South Africa v England, 4th Test, Johannesburg, 2nd day January 15, 2010

England lodge complaint over Smith reprieve

Cricinfo staff

England have announced they intend to lodge an official complaint following Graeme Smith's controversial reprieve by the third umpire, Daryl Harper, during the second day of the fourth and final Test at Johannesburg.

Smith, who top-scored for South Africa with 105, his 20th Test century, appeared to be given a let-off on 15 when he attempted a cut against Ryan Sidebottom and appeared to feather a nick through to the keeper, Matt Prior.

Although the onfield umpire, Tony Hill, initially turned down England's appeals, the captain, Andrew Strauss, immediately used one of his team's two reviews, and the TV replays seemed to indicate an audible snick as the ball passed the bat.

However, Harper upheld the onfield decision, claiming that he could not hear any noise on the replay that he was being shown in the third umpire's booth. An angry England coach, Andy Flower, claimed that this was because he had the volume too low on his television set, and confirmed that an official complaint was being made to the match referee, Roshan Mahanama.

"He has obviously hit it because you can hear the nick on the replays," said Flower. "I don't blame him for standing but certainly with the technology available and everyone can hear the nick on referral, I find it very surprising that he hasn't been given out."

Umpire Harper was at the centre of a previous review controversy involving England on their tour of the Caribbean in the spring, and Flower did not seek to mince his words. "I am not surprised he didn't hear it because he didn't turn the volume up on his speaker," he said. "I find it strange if you are listening for a nick you don't turn the volume up on your speaker."

The initial belief, among confused commentators, was that the SABC feed used by the third umpire must have come from a different source to those used by Sky and Supersport, on which the noise was clearly audible. However, after seeking clarification from Mahanama, Flower discovered that this was not the case.

"We found out that wasn't correct and one audio feed is used for everyone, and the second time [Mahanama] said that Daryl Harper had not switched up the volume on his mike and that is why we have heard the nick but the third umpire hasn't. If it wasn't such a serious match for us I would have found it amusing, I think it's very disappointing.

"They said they did not deem it necessary to turn up the volume. But in the pre-series match referees meeting both Dave Richardson from the ICC and Mahanama explained on caught-behind referrals the volume would be turned up."

For cost reasons, neither Snickometer nor HotSpot are being used in this series despite their successful application in other parts of the world, a state of affairs that Flower described as "illogical". "We were assured that, because we don't have that technology available, they would turn up the volume to listen for nicks," he added. "They didn't do that today and I find that hard to understand."

Smith, for his part, did not deny there had been a noise, but maintained that he had stood his ground with good reason. "There definitely was a noise but I didn't feel I'd touched the ball," he said. "Even talking to Ashwell [Prince] as the review was going on I didn't feel the ball hit the bat. That can happen, maybe it did, maybe it didn't.

"I thought it was my thumb on the bat handle, and I still don't feel like I hit it."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Terry on January 17, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    Smith should not be blamed for not walking, its his duty to ensure his wicket isnt lost (Gilchrist was wrong on this. If it was still gentlemens game then he wouldnt have been suspended for a game 10 years ago for speaking his mind TO A COACH!) Nor should the third umpire be blamed he was just doing his job as he understood it. If the decision was incorrect then either he wasnt trained to use the equipment or isnt suitable for review umpire decisions However there IS NO evidence sufficient to prove that the decision was even a mistake. Traditional approach would not give this out (onfield umpire made traditionally correct call) & third umpire saw insufficient proof (unknown sound isnt proof) Several situations recently have shown where an unknown sound onfield turned out to not be bat/glove related (usually batsmen sliding his feet) Problem is players & fans are expecting 100% decision to be correct according to them. There will always be controversal decisions & always mistakes made.

  • abinanthan on January 17, 2010, 1:33 GMT

    First of all, the snickometer is not used in this match. No deflection in the ball is visible. Only the sound was present. Does a sound (presumably of an edge) alone is enough to overturn the on-filed umpire's decision? If UDRS rules say yes, then Harper is the culprit.

    BTW, Smith not walking is not at all an option here. Whay should he walk when 99% of batsmen dont? Sachin Tendulkar once said about umpire decision going against you.. if you play long enough, you will get lucky sometimes and unlucky sometimes. Law of average will equate it and no need to over react for any stand alone decision. IMO, Smith should not be blamed.

  • Bryan on January 16, 2010, 22:09 GMT

    In the early days of cricket, the umpire was there to adjudicate on decisions where the batsman was uncertain - such as lbw. Smith says he does not believe he hit the ball. The umpire did not believe he did and gave him not out. The 3rd umpire did nopt believe he did and confirmed the decision. Did he hit it? I do not know but the decision was made. In cricket there are good decisions and bad decisions. That's the game. Live with it. Everybody else does so get over it England. Your whining and whingeing spoil the game.

  • . on January 16, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    Your game is what matters for you to win a match, not a bad review decision even though it wasn't. Not a fault of the umpire, the use and understanding of the technology is to be blamed cause this UDRS thing is still a little baby. Thirdly, fault of the admins they didn't use the best technology in use i've seen, the hotspot, merely for cost reasons whereas they are being used in Aus. ICC should, if they want to continue with this UDRS, should make such rules so that more perfect and same technology is being used in each test match. Now for some reasons if the poor WI or ZIM say they cant use Hawkeye, where would UDRS go? Frankly speaking, i really doubt the authenticity of the hawkeye when it comes to the height of the ball after pitching. Some times back i remember, i saw Harbhajan bowled some batsman with the ball just clipping the bails but hawkeye showed the ball positioned an inch above, not even touching. Though a marginal mistake, technology is expected to be perfect.

  • sajjo on January 16, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    why do england complain about everything? when they played west indies in january, we had 3 lbw decisions given against us in one innings, all of which were clearly not out. when the batsmen referred them, replays proved this, yet the 3rd umpire did not overule the decisions. england get everything in their favour, and yet when one thing goes against them they make such a big deal about it! they have got to be the biggest cry babies in cricket.

  • Ambrose on January 16, 2010, 12:37 GMT

    I can understand that a wrong decision can be made but i still dont understand what all the anger is about. It seems that when a test match is being played between supposedely "better test playing nations" then these things become magnified and overexaggerated. We have seen this happen countless times in tests and ODI's between "lesser" nations and the game just continues. I have seen Strauss involved in such situations and been given not out. I think that the only 2 technologies that should be used for catches behind the wicket are the replays in real time and snicko as the hotspot is sometimes or most times for these types of catches inconclusive.

  • ashutosh on January 16, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    That's just stupid of Harper... If everyone else heard it, I am sure Harper is at fault... It is time the ICC asked the umpires to get professional too... How about a fee cut for them too... A 3rd umpire just cannot commit such blunders; he has all the time and reviews available... And this is not the 1st time umpires are being panned... I feel the umpires are relaxing a bit...

    @Geebs: Harper had reviews available so there is no reason why he shudn't be panned.. The whole point of reviews is not to let a wrong decision chang the fate of the match as it happened in days before snicko..

    @rustigboer: Smith wanted a runner because he was tired, not out of injury... So how was Strauss wrong there?? Strauss in fact called back a Lankan batsman who got run-out, running in to the bowler... (I am an Indian, not a Brit)

  • Sandeep on January 16, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    Now what? new technology. better decisions. No matter how much new technology they bring in, this is going to be the same case. For gods sake the administrators are just spineless. Cricket has turned from a wonderful game where no one cared about winning or losing but instead for just the satisfaction of watching how it mirrors real life. How things go against or for each other, acts of bravery grit even against tough luck. Ever since the rankings came, people only care about winning or losing as per the strict rules and regulations or laws. No more will we see the game as it was then. It has become increasingly boring and tedious to watch this ungentlemanly game anymore, but instead to look at the scorecard and feel false pride.

  • param on January 16, 2010, 8:25 GMT

    well, in aus vs pak match, on day 2, it seemed clarke had got an underedge which was given not out and reviewed and hotspot showed no nick . So , it can sometimes be difficult to decide for sure if its the bat slashing the air or the bat hitting the ball. This happened twice to clarke and both times there was a clear audible noise as the ball passedthe bat. in all honesty , wout hotspot and snicko , it can be very very difficult to overturn the on field umpires decision. in case of smith, i definitely felt he had nicked it, he looked behind immediately and that can often be an indicating factor. even with hotspot, it can be very difficult to give an "out" decision "not out". but to give a "not out" , out is easier, since all we really need is one spot on the bat.

  • Graeme on January 16, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    There's many simple and uneducated comments here from arm-chair experts. Surely with the technology available today every Test match should be kitted out with the lot. However, given it wasn't available here then why jump on the poor Umpire when it was the Enland management who 'misleadingly told the Press that they had been advised that Umpire Harper did not turn up the volume on his mike (speaker, you idiot Flower). What rubbish! The 3rd Umpire is provided the tools and he uses them accordingly. If the ICC and the broadcaster agree on settings then what right does an Umpire have to 'fiddle' with the technology. Grow up you morons and get on with the game. What happened in the days before snicko and such ... the on-field Umpire's decision would have stood.

  • No featured comments at the moment.