South Africa v England, 4th Test, Johannesburg, 2nd day January 16, 2010

Mahanama backs Harper in controversial decision

Cricinfo staff

Roshan Mahanama, the ICC match referee, has insisted that Daryl Harper did everything right when he controversially ruled Graeme Smith not out to a reviewed caught behind appeal on the second day against England at the Wanderers which led to the visitors to lodge a complaint with ICC.

Smith was on 15 when he slashed at Ryan Sidebottom and England were convinced they heard an edge. Tony Hill, the on-field official, turned down the appeal and Andrew Strauss asked for a review. Harper upheld Hill's decision because he could not hear a sound on the replay, but it later emerged that he had not increased the volume setting on his monitor. This incensed Andy Flower, the England coach, but Mahanama said the right protocols were followed.

"During the review, the TV umpire followed the correct protocol and as he did not hear any noise to indicate the ball hitting the bat, he recommended Mr Hill to uphold his earlier decision. It must be noted that umpire's decision is final," Mahanama said.

"There have also been suggestions in a section of the press that Mr Harper had turned down the feed volume. It is clarified that the volume on the third umpire's feed, right throughout the series, had been configured to optimise the quality of the audio, by both an SABC Head Engineer and the ICC technical advisor."

Contrary to what Flower told the media on the second evening, Mahanama said that he had had not told the England management that Harper had forgotten to increase the volume of the replay. "It is also worthwhile to mention here that at no stage I indicated to the England team management that the third umpire had forgotten to adjust the volume of the speakers. I had actually briefed the England team management of the protocols that were followed during this review.

"If the audio level had been increased above its optimum level, distortion on the audio feed would have occurred and the feed might not have given a clear indication of the true sound."

"It should be kept in mind that the TV umpires sometimes receive feeds which are at a different level to what others are receiving," Mahanama added, "for the simple fact that various broadcasters at times use different technologies while televising a match and Johannesburg Test is a case in point.

"In the end, it must be remembered that there needs to be conclusive evidence to over-turn the decision of the on-field umpire as the Decision Review System has been designed to eliminate the obvious umpiring errors."