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December 18, 2009
The series turned feisty on the third day at Centurion Park, when England's No. 8, Stuart Broad, was involved in an ugly on-field exchange with the umpires after being given out lbw following a delayed review from the South Africans.
England have not enjoyed much benefit from the system's use in this match and Broad's anger stemmed from the length of time it took for JP Duminy, the bowler, and the captain, Graeme Smith, to call for the opinion of the TV umpire. "Because of the amount of time that the decision took, we just asked the umpires," said Graeme Swann, who was Broad's partner at the time. "We didn't know out in the middle how much time was allowed."
ICC guidelines clearly state that the decision has to be made swiftly. "The total time elapsed between the ball becoming dead and the review request being made should be no more than a few seconds," the ruling reads. "If the umpires believe that a request has not been made sufficiently promptly, they may at their discretion decline to review the decision."
About 35 seconds elapsed before the third umpire was called in, and when replays showed the ball hitting the stumps, Broad was given out. Before walking off he marched over to Aleem Dar and Steve Davis to remonstrate and was clearly unhappy as he left the field. An England spokesman confirmed they will be taking up their concerns about the delay with match referee Roshan Mahanama, but do not expect Broad to face censure.
Initially there was some suggestion that the South Africans had received a signal from the dressing room but this was played down by both sides. "They [the umpires] said they hadn't seen any signal from the dressing room, so the decision has to stand - and when you've seen the replay it was out, so perhaps the review system does work sometimes," Swann said.
"With TV cameras all round the ground, someone has probably picked up something somewhere," he added. "But as far as the guys in the middle and the team are concerned, we're certainly not pointing the finger at South Africa, and saying 'you definitely did it'. We're just saying that, with the amount of time, there was certainly ample opportunity for maybe a message to get out."
The ICC's ruling on off-field input is very clear. "If the umpires believe that the captain or batsman has received direct or indirect input emanating other than from the players on the field, then they may at their discretion decline the request for a Player Review. In particular, signals from the dressing room must not be given."
Paul Harris confirmed he hadn't seen anything come from his dressing room during the delay between the appeal and the review being called. "By the time I got there from the boundary I think AB de Villiers had said to Graeme that we might as well take it," he said. "I think at one stage Biff [Graeme Smith] wasn't going to take it and changed his mind. As far as I'm concerned there was no message from the changing room, I don't think our coaching staff would do that, as it isn't in the spirit of the game. It was just a late decision from Graeme."
The UDRS has been the centre of attention during this Test. The most controversial decision was when England were convinced they had AB de Villiers caught-behind in the first innings, but replays were inconclusive, although it has worked well in all the other cases it has been used. Still, England clearly aren't won over just yet.
"Certainly the system has a few irregularities that need ironing out quickly if it's going to be a lasting method for technology to be used in Test cricket," Swann said. "We've seen the issues that need sorting in this game. We hope they'll be sorted ASAP."
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