Controversy all round at the SCG

Brian Zhang Roar Rookie

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    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.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 11:24am
      Prak said | January 22nd 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

      Though the DRS was brought to stop the howlers, players are using it for more and more marginal calls. It was D. Warner’s call that encouraged Clarke to use up the 1 review. I wonder would he have been so insistent if for example Starc had been sent in as a pinch hitter and had the same decision against him that Clarke had got.

      The players only have themselves to blame in this instance, ie Clarke using his captain’s pregoative, and Warner. The only person that it hurt most was Henriques who was not involved in it.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 11:44am
      Christo the Daddyo said | January 22nd 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      While I was originally supportive of players being allowed two referrals per innings (and only one in ODIs), I am starting to come around the idea that the responsibility should sit solely with the umpires. In these cases, the 3rd umpire would have taken all of five seconds to realise a mistake had been made, and get a message to the on-field umpires to reverse the decision.

      It was telling that these decisions were such howlers that even the on-field umpires realised they had made mistakes – and they were simply watching the video scoreboard! And actually that’s just prompted a thought – could they not have recalled the batsmen themselves? Do they have that power?

      • January 22nd 2013 @ 12:28pm
        The Dish said | January 22nd 2013 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

        I was the same as you on this one. I guess the trick with the umpires having control is communicating the reviews well to the audience and crowd. The system they trialled in domestic cricket was very confusing in the crowd as you had no idea what was going on.

        On the umpires recalling Warner and Henriques, would it have not been out of the question for Sri Lanka to withdraw the appeal once they knew it wasn’t out? I’ve seen a batsman recalled by an opposition captain in a club game once they realised there was an edge involved in an LBW. Although I guess Sri Lanka were well within their rights not to, especially given that Australia had a review and chose to waste it.

      • January 22nd 2013 @ 1:23pm
        Matt F said | January 22nd 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        The problem there is that, unlike the two from Sunday, most incorrect decisions aren’t obvious within 5 seconds. These ones were but a much fainter edge (or an LBW given not out when it should have been) will take longer, as would catches from fine edges.

        For some decisions, by the time we’ve gone through hotspot and hawkeye it’s been a lot longer than 5 seconds. You might be able to get away with it if a batsman was given out as it takes time for a batsmen to leave the field, the new batsman to come out and the next ball to be bowled however what happens if the opposite happens? What do you do if a batsman was given not out when he should have been given out? What if, instead of being given out LBW from an inside edge, Henriques was given not out when he got a faint edge? By the time the third umpire has a chance to look at the replays and hotspot the next ball would have almost certainly been bowled, particularly if it’s a spinner on at the time

        • January 22nd 2013 @ 6:03pm
          Christo the Daddyo said | January 22nd 2013 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

          Not necessarily. Remember that DRS is designed to combat howlers, not 50/50s. So if the 3rd umpire can’t see any obvious problem straight away there should be no change to the original decision.

          • January 22nd 2013 @ 7:36pm
            Matt F said | January 22nd 2013 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

            Maybe, though the idea that the third umpire can only overturn a decision if he’s quick enough before the next ball is bowled (given that could be any amount of time) seems a bit arbitrary. You still don’t solve the incorrect decisions being made because, as you said, 50/50’s won’t get caught so it doesn’t seem significantly different to what we have now. This could also lead to bowlers and batsmen arguing with the umpire in a deliberate attempt to stall for time so that the third umpire can have a look which is probably going to be a much worse look that the captain or batsman making a T signal. I still maintain that the current system is fine, we simply took a foolish gamble on Clarke and lost.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 12:37pm
      Jason said | January 22nd 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

      I reckon the DRS is mostly fine. It is the players who are rubbish at using it.

      If the batsman has to ask his partner whether or not to review it then he probably shouldn’t.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 9:04pm
      Jay said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:04pm | ! Report

      This suggestion was implemented in a very similar fashion in the Ryobi cup games this year. It was farcical. For some of the reasons mentioned in other comments (namely, not outs not having time to be reviewed quickly and the calling back of players walking off).

      The DRS is not broken – the way players are using the system is. Remember, if Clarke didn’t review, they would’ve had the review still.

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 2:43am
      Rowdy said | January 23rd 2013 @ 2:43am | ! Report

      I’m not sure if seeing everything replayed endlessly in super slo-mo at the ground will do much to bolster confidence in the umpires. Maybe the grounds shouldn’t show replays for LBWs and caught behinds.

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