Cricket Council To Investigate Decision-Review System at Test Match

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has pledged to hold a “full and comprehensive investigation” into the decision-review system (DRS) and technology used during a controversial fourth and final Test between South Africa and England in Johannesburg Jan. 15, which was won by the hosts and leveled the series.

England captain Andrew Strauss admitted that his team was not good enough, but there was frustration that the third official in charge of the DRS upheld the not-out decision by the on-field umpire when South Africa captain Graeme Smith was caught behind, even though the television and radio Snickometer mics clearly picked up contact between ball and bat.

Video umpire Daryl Harper confirmed the not-out decision of his on-pitch colleague Tony Hill, based on not hearing any sound from the ball’s touching Smith’s bat, despite a “nick” being heard on replays broadcast by Sky TV. A major row erupted after suggestions, reported in the UK national press, that Harper did not have the volume turned up at his monitoring position.

The argument was exacerbated by match referee Roshan Mahanama’s telling England coach Andy Flower that the third umpire worked with a different audio feed from those used by radio and TV broadcasters, which is not the case.

Mahanama later clarified his position in a statement: “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 the umpire’s decision is final.

There have also been suggestions in a section of the press that Mr. Harper had turned down the feed volume,” he continued. “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 [South Africa Broadcasting Corp., the host broadcaster] head engineer and the ICC technical adviser. At no stage [did] I indicate to the England team management that the third umpire had forgotten to adjust the volume of the speakers. 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.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) demanded that the review be reinstated, but the match was concluded without this being done. When the not-out decision was referred, Smith was on 15 and went on to score 105. South Africa won the match by an innings and 74 runs, so, even if Smith had been given out, the outcome was unlikely to have been  much different.

ECB Chairman Giles Clarke said he had “grave concerns” over the DRS process as used in Johannesburg and would raise the matter “at the highest level” with the ICC. ICC  Chief Executive  Haroon Lorgat confirmed that a letter of complaint had been received from the ECB and an investigation would be launched into “issues involving technology and the DRS as applied during the fourth Test between South Africa and England.”

Lorgat added, “There is a large amount of controversy, speculation, and potentially unfair criticism circulating at present, so it is important to establish the exact facts before reaching any final conclusions. This is early days for the DRS, and so far we are pleased with its effectiveness and the value it can add to the game in support of umpires. However, we have always acknowledged there is room for further improvement in the available technology, and this investigation will be conducted in that light so the system becomes even more reliable.”

The ICC carried out tests on the DRS during last year and officially introduced it for Test matches just over a month ago during the series between New Zealand and Pakistan.

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