Referrals could soon rely on Hot Spot
The video referral system is likely to feature Hot Spot technology for the second Test in Durban after receiving mixed reviews from Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith at the Wanderers. The trial in Johannesburg was far less controversial than the West Indies-England Test in Barbados but there was a strong consensus from the players that the third umpire should have access to any proven technology.
Whereas devices like the Snickometer and Hawkeye have their critics the Hot Spot infrared camera, which is mainly used to reveals edges, is regarded as the most accurate of the technological aids used in television broadcasts. Ponting said after Australia's win at the Wanderers that he understood Hot Spot would be available to the umpires for the remainder of the series.
"I think they're going to be using Hot Spot in Durban and Cape Town in the next two Test matches," Ponting said. "I don't think they could get the cameras here or something. That was something that was mentioned in the referee's meeting before the game.
"It was something that we the Australian team actually objected to, that we maybe should use it in all the three games or not at all. But we felt for the betterment of the trial basis that we should, because that wasn't available here we don't use it here, but we'll definitely give it a run in the next two games."
Edges proved to be difficult for the third umpire Asad Rauf to adjudicate on in Johannesburg, where the dismissal of Mark Boucher in the first innings was particularly uncertain. Boucher was given caught behind and immediately referred the decision, clearly convinced he had not touched the ball.
The replays gave Rauf no firm evidence that the on-field decision was incorrect and Boucher was forced to go. Smith said he did not have much confidence in the referral system as it stood and he felt the TV official needed access to more technology.
"There were decisions that were got wrong on the referrals in this match," Smith said. "You still have got a touch of human error. If 20 of us are looking at the same replay we are all going to have different decisions.
"It's difficult to pick up those slight edges, whether you've nicked it or hit your pad. Hopefully if we are going to carry on using the system then it all is there for the next Test and we can get a better idea of whether it is good for the game or not."
Ponting's assessment of his first experience with the system was not as negative as that of Smith. In the first over of South Africa's second innings Smith survived an lbw shout that the Australians had referred and Ponting said the hardest thing was for a captain to know when to go to the third umpire.
"It's a challenging thing for the captain because you've got to react so quickly," Ponting said. "You've got to talk to the wicketkeeper, you've got to talk to the bowler, you've got to try to get their attention at different times and you've only got a few seconds to react.
"It worked okay in this game. There have been other games that have been played overseas at the moment where it hasn't worked out quite as well. But I'm happy with the way things turned out here."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo