Howling wind wipes out umpire reviews
Wellington's notorious wind scuppered the Umpire Decision Review System on the fourth day as gusts of up to 120kph left the hi-tech cameras too unsteady to be relied upon. The problems emerged when the Australians referred a not-out lbw against Brendon McCullum, only to be told the projected path was unavailable.
Confusion reigned for several minutes while Ricky Ponting and Daniel Vettori conferred with the umpires and eventually the on-field decision was upheld but the Australians did not lose their review. The ball-tracking cameras at the Scoreboard End are mounted on a scaffold and were shaking in the gale, which made their projections unreliable, while the side-on Hot Spot cameras were taken down to protect them.
The match referee Javagal Srinath told both teams that reviews would be assessed on a case-by-case basis and if the technology was not adequate, the on-field decision would stand and no review would be lost. However, the problem did not arise again after the McCullum incident, partly because of the long delays due to bad light that reduced the day to 52 overs.
"The cameras that are involved in the UDRS are shaking quite a bit so they are unable to do the job," Srinath said. "These are very unfamiliar conditions, what we are facing today, so they are not able to get the pictures across to us. All of the cameras are shaking. It is a very unusual day, a very, very unusual day. We know it is not the best in terms of decision-making."
Nathan Hauritz, who bowled the big-turning offbreak that led to the McCullum referral, said there was uncertainty out on the field until word came through on the umpires' walkie-talkies. The players were told about the weather problems and Hauritz had to deal with the disappointment of missing what he felt would have been a wicket, after McCullum didn't offer a shot.
"We didn't really know anything until the actual appeal and then we found out Hawk-eye (it was actually Virtual Eye) wasn't working because of the wind," Hauritz said. "You can't really do much about it. It was just going to be off until they could put it back on, but the wind didn't change through the day so it sort of made any real challenge tough to do because at the end of the day the third umpire is just going on what the normal umpires see."
The wind, which was described by Tim McIntosh as the strongest he had ever encountered in Wellington, made things hard for players and groundstaff as well as the match officials. Covers were blown from under the feet of falling groundsmen and equipment was hurled all over the place but Hauritz played down the impact of the gusts on his 23 overs into the wind on the fourth day.
"It wasn't too bad to be honest," Hauritz said. "It was very windy at times but you can't do much about it, it's out of our control. It made it difficult at times, I reckon it would have been just as tough running down wind, trying to get that control. The wind might have played into my hands a bit, made it a bit harder to hit but it certainly was a new challenge and it was pretty good."
Hauritz picked up the only wicket of the day, when Vettori bottom-edged a sweep and played on. But more than Hauritz, more than Vettori or even McCullum, who finished unbeaten on 94, Wellington's weather was the most important player of the day.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo