Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 1st day December 9, 2007

Vaughan critical of Pietersen decision

Cricinfo staff



Kevin Pietersen watches the big screen after being given out caught in the slips © AFP

Michael Vaughan says the third umpire should have been consulted over the controversial catch that ended Kevin Pietersen's innings on the opening day of the second Test in Colombo.

Pietersen edged his fifth delivery low to slip where Chamara Silva dived to his left and parried the ball up behind him allowing Kumar Sangakkara to hold the rebound. There was no doubt about Sangakkara's catch, but the problems arose around Silva's initial take with replays showing the ball may have been grounded.

When the catch was completed Pietersen stood his ground as Daryl Harper and Aleem Dar, the umpires, conferred before Harper, at the bowler's end, gave the decision. Pietersen was halfway off the field when he saw the dismissal on the big screen and halted, but the decision couldn't be overturned.

"I just think common sense has to prevail in those instances when you're not 100% sure," said Vaughan. "The technology's available and you really should use it. It's disappointing and I think the replays have proven it did touch the ground, but let's move on. We're five-down and we've got to get as many runs as possible tomorrow to put them under pressure."

Pietersen was involved in a similar incident earlier this year during the opening Test against India at Lord's. On that occasion he edged Zaheer Khan low to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who claimed the catch, and Pietersen was given out. However, when the replay came up on the big screen Pietersen waited as the square-leg umpire intervened. The decision was overturned and Pietersen continued his innings.

"We had a similar instance of that at Lord's when Kevin was given out, they saw the screen and they [the umpires] changed their opinion," added Vaughan. "It always seems to be Kev out there. Common sense should have prevailed and I'm sure the umpires will feel exactly that way now."

The difference between the two incidents is that at Lord's there wasn't an original agreement between the umpires on Dhoni's catch, it was given immediately by Simon Taufel. However, in Colombo the umpires conferred before deciding Pietersen was out and the laws state that the third official can only be used if the view of the on-field umpires is obstructed.

What is more, criticism has been levelled at the manner in which Pietersen stood his ground, and then even began making his way back to the crease in clear dispute with the umpire's decision. "It doesn't look good, but what would you do?" said Vaughan. "We're talking about high-level sport here. The guy was given out but he says he clearly saw the ball touch the ground, and I guess he's been proven correct. The non-striker thought it had to, and they are within their rights to ask. The technology's there to make sure, so why not use it?"

It was not the only rough decision that derailed England's progress. The mainstay of their innings, Alastair Cook, was given out lbw late in the day for 81, despite replays showing that Lasith Malinga's delivery would have missed the stumps. Vaughan, however, felt that decision was an entirely separate issue, because there is no provision for lbws to be referred to the third umpire. "Those decisions happen, and I don't have any problem with them," he said. "What I'm saying is let common sense prevail, if the technology's there to use. It's pretty simple."

Sri Lanka's coach, Trevor Bayliss, admitted that his side might have got lucky with the decision, but believed that such things even themselves out over time. "In cricket that's the way it goes," he said. "By the eye the umpire gave it out, but if it [had gone] to the TV, it's probably one of those dismissals that's not out. It was too close to tell. But everyone gets luck - the good players are those who take advantage of their luck.

"It's not as if it's a real clear picture," said Bayliss. "Chamara was adamant he got a hard hit on the fingers, and from his point of view that whack left his fingers squashed between the ground and the ball. On the replays there's obviously a little bit of grass involved, but does that mean it's five or six pieces of grass? The umpire gave it out, and he thought it was out."

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