England to make official complaint
Coach Andy Flower has confirmed England will make an official complaint over the handling of the decision concerning Graeme Smith's review during the morning session on the second day of the fourth Test against South Africa.
The home captain had made 15 when he was the subject of a vociferous appeal for caught behind having flashed a full-blooded cut at a Ryan Sidebottom delivery into the hands of Matt Prior.
After being given not out by on field umpire Tony Hill, the decision was then upheld on review after third umpire Daryl Harper chose not to overrule despite a clear noise being heard on the stump microphone.
Flower subsequently confirmed he was told by match referee Roshan Mahanama that Harper had not turned the volume up on his host broadcasters’ audio/video feed to detect a noise which might have indicated Smith had edged the ball.
England were convinced they did hear an incriminating sound, but Smith survived the decision review system appeal and went on to make 105 out of 215 for two.
Asked whether England intend to make an official complaint over the handling of the decision, Flower said: “Yes we will.”
“I have seen the referee twice. I first asked for clarification on the process and he explained that match referee gets a different audio feed to (broadcasters) Sky and Supersport.
“We found out that wasn’t correct and one audio feed is used for everyone and the second time he said that Daryl Harper had not switched up the volume on his mic, and that is why we have heard the nick but the third umpire hasn’t.”
Flower admitted the apparently comical sequence of events would indeed have been funny, if the stakes had not been so high at such a telling stage of an epic series.
“If it wasn’t such a serious match for us I would have found it amusing,” he said.
“I think it’s very disappointing. They said they did not deem it necessary to turn up the volume.”
Flower is not yet a full convert to the International Cricket Council’s decision review system (DRS) - and his latest experience is hardly likely to help him change his mind.
“There are a couple of things we find illogical,” he said.
“Number one is that we don’t use it for no-balls and there have been a couple of incidents when Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Smith have been out to no-balls in this series.
“Number two is that Dave Richardson (ICC cricket manager) and Roshan Mahanama before the series explained to us in the absence of a ’snickometer’ or ’hotspot’, they would use an increased volume on stump mic for catches behind - they would turn up the volume for referrals - and we find it very disappointing they deemed this unnecessary.”
Flower has no doubt Smith should have been given out this morning.
“I have seen it, and it is very clearly an edge,” he said.
“It was a very important time at the start of the day when we needed early wickets and he is a big wicket.
“He has played well this series. It could have been crucial - we don’t know what would have happened if he had been out.
“Of course, mistakes happen - we all make them - but when there is little logical reason for it then that is frustrating.”
Smith himself conceded even he heard a sound as the ball passed his bat, but insisted he simply did not feel as if he had hit it.
“There definitely was a noise,” he said.
“But I didn’t feel I’d touched the ball, even talking to (non-striker) Ashwell (Prince) as the review was going on I didn’t feel the ball hit the bat.
“That can happen. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.”
Smith is struggling to come up with any other explanation but made it clear he has been true to himself.
He added: “I thought it was my thumb on the bat handle.”
Smith has no interest in guessing what may or may not have happened in the third umpire’s room.
“We all knew what technology was available going into the series - that was explained openly and honestly by Dave Richardson - so to be crying over spilt milk now isn’t right.”
Smith is hoping his second successive hundred against England finally sets up a winning position for his team.
“It’s been a tough month - having lost a family member (his grandfather died recently) - and things haven’t gone as we would have liked.
“We’ve played good cricket but have just lacked the knockout punches.”