India laid low by Bucknor-Benson duo

The series of blunders in this Test will further strengthen the demand for the use of technology to minimise human error.

updated: January 08, 2008 18:28 IST
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A 'blind' Steve Bucknor and an equally erratic Mark Benson again did their bit to ensure that the second cricket Test between India and Australia would be remembered more for its long list of umpiring howlers than cricketing action.

If the opening day set the tone with three dubious decisions, the final day which saw India crashing to a shock 122-run defeat witnessed a number of horrendous decisions which proved costly for the visitors.

The series of blunders in this Test will further strengthen the demand for the use of technology to minimise human error.

Both the umpires knocked the life out of India's second innings resistance with two decisions and the visitors could not recover from the setbacks.

After a top order collapse, Sourav Ganguly (51) and Rahul Dravid (38) had just steadied the rocking boat when both returned to dubious dismissals.

Dravid had padded an Andrew Symonds delivery that brushed his knee-roll before landing on Adam Gilchrist's gloves and Bucknor ruled the batsman caught behind.

Next was the turn of Benson who ruled Ganguly out even though Michael Clarke took a catch that apparently came off the ground.

Benson surprisingly preferred not to consider Bucknor or the third umpire and instead asked Ricky Ponting, who gestured that Ganguly was out.

Much to Ganguly's dismay, Benson raised his finger, a decision that had former India captain Sunil Gavaskar livid.

Gavaskar lambasted Benson for not consulting Bucknor or the third umpire and going by Ponting's words.

"How can you go by the words of Clarke or Ponting? Clarke stood his ground despite being caught by Dravid and Ponting did not walk despite being caught. They did not walk, which means they have been less than honest while batting. The same guys can't be honest while fielding," he said.

Ponting had edged Ganguly in the first innings to be caught by MS Dhoni but Benson gave him a 'life', while Clarke was caught at slip by Dravid in the second innings off Anil Kumble but the batsman still lingered on the crease before eventually departing.

"Benson could have consulted his colleague in the square leg or the third umpire. Instead, he went to Ponting and went by whatever he said. This is absolutely not on. This is utter nonsense.

"Sorry Mr Benson, you got it all wrong," said an upset Gavaskar.

Yesterday too, Australia benefited from Benson's generosity after he ruled in Mike Hussey's favour even after the batsman had edged RP Singh to Dhoni.

Hussey, who was then on 45, made the most of the 'life' and went on to make an unbeaten 145 to swell Australia's lead.

Similarly, Symonds thrived on the umpires' largess in the first innings. The all-rounder was caught by Dhoni off Ishant Sharma on 30 but Bucknor turned down the appeal, allowing him to score an unbeaten 162 that bailed out the hosts, who had slumped to 134 for six at that stage.

On his way, Symonds got another 'life' by third umpire Bruce Oxenford who ruled him not out when he was stumped by Dhoni off Anil Kumble.

The series of errors infuriated the BCCI, which has decided to lodge a protest with the International Cricket Council.