Days after making history by winning their first-ever cricket match and then a maiden series victory in South Africa during the three-match ODIs, Bangladesh slumped to a 220-run defeat in the first Test against the Proteas at Kingsmead, Durban on Monday. The visitors, however, are not entirely sure if the defeat, which also featured a dramatic collapse in the second innings, was a result of their own doing. (More Cricket News)
There were chatters of "inconsistent" umpiring and "deplorable" sledging during the Durban Test. Now, they are ready to lodge a formal complaint with the game's international body, the ICC.
"We have already lodged one complaint about the umpiring after the ODI series. The match referee [Andy Pycroft] had an argument with our manager Nafees Iqbal, but then we gave him a written complaint. We will lodge another official complaint about this Test match," Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) cricket operations chief Jalal Yunus told ESPNcricinfo.
Having started the year on a very strong note with a win against the ICC World Test Championship holders New Zealand - which was also their first win in international cricket in New Zealand, a confident Bangladesh took on a depleted South Africa, and were hoping for more glory. But their best-laid plans were seemingly upended by poor umpiring.
After dismissing Dean Elgar & Co for 367 runs in the first innings, opener Mahmudul Hasan Joy hit 137 runs to help Bangladesh stay in the contest. But, chasing a target of 274 runs, Bangladesh found themselves getting all out for 53 runs with spinners Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer sharing all ten wickets between themselves.
Apparently, several decisions went against the visitors during the match. Captain Mominul Haque also claimed that they were subjected to severe sledging. During South Africa's second innings, Elgar survived on umpire's call early and then Bangladesh successfully overturned umpire Adrian Holdstock's not out decision for an LBW against Sarel Erwee. Later, Bangladesh didn't take a review against an LBW not out against Keegan Petersen, who looked a goner with the replays showing Khaled Ahmed's delivery would have hit the stumps.
Holdstock's officiating partner was Marais Erasmus, one of the most respected umpires in world cricket.
In fact, after the end of fourth day's play, Bangladesh team director Khaled Mahmud had said that they could have been "chasing 180 instead of 270" had some of the decisions gone their way.
"There was no hiding from the [poor] umpiring in today's play," ESPNcricinfo reported Mahmud as saying. "A number of decisions went against us. We also missed out on a wicket when the boys seemed scared of taking a review. If we got those decisions, we might be chasing 180 instead of 270. To be really honest, I have seen such inconsistency in umpiring after a long time. But the umpires are the best judge on the field. We have to accept the decisions."
Bangladesh's star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who had returned home after the ODIs due to family reasons, earlier took to Twitter and called for the ICC to reinstate neutral umpires. For the uninitiated, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the so-called 'non-neutral' home umpires are officiating cricket matches for obvious reasons.
Shakib's call was also backed by Bangladesh selector, Habibul Bashar. He also claimed that many umpiring decisions over the course of the game had not gone in their favour.
Claiming that "sledging definitely took place," Yunus said the umpires treated the Bangladesh players unfairly when they complained about it. And he cited one example.
"They surrounded [Mahmudul Hasan] Joy when he went out to bat," he said. "They were saying something. He couldn't say anything back since he is a junior player. It was deplorable. Instead of controlling the situation, the umpires warned our players whenever we made complaints against the sledging.
"Sledging definitely took place from both sides, but when they started it and took it overboard, we complained to the umpires. It wasn't acceptable. We properly condemn it. We have to accept the umpires' decisions, but the ICC must reinstate neutral umpires."
The visitors were not also happy with the delay in the start of the match on Day 1 due to a sightscreen issue by half an hour.
The second and final Test match at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth starts April 8 (Friday). The match is sure to be an acrimonious one given the turn of events in the last few days.
"Sledging is quite normal, but the umpires didn't seem to notice it," captain Mominul had said after the game. "The umpiring in the match is not in our control, but I think the ICC should think about bringing back neutral umpires."
South Africa vs Bangladesh, 2nd Test can be watched live on Star Sports Network. Fans can also stream the clash live on Disney+ Hotstar.
Bangladesh are yet to win a Test match against South Africa. They have lost all but two in their previous 13 meetings. In South Africa, it's 7-0 in the favour of the hosts.