Twitter is full of praise for Indian umpire Nitin Menon for showing nerves of steel and taking a decision that was going to upset the local fans at The Oval in London during the fifth and last Ashes Test between England and Australia. After a run-out appeal by England players during the first Test to dismiss Steve Smith, the first run of the replay suggested that the Aussie batter could be short of the crease. It looked like an easy decision, at first, which led to premature celebrations among the England players on the field. The crowd to roared, thinking the third umpire would declare it as ‘OUT’. Smith had started to walk back too. To the naked, it looked like out on big screen as well as on TV.
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But for Nitin Menon, it was not as easy as others thought. He is a professional at work and he could not just press button to send Smith back. Menon asked the TV director to show him the run-out in slow-motion. Unsatisfied by the visuals which still did not determine whether Smith was out ot not, Menon asked for frame-by-frame video of the moment Smith enters the crease. Menon wanted to be sure about the bails getting dislodged before the Smith entered to rule it out.
Smith had tucked the Chris Woakes delivery ball to the leg side and attempted a two. Substitute fielder George Ealham threw the ball from deep mid-wicket, keeper Jonny Bairstow collected and dislodged the bails while Smith struggled to reach the batting end, in time. The bails were cleanly dislodged. The only question was whether Smith had entered the crease in time or not.
England players’ early celebration and Smith walking combined with huge cheer in the stands must have put a lot of pressure on Menon but he stuck to his skills and knowledge. Menon remained calm and kept asking the TV director for different angles and motion to watch the run out. The frame-by-frame motion helped Menon observe that just before the bails were taken off by Bairstow, a part of Smith’s bat had crossed the line. It also appeared that Bairstow did not take the bails off cleanly in first attempt and took it off only the second time. By then, a lucky Smith was already in.
There were boos at the stadium after Menon flashed ‘Not Out’ on the big screen. But the Indian umpire would not mind as he took the best decision possible after investigating the run-out appeal.
Take a look at reactions of fans on Menon’s brilliant piece of umpiring:
Have to applaud Nitin Menon for making the right decision __
— Ashwin __ (@ashwinravi99) July 28, 2023
Please must read law 29.1, The wicket is broken when at least one bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps.
— Abdul Basit (@BasitCric) July 28, 2023
When Ian Ward explained with those angles, Mark Taylor agreed with him as well. Ward reckoned no-one has 50 minutes to arrive at an umpiring decision.
Nitin Menon made the decision, based on the available evidence. From that point of view, he was right.
— Vijay A (@VAAChandran) July 28, 2023
India spinner R Ashwin also hailed the decision by Menon, praising him on Twitter. A controversy may emerge out of this decision but there is no doubt that Menon was right here. A third umpire can only check all angles, possibilities to take a decision and Menon, unafraid of the reaction of the England players and fans, did just that.
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