.com.au that the on-field umpires made a “clear mistake” in awarding six runs to England for the overthrow when it should have been only five.
According to ICC's laws, Law 19.8 pertaining to ‘Overthrow or wilful act of fielder’ states that, “If the boundary results from an overthrow or from the wilful act of a fielder, the runs scored shall be any runs for penalties awarded to either side, and the allowance for the boundary, and the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act.”
The last part is what kicked up the row. The footage of the incident clearly shows that when Guptill released the ball, Stokes and Rashid had not crossed over for the second run. Even when the ball hit Stokes's bat, Rashid was far away from the crease.
Which means they had effectively completed only one run and so, they should have been awarded five and not six runs.
Also, as Taufel pointed out, then Rashid, and not Stokes, would have been on strike with three runs needed to win off two balls for England.
Dharmasena, who was standing as head umpire, consulted with Marais Erasmus, the leg umpire, and the rest of the umpires and match referee. He decided to award six runs–two scored by Stokes and four for the overthrows. Chasing 242 for victory, England needed nine from the final three balls. This changed to three off two balls with the six runs awarded.
Dharmasena said that there was no provision in the law to refer this to the third umpire as maintained by some.
“There is no provision in the law to refer this to the third umpire as no dismissal was involved,” he told the Sunday Times.
The winner of five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards, Taufel, also defended the on-field umpires. “In the heat of what was going on, they (umpires) thought there was a good chance the batsmen had crossed at the instant of the throw,” he said.
“Obviously, TV replays showed otherwise. The difficulty you have here is you (umpires) have to watch batsmen completing runs, then change focus and then watch for the release [of the throw]. You also have to watch where the batsmen are at that exact moment.”
Though Taufel admitted the umpires' call “influenced the game”, he said it would be unfair on both the teams and the umpires to say it decided the outcome of the match.