Top Fights between Umpires and Players on the Cricket Field

Published 05/31/2015, 3:53 PM EDT
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove examining the ball during the oval test.

Cricket, often referred as ‘the gentleman’s game’, conjures images of a good-natured sporting contest on the village green. But we all are past those days, and there are instances when the game doesn’t remain very gentleman-like.


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Generally umpires are the ones who are responsible for cooling things down when the match situation starts to get the better of players. A stern warning or a word with the captain, is mostly what it is required to be done by the umpires when such a situation arises. But who will control the decorum of the game when umpires are the ones involved in the conflict on the field?

Bringing you some of the top instances where the fights were not between the players, but between the umpires and the players.


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1. Michael Slater abuses Umpire Srinivasan Venkatraghavan, Mumbai 2001

During the first test of Border Gavaskar Series in Mumbai in 2001, Australian Opener Michael Slater claimed to have hold of caught Rahul Dravid’s mistimed pull shot. But Dravid was not convinced about and did not walk off. On field umpire S. Venkatraghavan gave batsman the benefit of the doubt and declared Dravid not out. This did’t go down well with Slater and he abused both the batsman and the umpire. He was later fined for his act.

Michael Slater going up to Rahul Dravid and having a word.
Courtesy- ScoopWhoop

2. Michael Clarke asks Aleem Dar to not touch him, Oval, 2013

I remember Aleem touching me and I asked him politely to not touch me because if I touched him I’d be suspended for three matches. That’s all I can remember, coincidentally.”

This is what Michael Clarke had said about his confrontation with Umpire Aleem Dar during the Oval Test in the 2013 Ashes Test Series in England. Michael Clarke had set up the match on the final day with a bold declaration and set England a target of 227 from 40 overs. With the light fading at the Oval, Clarke did not like umpires continuing with the match. According to him, the light was much better in Manchester during the third test of the series when the match was called off.

“I think the concern from our players was the reading was taken so late”, said Clarke. “The reading in Manchester was 8.1 and then today it was 5.7 but at the end of the day what do you do? You do your best and try and set up a game and unfortunately home fans (react angrily).”

The match was called off with four overs left and England needing 21 runs to win to clinch the Ashes 4-0.

Aleem Dar pushing way Michael Clarke during an Ashes Test.

3. Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana finger pointing in Faislabad, 1987

This is considered as one of the lowest points in the history of cricket. The pictures of English captain Mike Gatting and Umpire Shakoor Rana pointing fingers and abusing each other on the field hit the image of cricket as ‘gentleman’s game’ badly.

Mike Gatting and other English players were anyway frustrated over the umpiring in the previous test against hosts Pakistan. In the second test at Faisalabad, Shakoor Rana and Gatting got into an argument when Rana called Gatting a cheat for distracting the batsman and not informing him of the field change. Gatting, who was now fed up with umpiring, went up to Rana at square leg and equally inappropriate insults. The world came across images of Gatting shouting and jabbing his finger towards an equally belligerent Rana before being dragged away by Bill Athey.

Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana arguing during the Faisalabad Test


“Gatting moved a fielder behind the batsman which was against the law and when I called it a dead ball he abused me which was against the values of this gentleman’s game. When I told him that it was against the rules, Gatting retorted saying ‘We made the rules'”, said Rana about the incident.

Situation got even more ugly, when Rana refused to officiate on the next day of the match and demanded a written apology from Mike Gatting. He finally gave a hand written apology to Rana on the fourth day because of pressures from the board.

If someone thought that situation would cool down after the match got over, it only worsened with Pakistan announcing Rana as the umpire for the next test. In turn, England offered it players a £1000 bonus for completing the tour.

Talk about Cricket being a Gentleman’s game.

Shakoor Rana demanding the apology from Mike Gatting

4. Colin Croft barges into Fred Goodall, Christchurch 1980:

When West Indies toured New Zealand in the 1980s, they were expected to roll over New Zealand quite easily, but the series didn’t go as expected. West Indies lost the first test at Dunedin, and they felt they were at the receiving end of some poor umpiring decisions so much so that it led to Michael Holding kicking the stumps in anger.

Michael Holding kicks stumps during the first test

Fred Goodall was the umpire who had given decisions in favour of the kiwis. During the second test at Christchurch, the West Indies team started dropping catches on purpose and fielding poorly as a protest against the dubious umpiring. But fast bowler Colin Croft had had enough. He first flicked the bails off the stumps, and the very next delivery barged into Goodall.

Croft maintained that he had lost his run-up but Goodall said it was completely intentional and Croft should have been banned. Later on, Goodall allegedly made derogatory marks about the West Indies at various speaking engagements. The then captain Clive Lloyd says he still regrets that things went so far. Watch the clip of Croft barging into umpire Fred Goodall:

5. Darrell Hair no balls Murali, Melbourne, 1995:

During the boxing day test match of 1995 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, umpire Darrell Hair kept no-balling Muttiah Muralidharan for chucking while standing at the bowler’s end and not while he was at square leg. Moreover, the other on-field umpire New Zealander Steve Dunne, had no issues whatsoever with Murali’s action when he was brought on from his end. This made Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga furious and he took the Sri Lankan team off the field only to return after some time.

The other umpire, Steve Dunne, also pointed out that the umpires can only report the action to the match referee and can’t take rule any action illegitimate.

Darrell Hair calls Muralidharan for chucking during boxing day test at MCG in 1995

6. Inzamam refuses to play because of Ball Tampering Charges, The Oval, 2006:

On the fourth day of the 4th test of the bilateral series between England and Pakistan, umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove awarded five penalty runs to England and held Pakistan team guilty of ball tampering. Pakistani captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and his players refused to take the field after tea in protest against the decision. The umpires told them to take the field and returned fifteen minutes later, and removed the bails two minutes after this and hence signalling the end of the match, which was awarded to England by forfeiture. This was the first time a match had ended like this in over 1000 test matches. The Pakistan team did come out 25 minutes later after the umpires removed the bails, but both Darrel Hair and Billy Doctrove said the match was over even though both the teams wanted to play.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove examining the ball during the oval test.



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Both the umpires came under heavy criticism for they way the handled the situation, and Darrel Hair was once again in the firing line to be banned for being biased against the Asians. During the hearing, the Pakistani team was cleared of ball tampering charges but Inzamam was banned for four ODIs for bringing the game into disrepute.

Here’s what Inzamam said about the incident:


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Gurkirat Singh Gill

168 articles

A sports enthusiast since 2003 with my first experience of connecting with sports being the Cricket World Cup 2003. Studying Engineering in Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, University of Delhi, but pretty sure will not become an Engineer.