Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day December 14, 2013

England baffled by Root's DRS dismissal


England were left mystified by a third-umpire call that sent Joe Root on his way on the second day at the WACA, but the decision appeared to have been in line with the pre-series instructions to the umpires. The officials were told before the Ashes that sounds detected on the new Real-Time Snickometer could still be an edge even if they appeared to come after the ball had passed the bat, which may have led Tony Hill to uphold the caught-behind decision against Root.

Root was given out by the on-field umpire Marais Erasmus when the Australians appealed for an edge behind off the bowling of Shane Watson and Root immediately asked for a review, shaking his head as if to tell his partner he had not touched the ball. Although there was no Hot Spot on the bat, there was a small noise that registered on the Real-Time Snicko; there was confusion because the sound seemed to show up immediately after the ball had passed the edge.

Hill, the third umpire, upheld the out decision, which left Root flummoxed as he walked off the field, but the outcome seemed to have been in line with a pre-series briefing by the ICC's general manager of cricket Geoff Allardice. In the lead-up to the Gabba Test, Allardice told reporters that where sound showed up on Snicko in the camera frame after the ball had passed the bat, it could still be an edge.

"One of the important things to remember is it's a qualification tool for the umpire about when there is a sound," Allardice said at the time. "He's got to say 'could it have been anything else, was it at the right time'. So one of the things they'll be looking for, the frame immediately after the ball's passed the bat, and if there's a corresponding sound then it says he could have hit the ball. He'll look at the pictures and he'll see is there a gap between bat and ball, could it have been something else and then make a judgement.

"It's more conclusive if there's no sound, if the batsman's out there waving and there's nothing as the ball passes the bat, and there's something a few frames later, that's the situation where he might say 'he's dragged his foot' or something like that."

Third umpires must see or hear clear evidence in order to overturn the decision of the on-field official, and the possibility that the noise had been an edge appeared to lead Hill to err on the side of Erasmus. Root clearly believed he had not hit the ball, but the same could be said of the Australian batsman Steven Smith, who shook his head as he walked off on the second morning after a noise on the Real-Time Snicko convinced Hill to overturn an on-field not-out decision.

"It was a disappointing dismissal for us, and a key dismissal for us," the England batsman Michael Carberry said of Root's caught-behind. "He obviously felt he didn't hit the ball, so he reviewed it. What the decision made by the third umpire was, I'm not fully aware of because I wasn't there. But obviously we were bitterly disappointed ... We were of the opinion he didn't hit it, hence we reviewed it ... the decision [is] made by the third umpire, we don't control that, so it's one of those things we have to swallow I'm afraid."

Real-Time Snicko is being tested in this Ashes series for the first time as part of the third umpire's DRS technologies after the ICC monitored the tool during the English summer and felt it could be used in conjunction with Hot Spot. The ICC's umpire performance and training manager, Simon Taufel, briefed both the England and Australia teams on the new technology before the series, including on the interpretations that would be used by umpires.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mick on December 17, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    DRS is not rubbish only the humans using it. There must be an assumption that DRS can overturn as decision if there is no evidence to support the decision and if there is a high probability the decision was wrong. In this case hot-spot failed to confirm an edge, only bat brushing the pad. Snicko confirmed something hit something at some time, seemingly after the ball had already passed the bat. Lack of a snicko would be strong evidence he was not out. Otherwise proves nothing much. There was no evidence to suggest that Root had hit it. Lack of a hot spot should have overturned the decision. We have to assume that hot spot works most of the time. Surely this is all common sense? Snicko did not prove he hit it. Root deserves the benefit of very overwhelming doubt. The 3rd umpire needs to have a strong guide of rules to how a dismissal can be proved, or where returns to umpire decision only when DRS views were inconclusive/obstructed.

  • Edwin on December 15, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    On field Umpire makes a mistake and if one of the team challenges / uses their referral option, the 3rd Umpire needs substantial evidence to over turn Field Umpire's initial decision. This will rule out mistakes committed by the on field Umpire. If the 3rd Umpire is unable to find substantial evidence to over turn the decision made by the on Field Umpire, the initial decision will stay and for me that is the way to go forward minimizing human error. ICC should decide what the process should be instead of asking it's members to decide. India / BCCI is bullying or not is not the point here. Yes they are Cash rich and want everyone to follow what they ( BCCI )put forward, which is just not Sport but commercialization of the Game. I hope BCCI and ICC will get this sorted out for the benefit of everyone.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    I think it's high time DRS is touted to be what it really is. The way it is currently implemented it is clearly not a tool to make the right decision. It is a tool to avoid the howlers. It's as simple as that. And it's not necessarily a bad thing. The more we keep insisting it's a tool to "help the umpires make the right decisions" or the tool "to aid in decision making", such criticisms would continue to surface; and very valid criticisms at that. The quicker ICC admits the tool is JUST to avoid the howlers, the better. One line to describe how DRS is used currently is that it is used to overturn an on-field umpire's decision ONLY when the 3rd umpire is SURE it was the wrong decision.

  • Graham on December 15, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    Gupta.Ankur In India it would be still out but here with the Drs England were able to change the Smith decision so I don't get your point. So 1 less incorrect decision then what would have been in India which is an immediate benefit. Yes the technology can be inconclusive so you stay with the umpires decision, and lose nothing by having a,DRS system. That is what happened here, I still don't know whether he hit it or not so stay with the umpire. As such the Drs is improving cricket if interpreted in the correct way as it has here.

  • Naresh on December 15, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    This is only going to make India question the system more. The sound could have been bat hitting pad, anything. The replays showed a gap between ball and bat? A decision in this instance can influence the game.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2013, 8:28 GMT

    I think the third umpire did the right thing. When the evidence is not clear, just go with the on-field umpire's decision.

  • ankur on December 15, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    People are now finally realizing what the indians have been saying since the inception of DRS.

    Many saw it as bullying by the BCCI, but the fact is DRS is in-consistent and un-reliable and does not give definite answers unless it's a howler by the umpire and its very obvious.

    I also don't see ICC asking it's umpires and people behind the DRS technology to improve its accuracy and proper utilization by the umpires.

    In it's current form , DRS is only there to avoild howlers and nothing else.

  • Cameron on December 15, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    He nicked it, nothing using DRS says he didn't so the law is to go back to the onfield umpires original decision which was that he nicked it. It was a genuine appeal from the Aussies. Anyway dies it really matter, we've outscored England by nearly 800 runs so far this series with plenty more to come.

  • suhail on December 15, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    There is only one solution. DRS is rubbish. Just get rid of it and get back to the way cricket should be played.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2013, 6:07 GMT

    I have a serious question about this 'real-time' snicko. Wonder if anyone can answer it.

    Is it being used live for every ball?

    If you watch this delivery with live audio, you can def hear a noise after the ball has past the bat. This 'clicking' noise occurs not only after the ball has past bat, but also after it has past the stumps as well.

    Is this 'real time' snicko? It sounds like an edge. But the strange this is: the 3rd umpire wasn't listening to this sound in his review, as the shots we were given had the ball just about to go past Root's rear leg.