World Cup Referee Crowe Admits Error
World Cup match referee Jeff Crowe admitted on Saturday that Sri Lanka had been mistakenly asked to come back on the field for a final three overs in the rain-reduced World Cup final against Australia.
Australia were celebrating their third consecutive World Cup victory after the Sri Lanka batsman had gone off for bad light when the teams were told they would have to complete the final three overs or come back on Sunday to finish the match.
The game, in fact, was already completed under international cricket rules because Sri Lanka had batted the minimum 20 of their reduced allotted 36 overs and failed to reach their target.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting and his Sri Lanka counterpart Mahela Jayawardene agreed that the Australian spinners, instead of fast bowlers, would bowl the final overs because of the bad light.
Crowe told a news conference the highly experienced umpiring team of himself, on-field referees Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar and the third and fourth umpires Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden would take collective responsibility for the error.
"It's a human error," he said. "It was a mistake," said Crowe who indicated that Koertzen had first suggested the game could continue on Sunday.
"Rudi was talking about the allowances and obviously he was talking about the possibility of tomorrow and we were all there and Steve Bucknor heard the same information and so did Aleem Dar," said Crowe.
"I don't think it was Rudi's mistake, I think it was a collective mistake. The fact that maybe Rudi might have suggested it early doesn't mean the other umpires couldn't have over-ruled him.
"The two on-the-field umpires are the ones that are actually controlling the match," said Crowe.
Jayawardene said he realised the match was over when his batsmen were offered the option of going off for bad light.
"The umpires said we had to play three overs," he told a news conference. "We were surprised, we found out later they had got it wrong," he said.
"Before I went out to the middle I did try to explain to the third umpire but they had already made up their minds," he added.
The Sri Lankan captain had said that he had taken his players off because, with the game effectively lost, he did not want them facing quick bowlers in very poor light.
"I didn't want to put my guys at risk and that was a call I made," he said.
Victorious Australia skipper Ponting said he thought Dar was kidding him when he interrupted the team's celebrations to tell him three overs would have to be played on Sunday.
"I actually thought he was having a bit of a joke with us to try and stop our celebrations or something. He said 'it looks like you'll have to come back tomorrow and play three overs'.
"I stopped and looked at him and said 'mate, we've played the 20 overs, we've finished the game'. It was a little bit disappointing way to end a World Cup," Ponting said.
By John Mehaffey
© Reuters 2007.