England v Australia, 2nd npower Test, Lord's, 4th day July 19, 2009

Umpires frustrate Australia


The umpire referral system, due to be implemented in October, cannot come fast enough. After four days of controversy at Lord's, in which Rudi Koertzen and Billy Doctrove have lurched from one crisis to another, players and spectators were left to ponder just how "challenges" might have averted a series of situations that left two nations frustrated and a match disrupted.

The Ashes will be the penultimate Test series to be played under the old system, and more is the pity. Access to television replays would have gone far to sparing the blushes of the umpires and the ire of Australians after Simon Katich, Phillip Hughes and Michael Hussey were ruled out to decisions that ranged from dubious to incorrect on Sunday.

Katich's dismissal to an Andrew Flintoff no-ball might have been difficult for the batting team to detect and challenge, but the controversy surrounding Hughes' departure could have been avoided. Hughes' was ruled out to an Andrew Strauss catch in which fingers, ball and turf were in close proximity to one another. A challenge would have sent the adjudication process the way of the third umpire, who presumably would have found the replays to be inconclusive - as per the universal opinion of non-partisan commentators and scribes - and offered the benefit of the doubt to the batsman.

As it transpired, Koertzen and Doctrove stood accused of double standards, having declined to refer Hughes' dismissal to Nigel Llong, the third umpire, a day after sending Nathan Hauritz's claimed catch at mid-on upstairs. Replays of Hauritz's effort were similarly inconclusive, and Ravi Bopara was allowed to continue his innings.

Tim Nielsen, the Australian coach, refused to be dragged into an umpiring controversy, but admitted concern that Koertzen and Doctrove had not referred Strauss's catch to Llong. "I would have liked to see it go to the third umpire from a consistency point of view, there's no doubt about that," he said. "In the end, we've all seen the replays. People will make their decisions. At the moment the scorebook says that Phillip Hughes is sitting up with me. There's nothing much we can do about it now. Let's play on and look forward to tomorrow.

"We couldn't afford to get angry. We were in the middle of a game. We had to be conscious of the guy who was going in next. Once the decision was made, that batsman's impact on the game was finished. So we had to be aware of the environment we created for the next guy and the guys after him and the guy after him. You can't afford to be angry. You've just got to get on with it and make sure the next bloke has the chance to play as well as he can."

Graeme Swann, for his part, said England were not upset that Hughes, under orders from Ricky Ponting at the non-strikers' end, had stood his ground after Strauss claimed the catch. The incident prompted Koertzen to consult with Doctrove at square-leg for the third time in the match, the previous two of which have resulted in referrals to Llong.

"I think it's just accepted these days that the batsmen have a right to stand and ask if it carried," Swann said. "The umpire saw it and said it carried, and I was at third slip and thought it carried. As far as we were concerned, there was no problem with that catch. It went straight in. Fifty years ago, it would have been down to the word of the fielder, but these days, with all the technology, I don't think you can blame anyone for standing around."

Swann was himself party to a contentious decision when Doctrove ruled Hussey to have edged one of his deliveries to first slip. Replays showed that Hussey's bat had struck the ground, not the ball. Had the batsman the right of appeal, the ensuing controversy would almost certainly have been avoided.

"I was surprised," Swann said of the dismissal. "As far as I was concerned it pitched, it turned, there was a big nick and it went straight to slip. If it didn't nick his edge I feel sorry for Michael because he's a mate of mine and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But there were no qualms from anyone in the middle. As far as we were concerned it was a regulation nick to slip. These things sometimes happen."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nick on July 21, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    PS Rooboy, I love it. What is cricket again?? A game with a few sticks and a ball.

    Warnie for OBE

  • Nick on July 21, 2009, 14:21 GMT

    What a mixed bag of comments.

    Re Strauss' catch all you can ask for is consistency. If Strauss' catch was out then why wasn't Hauritz's.

    Common thread, no one like Ponting. Agreed. Who would take over? Clarke? Not yet.

    Keep up the banter.

  • SHUBHAM on July 20, 2009, 14:57 GMT

    @Josephus I wrote a msg earlier.. not sure if its getting printed.. this is much toned down version - the prob is aussies talk of all - spirit of cricket, racism etc etc.. but in truth you guys (cricket team) dont have guts to take it back - ha ha ha.. i think you dont read your newspaper.. your media is making such a hullabo about these 3 wickets - btw everyone in this world knows who reacts like spoilt children...!!! I can say one thing for sure... the way ICC code of conduct gives punishment.. it is obvious who is treated how.

  • Vishwas on July 20, 2009, 11:49 GMT

    It's never a matter of concern until calamity befalls you, isn't it? Now the Aussies know what the Indians might have gone through after the mockery of a test match at Sydney in 2008. No wonder they say cricket is such a leveler.

  • omar on July 20, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    Come on Ricky, if Strauss says it carried it carried.Remember in Sydney against India when you played 'umpire' in the Ganguly dismissal.If memory serves me correct it was you who sent Ganguly on his way after Clarke told you he caught the ball.It was you who raised 'the dreaded finger'.That was the first time I ever saw an 'umpire' in a slip cordon.Now the shoe is on your foot it is hurting a little isn't it.Stop complaining and see how other captains usually feel when playing against you.

  • Arthur on July 20, 2009, 11:28 GMT

    @vs1984 - you have not grasped the point of my original post. I was reiterating that the Indian administrators, players and fans reacted like spoilt children in the face of the umpiring mistakes at Sydney in 2008. My point is that you will not see this from their Australian counterparts. It's not new of course, but when Sunny marched off with his stunned tailender all those years ago, that was Sunny being Sunny. Nowdays, Indians seem more aggrieved because they feel that it's their "turn" to top world cricket. This needs to be earned, and not just paid for.

    @dhaliwaljassi/@Avid.Cricket.Watcher - Well I agree with you too! I love the passion shown by cricket fans around the world (thank goodness the yanks never really get how great a game we have). But Avid, where was that passion when the Indians (brilliantly) blew the Aussies away at home in 2008? The stands were only half full at best when India reclaimed the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Is it all about the Bollyglam of T20 now?

  • Robert on July 20, 2009, 11:22 GMT

    If the technology is there then they should use it - all of it - snicko, hotspot, hawkeye the lot. That way we won't have to listed to the droves of Aussies bellyaching about ever decision that has not gone their way.

  • Arthur on July 20, 2009, 11:10 GMT

    @oneders - yours is a perfect example and no doubt we can all remember matches that were unduly influenced by poor umpiring, but I was really referring to how cricketers, administrators and fans react in these instances. As for Ponting, I think his intentions are good (in accepting the fielder's word) but outdated and he needs to accept modern cricket (somewhat sadly) leaves little room for a "gentleman's code".

    @the_silent_observer - like many I acknowledge India's commercial influence and importance in world cricket. But I do not believe that this means the game should be held hostage by a petulant (albeit lucrative) child. That's not progress, that's a recipe for the degradation of a beautiful game. As for the English, they probably used to "take it on the chin" a little too politely, one of the reasons why I respect Michael Vaughan so much as he could blend pride and integrity so well.

  • gopinathan on July 20, 2009, 11:06 GMT

    As afar as i am concerned this issues related to players making an impacton catches was promoted to its best by ricky pointing. Hope every one remeber the catch that pointing claimed against the indians in australia. He tought himself to be the umpire for "Winning a match at any cost situation". the same table has turn around.... now he is getting screwed up.. hope australia loses this match and also the series because of this. so that this becomes a lesson for every australian player.

  • kym on July 20, 2009, 11:04 GMT

    I'm Australian and support Australia. The umpiring in the 2nd test has been inept HOWEVER Australia should be playing cricket of sufficient standard so that the quality of umpiring isn't a factor. Ricky.P is a sublime batsman but as a captain his decision making and strategy execution is hopeless. He cost us a likely win with his "never mind the quality feel the width" bowling tactic in the last few overs of the 1st Test. Mitchell.J is so bad on this tour as to be an embarrassment and he has, more than anyone else handed the 2nd Test to England. Phillip.H should be grateful to Mitchell.J otherwise the spotlight would be focussed on him and his non-contributions with the bat. There are only 5 tests with 3 remaining and the Ashes are at stake ... Mitchell.J and Phillip.H should be rested for the remaining 3 Tests and Ponting's captaincy performance needs to be addressed post-Ashes.

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