I made a mistake – Dharmasena


by Rex Clementine

World Cup winner Kumar Dharmasena was concentrating on a career in banking with Hatton National Bank after retirement from cricket when he gave it a shot at umpiring. To his utter surprise, he was pretty good at cricket’s toughest job and he decided to swap careers.  Nicknamed ‘unanduwa’ which translated roughly means ‘hard worker’ Dharmasena left no stones unturned in his pursuit to become the best umpire in the world. In 2015 at the MCG, he became the first Sri Lankan to umpire a World Cup final. Since then, he has been rated world’s finest umpire by colleagues and players and was named to officiate the 2019 final as well.  Over the last week, a decision that he made during the closing stages of the tensed Lord’s final has come in for intense criticism.

In the last over of the game, England needed 15 to win. England were running at everything as if their lives depended on those runs and umpires were kept busy. When the equation was nine runs from three balls, it was still New Zealand’s game as Ben Stokes was batting with the tail. Then came a twist in the tale. Stokes clubbed a Trent Boult delivery to mid-wicket and chanced Martin Guptill’s arm in a bid to retain the strike. The all-rounder dived to prevent being run out. The throw struck Stokes’ bat and the ball ricocheted to the fine-leg boundary.

Umpire Dharmasena signaled six runs to be added to the total. No one noticed the error at that point, but Australian umpire Simon Taufel, the following day, stressed that England should have got only five runs as Stokes had not completed the second run when the ball hit his bat on his return to the striker’s end.

"I made a judgmental call after consulting my colleague Marais Erasmus. It was like calling a no-ball or a wide and I couldn’t consult the third umpire. I was hundred percent sure that the batsmen had crossed. It looked as if he had almost reached the popping crease," a regretful Dharmasena told The Island.

"I admit that I was wrong. I also admit that the rule has to change," Dharmasena went onto say.

"If the ball hits the stumps and goes for four, then it’s fine.  But the moment the ball hits the bat or the batsmen, it’s got to be dead ball," explained Dharmasena.

A section of the British media had claimed that Ben Stokes wanted the umpires to take off the boundary. But Dharmasena says there were no such calls made. ‘Unanduwa’ was the first person to admit his mistake and that’s what makes him a remarkable umpire. He apologized to New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson the moment he realized that he had made a mistake.

He is willing to move forward. Next stop is Birmingham for him where he will be officiating the Ashes Test match in ten days time.  

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