The White Ferns may have fallen to a one-sided mauling against the Australians in their T20 World Cup opener on Sunday, but their cause wasn’t helped by a bizarrely poor decision by third umpire Jacqueline Williams.
With the New Zealanders battling early to stay in the contest in pursuit of Australia’s mammoth total of 174/9, Bernadine Bezuidenhout miscued a shot to mid-off.
Aussie fielder Darcie Brown raced with a diving attempt to take the catch, coming up with the ball but waving off any celebrations, clearly indicating she’d thought the ball had bounced first.
But unsatisfied with the fielder’s own ruling – which would normally be sufficient to dismiss any need for further scrutiny – the on-field umpires decided to refer the incident to the third umpire for another look.
Both sides waited for what seemed would be the straightforward – albeit unnecessary – review to return a green light for not out, with replays clearly showing the ball bounced off the turf before being collected by Brown.
But third umpire Williams disagreed, bafflingly ruling there was enough evidence to overturn the onfield decision and send Bezuidenhout packing, much to the bemusement of both teams.
With the White Ferns staring at a run rate of almost 11 when the incident occurred, the decision may not have had any bearing on the overall outcome of the match, although Bezuidenhout was beginning to find her rhythm in her first match after a three-year absence with health issues.
However, it left many fans scratching their heads in confusion, prompting an outcry on social media.
“Worst DRS call I’ve ever seen. Can’t believe Australia are claiming this, clear bounce and fielder knew it,” said one user.
“I can’t think of a more shocking third umpire decision in recent memory in either the women’s or men’s game,” said another.
“Another thing about the poor DRS decision is it reduces trust in the system and the umpires. It was designed to remove the howlers but on this occasion it has added one.”
The White Ferns went on to be dismissed for 76 in the 14th over – their lowest-ever score in T20 cricket – collapsing to a 97-run defeat.