Former New Zealand captain Maia Lewis is "gutted" for the White Ferns after their World Cup umpiring fiasco and says the International Cricket Council is guilty of double standards over its choice of officials and the umpire decision review system (DRS).
The White Ferns need to beat a powerful England side by a significant margin in their final Super Six match tonight and hope Australia beat the West Indies to have any chance of sneaking into the final.
Their crucial 48-run loss to West Indies in Mumbai was blighted by four poor lbw decisions, three of them shockers from Indonesian umpire Shahul Hameed, who had not stood in an international for nearly four years. There was no comeback via the DRS, which is not being used at the tournament.
"It's disappointing the standard of umpires they've allocated. Some like Kathy Cross from New Zealand are top-notch, whereas there's the guy from Indonesia where there's a small pool of players and limited experience," Lewis said.
"It's not a breeding ground, this is women's elite and that's what they need to treat it as. Whatever they're doing for the men, they should be doing for the women because these women put in just as much time, if not more, than the men so they deserve that right."
Lewis said DRS would have saved New Zealand's best player, Sophie Devine, who got a thick inside edge, while opener Frances Mackay and Kate Broadmore could have successfully challenged their decisions, which were clearly missing leg stump.
"I'm sure money would be related to it but if that's what they're going to use for the men at the top level, then they should do the same for the women. It should just be a given. That's a prime example where a potential World Cup result could be affected."
Still, Lewis believed New Zealand had opportunities to develop partnerships in their chase for 208 to win, despite the poor umpiring. They folded for 159 in the 45th.
"They probably didn't play well enough. They would fully admit there are areas they can work on."
Hameed umpired 10 men's ODIs, the last of those between Ireland and Scotland in 2007. His last international appointment was at the 2009 women's World Cup.
Poor umpiring has already provoked comment at the tournament, when England suffered a crucial two-run loss to Australia. England skipper Charlotte Edwards said: "Two poor decisions definitely don't help."
Captain Suzie Bates and New Zealand Cricket would not comment on the umpiring. The ICC meanwhile issued a statement to the Cricinfo website. It said:
"These officials include some of the best up-and-coming umpires who will push for promotion to be the next generation of elite panel umpires."
- The Dominion Post