Umpires controversially abandoned the one day international between Australia and Sri Lanka on Sunday, stating the outfield was too wet and not safe for players.
Sri Lanka only faced 3.2 overs in their bid to chase down Australia’s total of 9/223 and ultimately claim the series.
But light, persistent drizzle started and continued for more than an hour. Then at about 8:15pm, the drizzle was blown away and play was expected to start in 20 minutes’ time.
With the rope going across deep in the outfield and no rain about anymore, it looked as though play was certain to resume very shortly. But the umpires continued to stall, check the outfield near the boundary ropes and after 9pm the match was abandoned.
It not only robbed Sri Lanka a the chance to win the series with a game to spare but it also robbed Australia a chance of trying to bowl out Sri Lanka and level the series, despite the odds stacked heavily against them.
Rain had not been seen for about 45 minutes and play should’ve resumed as the playing pitch was perfectly fine. The crowd and even Channel Nine commentators weren’t too satisfied with the decision, with constant booing echoing around the ground when the message was brought up on the big screen.
It was an end to what had been a tough day for umpires Paul Reiffel and Marais Erasmus, who made two howlers during the Australian innings.
David Warner was first to cop it when he was given out lbw, but replays clearly showed he got a massive inside edge to the ball. Unable to review it because captain Michael Clarke earlier used up the one and only unsuccessful decision review (DRS) allowed in ODI’s now, he had to go. That decision was made by Erasmus.
Then Moises Henriques, who is still trying to cement his spot in the side, was given out lbw as well. This time Reiffel raised his finger but, like Warner, Henriques clearly got an inside edge onto his pad.
Both batmen showed their disappointed and anger while walking from the field.
With the two shockers made unable to be reversed by DRS, Channel Nine commentator Mark Taylor suggested a change to the system.
He stated DRS should be taken out of the players’ hands and put into the third umpire’s. If a shocking decision like Warner’s and Henriques’ is made, the third umpire can intervene immediately, have a look at the replay and tell the on-field umpire that he has got it wrong, therefore reversing the decision.
Something like this was trialled during the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy, where if an umpire thought an lbw decision was close but wasn’t sure, he would go to the third umpire to have a look at it. However this was deemed unsuccessful, as umpires became far too conservative and referred almost every lbw chance.
Mark Taylor makes a valid point that if a close lbw is given out, then referred by the player – in this case Michael Clarke – and still stays out, it won’t be able to fully eliminate future errors and that is what the DRS was brought in for; to stop howlers like the ones which dismissed Warner and Henriques.
If the ICC can look into and possibly trial this, it could even change the Indian Cricket Board’s thoughts about the DRS.
During the first Test last season, both Michael Hussey and Ed Cowan were given out caught behind when hotspot showed they clearly didn’t edge the ball. Mark Taylor also mentioned that decisions like this can end a player’s career or send them into exile.
Henriques, who was out at the Gabba to a beauty of a delivery from Nuwan Kulasekara and then shockingly given out at the SCG, is still trying to establish himself in the Australian side. He could face being dropped for the fifth ODI in Hobart for his failure to trouble the scorers because of a poor umpire’s decision.
Last season Michael Hussey came into the summer under enormous pressure to hold his spot and was given out first ball, when replays showed the ball was nowhere near his gloves. It could’ve ended his career prematurely had he not gone on to score 89 and 150* in his next two innings.
Mark Taylor’s suggestion of taking DRS out of the players’ hands and placing it into the third umpire’s could be a possibility in the not too distant future.
The fifth and final ODI will be played in Hobart on Wednesday, where the best possible chance Australia can hope for is a drawn series if they win the match.
Both teams will take positives into the match, with the Sri Lankan bowlers in seriously good form as well as Aussies David Warner, Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc, who all played significant roles in getting Australia to a competitive total.