New Zealand v Australia, 1st Test, Wellington, 4th day March 22, 2010

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scott on March 23, 2010, 0:05 GMT exactly is it biased toward the team feilding??? if the umpire had given McCullum out and he had called for a review then he would have had to go because of the same circumstances. and to say southee doesn't matter as much is pretty ignorant, how can you say for certain he wouldn't have gone on one of his occasional whirlwind innings and hit a quick 30 which he has been known to do? all this rubbish about it being unfair toward the aussies is just typical of the aussie cricketers when things don't go their way. GET OVER IT

  • Ian on March 22, 2010, 22:50 GMT

    I don't want to get involved in a tit for tat with Paul Hawkins on the merits of our respective systems, Virtual Eye v Hawk Eye. But anyone who saw video of the roller being blown across the Basin Reserve or the groundsman being dragged while attempting to hold down the covers will know these were exceptional winds. The end on cameramen had to be strapped to the stands, the run out cameras were taken down because of the risk to them and the Hot Spot and LBW cameras at the South end were, at times, unusable. Under these circumstances, and in this instance, our operator made the decision that our data was outside the tolerances we expect.

    For the record, VE was certified by the MCC Measuring Committee in 2008 with an accuracy of 1.9mm. HE under the same tests, according to Paul's own press, was 2.3mm.

    I don't doubt Paul has methods for handling wind - as do we - however I would certainly not feel qualified to comment, as he has, on the exceptional conditions from half a world away.

  • Kahurangi on March 22, 2010, 21:55 GMT

    It all evens out in the end. Can't really agree with NZ being the fairest team around - McCullum has had his share of controversy - but Australia isn't the cleanest, the Haddin 'bowled' dismissal comes to mind. Sure Southee isn't McCullum but then it shouldn't really matter should it? Decisions should be consistent whether the batsman is Chris Martin or Ricky Ponting. Tailenders tend to get rough umpire decisions. As for the Southee evidence being conclusive, noise when the ball has passed the bat is always dodgy evidence to go on, and seeing it live it didn't sound like a 'woody' sound. You would have to be on a different planet to not realise it wasn't out, confirmed by the replay which showed a decent 5 cm gap between bat and ball. Southee rightly couldn't quite believe it. Saying that was out is like saying Taylor wasn't caught plumb in front, which he clearly was. Johnson sure picks up a lot of tinny wickets from wide full balls nicked behind doesn't he?

  • David on March 22, 2010, 21:45 GMT

    Lets get one thing straight. It is by no means certain that McCullum would have been out. The ball may have been clipping off stump or it may have missed. Remember at least half the ball must hit the stumps to over turn the decision. Lets not get to carried away.

    To the guy who callls himself hawkeye inventor. According to sky TV who have dealt with hawkeye before changing to virtual eye - it wouldn't have mattered whos technology they were using because if the cameras are shaking violently in 130km/hr, they aren't going to produce good images. Has hawk eye ever been used in such conditions? I suspect not.

    I think we just have to accept the conditions were freakish.

  • Andrew on March 22, 2010, 20:31 GMT

    HOTSPOT cameras were not taken down yesterday in Wellington, the cameras that were taken down were the side-on runout cameras.

  • Andrew on March 22, 2010, 20:09 GMT

    Styris didn't deny that Johnson Head-butted him, he merely played it down due to politics. Johnson was fined for "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players in the course of play" by the match referee Ranjan Madugalle, so that's enough evidence of contact. Johnson has been involved in this kind of thing before, why wasn't he banned, Suli Benn stinks of favourism. Aussies get of your high horses.

  • Tobias on March 22, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    Wgtnfan.....unfortunately southee doesn't matter as much as mccullum. It's not fair if one side can use reviews and one can't. I also think that Australia have a worse reputation than they deserve as even Styris denied that Johnson head-butted him. If they play Tests in Wellington then there should be no UDRS as it provides an unfair advantage dependant on who is fielding at the time of bad weather.

  • Ketan on March 22, 2010, 11:52 GMT

    Its great to use video technology to be fair to players - but i feel it should be restricted only to run outs and stumpings and the snick-o-meter for caught behinds. Apart from these, the umpire must, whether right or wrong, take the decision independently. I say this because if most of the things can be referred back, the quality of umpiring is bound to deteriote even in other areas because the concentration level will reduce. When the decision can be given by video footage the responsibility is passed on even if the umpire is dead sure of the outcome. Its a waste of time but of course good for the sponsors...Umpiring mistakes have their own charm even long after the game is over and we must be careful that technology should not take that away.

  • Scott on March 22, 2010, 11:47 GMT

    @Popcorn. that is a shocking call mate when you consider, as Ross says below, some of the shockers aus have been involved in. how "gracefully" did Johnson take being spanked around the park by styris? The Black Caps are the most honest and fair team in international cricket as is shown by them winning the spirit of cricket awards. and if you think the aussies have been done in just look back 24hrs earlier when southee was given after he edged thin air

  • Morgan on March 22, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    Its funny how people say that because the technology was not used, that we are owned a debt of gratitude... andmaybe perhaps there could be something in it, but you need to look at the larger picture popcorn... Whilst the game was delayed, there was a replay of a NZ vs AUS test match in 2005, only 5 years ago... NO REFERRALS and half of the LBW calls were BAD, one example was in it hit pad THEN bat, and the replay only seconds later showed the batsman should have been out, but he was given not out,,, now days hot spot would clear that up... I would say stop whinging at the umpires call as this has been going on since the dawn of cricket.... and live with the fact it happened and there is still another day of cricket to be played

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