A hero close to zero

GAYLECANBERRA. — One Australian website called it a robbery and Chris Gayle, who caught the imagination of the cricket world yesterday with his record-breaking double century against Zimbabwe, knows he came perilously close to being dismissed for zero at the Manuka Oval.

It’s hard not to feel for Tinashe Panyangara, who bowled a magical first over with only the reward of Dwayne Smith’s wicket, on a day when the umpires and technology combined not to make him the hero with that status going to Gayle.

The Windies batsman scored 215, off just 147 balls and powered himself into the record books, while Panyangara ended up with figures of 1-82 from his nine overs as the men from the Caribbean won a key World Cup Group B tie against Zimbabwe by 73 runs on the Duckworth Lewis method after rain interruption.

But anyone who saw the match, and knows his cricket, will tell you that Gayle should have been back in the hut with a duck for his efforts only for a poor umpiring decision by Australian umpire Steve Davis and questionable Hawk Eye projection somehow saved him.

He said, after his match-winning knock, he felt even his enemies wanted him to hit a big score yesterday and he might add Davis and Hawk Eye to that list.

The authoritative Australian cricket website, Cricket.com.au, ran a headline that screamed “Contentious Hawk Eye projection saves Gayle”, and said “Zimbabwe ‘robbed’ after West Indies opener survives close LBW shout at Manuka Oval.”

The website said Gayle benefited from a poor Hawk Eye ruling.

“Chris Gayle’s record-breaking double century against Zimbabwe came after he benefited from a questionable Hawk Eye ruling from the very first ball he faced,” the website said.

“With the Windies already 1-1 after Dwayne Smith was bowled by Tinashe Panyangara on the second ball of the match, Gayle was struck on the pad first ball. Umpire Steve Davis gave Gayle not out, but Zimbabwe reviewed the decision and initial replays showed the delivery from Panyangara to be pitching in line and hitting Gayle’s pad in front of the stumps and on the lower half of the knee roll.

“Commentators Shane Warne and Pommie Mbangwa were convinced that Davis’ original decision would be overturned and Gayle sent on his way.

“But the Hawk Eye ball-tracking system projected the ball would have just clipped the top of the stumps, meaning the original decision was upheld and Gayle survived.”

The West Indies opener, observed Cricket.com.au, was batting out of his crease and playing forward, but Warne and former Zimbabwe player Mbangwa were stunned at the Hawk Eye projection. “I reckon he’s dodged a bullet there,” Mbangwa said.

“He’s going to feel very lucky.”

Warne added: “That to me didn’t look right. There’s no way that’s going over the top of the stumps. I just reckon Zimbabwe have been robbed there.

“To me that was going on to smash the stumps. It staggers me that it bounced that high.”

Making matters worse for Zimbabwe, the ruling meant they lost their one unsuccessful review for the innings in the very first over. Gayle made the most of the close call and went on to post a World Cup record innings of 215, including a record-equalling 16 sixes in an innings. Gayle broke multiple records on his way to the first ever double century at a World Cup, helping the Windies post a mammoth total of 2-372 from their 50 overs.

Australian newspaper, The Courier Mail, which is based in Brisbane, said “Gayle double ton could have been over on zero”

“Chris Gayle ended up making a mammoth 215 against Zimbabwe, but the West Indies superstar was lucky to make any runs at all,” the newspaper said.

“Gayle broke multiple records on his way to the first ever double century at a World Cup, helping the Windies post a mammoth total of 2-372 from their 50 overs.

“But the hard-hitting left-hander rode his luck throughout the innings, earning several reprieves including a controversial ‘umpire’s call’ from the Decision Review System.

“Gayle was struck on the pad facing his first ball of the day, and just the fourth of the innings.

“Zimbabwe paceman Tinashe Panyangara went up for an lbw appeal, but Australian umpire Steve David shook his head, prompting the Zimbabweans to call for a review.”

British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, also ran with Gayle’s lucky charm.

“Gayle was nearly out first ball, lbw to Tinashe Panyangara. He was given not out by Steve Davis, but Zimbabwe reviewed his decision, and it was a bail-clipper. The verdict: umpire’s call,” the newspaper said.

Even the Windies player himself appeared to be surprised.

“Overall with the innings, I struggled at the start,” said Gayle afterwards. “It was scary, the first ball as well. I was like: ‘Come on, you’re not serious, I can’t be out on this first ball.’ I needed a chance and I got a break and made the best use of it.”

Trent Copeland, commenting on Twitter, suggested that Hawk Eye might have blinked when “Dwayne Smith got bowled.”

Former Sports Minister, David Coltart, used Twitter to also question the decision.

“Cricket is a funny game — Gayle was pretty much plumb lbw when on zero — had he been given out no one would have criticised the decision,” Coltart tweeted.

Zimbabwe all-rounder, Sean Williams, said they were sure they had got the big wicket in the first over.

“I thought we had Gayle out in the first over. From the naked eye it looked out but obviously the Hawk Eye didn’t go our way. Gayle can clear any ground in the world,” said Williams.

“I started off very well, but obviously I have got to build on this and learn from it and score some big runs. If I had stayed with Craig Ervine, we could have got a lot closer.”

Charles Dagnall, BBC

Test Match Special

“Zimbabwe have been impressive with the bat. They could easily have been 120 all out. They are just being let down a little bit by their bowlers.”

The Brisbane Times sang the same song.

“If Zimbabwe opening bowler Tinashe Panyanagara’s first ball to Gayle was a fraction lower, the master blaster would have been out LBW for a golden duck in the first over.

“Luckily for him, the umpire gave him not out as Hawk Eye showed the ball just clipping the top of the stops, which gives a decision of umpire’s call,” the newspaper said