Indian national cricket team hadn’t very positive experiences with the former Australian cricket umpire Daryl Harper. Recently, the 68-year-old opened up the story of his last international series, where the Indian captain MS Dhoni didn’t like his umpiring and even openly criticised him for that.
Daryl Harper came to the limelight during the 1999 Adelaide Test when he controversially gave the Indian captain Sachin Tendulkar out Shoulder Before Wicket.
Harper’s last international match as an umpire was during the Kingston Test between West Indies and India in June 2011. It was the opening game of the three-match Test series where the Indian pacer Praveen Kumar made debut along with Virat Kohli and Abhinav Mukund. In the second innings of that Test match, Praveen was banned from bowling for the remaining period of that innings after getting the third warning for running on the danger area of the pitch.
Umpire Harper banned Praveen while the Indian captain MS Dhoni suggested the umpire to become lenient to the Test debutant pacer. However, Harper didn’t feel the same thing as Praveen already played more than 50 limited-overs international matches.
Harper told Asianet Newsable, “Maybe he was letting off steam and hadn’t appreciated me removing Test debutant Praveen Kumar from the attack for repeatedly running down the middle of the pitch into the protected area. I recall MS suggesting I should have been more lenient to the newcomer, but Praveen had already played in 52 ODIs before his first Test so he knew the Laws. I have a very good memory and recall MS responding to me when I informed him that the bowler was banned for the rest of the innings.”
Harper was also the umpire who banned the young Indian left-arm pacer, Ashish Nehra, in middle of Zimbabwe‘s second innings during the 2001 Bulawayo Test. It was Nehra’s second Test where another umpire Russell Tiffin gave him the first two warnings in that same innings for running on the danger area of the pitch. So, Harper banned Nehra for the rest of the innings in the middle of his 27th over of that innings after making the similar mistake again.
Harper feels that the 2011 Kingston Test captain Dhoni knew about Nehra-banned incident as the umpire continued, “’We’ve had trouble with you before, Harper,’ were Dhoni’s exact words. I laughed aloud heartily as I wandered away to square-leg which probably wasn’t a respectful response on my behalf. Maybe MS knew that Praveen Kumar was only the second Indian bowler to be banned in a Test match for repeatedly running into the protected area. Maybe MS knew that the first Indian bowler to be banned had been Ashish Nehra in a Test in Bulawayo in 2000. Maybe MS knew the name of the umpire who had taken that rare action.”
MS Dhoni wasn’t happy with the umpiring decisions during the 2011 Kingston Test
India won the 2011 Kingston Test by 63 runs. However, Dhoni wasn’t happy with the umpiring of that match.
Dhoni had claimed after that game, “If the correct decisions were made the game would have finished much earlier and I would have been in the hotel by now.”
Harper admitted that his mistakes stretched the Test for longer but also added the Test would have been shorter too if the Indian fielders didn’t miss their chances.
The former umpire said, “After the Test was won by India, MS was reported to have said to the media assembled that the players would have been back in their hotel rooms earlier if the umpires had made the correct decisions. It’s true… but they would have been back earlier if the Indian fieldsmen had taken their catches as well. Sometimes I wished I could have attended those post-match press conferences on a regular basis in order to set the record straight.”
Harper also revealed that he had the actual contract to also officiate the final match of that three-match Test series at Dominica. But that Kingston Test became his last Test as an umpire while he also admitted some of his mistakes in that match.
Harper quoted, “It did turn out to be my final Test, but my contract was due to expire two weeks later after the third Test in Dominica so the end was close, regardless of any comments by MS Dhoni or anyone else. I accepted that I had made two incorrect decisions during the match and some other moments could not be determined with the available technology. I didn’t have a clean sheet and that always disappointed me when it happened, but my decision-making statistics in Tests with India were second to none at the time.”