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ICC defends Daryl Harper over TV umpiring row

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Smith dismissal fiasco frustrates Flower

Cricket's governing body has defended Daryl Harper's umpiring in the final Test between South Africa and England.

England alleged third umpire Harper failed to turn up the speaker volume when they referred a caught behind appeal against Graeme Smith on day two.

A noise was audible on replays but Harper said he could not hear it.

The International Cricket Council said Harper "followed correct protocol", while England said they were seeking to have the lost referral reinstated.

A statement by England and Wales Cricket Board read: "The ECB accepts that the decision must remain concerning the dismissal but has issued a formal appeal following play on day two and contends that the lost referral must be reinstated.

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"The ECB has sought further clarification from ICC that there is nothing in the regulations to prevent the ICC chief executive and/or match referee from re-instating the referral to correct the gross error in process."

ECB chairman Giles Clarke said: "We have grave concerns about how this process was implemented and I will be addressing the issue at the highest levels within ICC during this match."

The ramifications of Friday's referral decision continued to haunt England just before lunch on Saturday when AB de Villiers appeared to edge a ball from Ryan Sidebottom to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Having used up their quota of two unsuccessful referrals per innings, captain Andrew Strauss was unable to contest the decision.

Following the incident, an official investigation was conducted in conjunction with Sri Lankan match referee Roshan Mahanama, when it was discovered that Harper had his speaker turned up to level four out of 10.

But in an ICC statement, Mahanama said: "As he did not hear any noise to indicate the ball hitting the bat, he recommended (on-field umpire) Mr (Tony) Hill to uphold his earlier decision.

"It must be noted that 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.

"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 African Broadcasting Corporation) head engineer and the ICC technical advisor."

Smith went on to make 105 on Friday as South Africa closed on 215-2, a lead of 35 in a match they have to win to level the series and retain the Basil D'Oliveira trophy.

Having been dismissed for 180 after choosing to bat first, England were desperate for an early breakthrough, with Smith - who hit 183 in the second innings of the third Test - a prize scalp.

Smith stands firm over umpire decision

And they were confident they had their man when the South African skipper appeared to edge a wide delivery outside off stump from Sidebottom into the gloves of Prior in the fourth over of the morning session.

The wicketkeeper, slips cordon and the bowler all appealed in unison, but on-field umpire Tony Hill remained unmoved, prompting England to refer the decision to Harper.

Although a noise was clearly heard on television replays, the Australian official said he could not hear anything decisive and concurred with Hills's original not out decision, sparking dismay among England's players.

"It is also worthwhile to mention that at no stage had I indicated to the England team management that the third umpire had forgotten to adjust the volume of the speakers," added Mahanama.

"I had actually briefed the England team management of the protocols that were followed during this review.

"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."

Despite being dismayed by Harper's decision to reprieve South Africa centurion Smith, England coach Andy Flower said he retained faith in the decision review system.

"I quite like the idea of reducing the shocking decisions and if that happens perhaps referrals are the right way to go," he said. "But on incidents like this it does not reflect well on the ICC.

To be crying over spilt milk now is not right

South Africa captain Graeme Smith

Technological advances such as 'Snickometer' and 'hot spot', which are much more effective at breaking down caught behind decisions, are not in use for the series because host broadcaster SABC deemed the tools too expensive.

The first day of the crucial final Test was mired in controversy when opener Alastair Cook was given out lbw following a referral to a Morne Morkel delivery which England believed should have been called a no-ball.

"We didn't make a big issue about that, we thought we would bite our lips and get on with the game," added Flower. "But this incident is a step too far."

Smith confessed there had been a noise, but said he thought it had hit his thumb on the handle.

"It's not my job to discuss what the third umpire heard," he said. We all knew what technology was available in this series, so to be crying over spilt milk now is not right."



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see also
England to lodge umpire complaint
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Reprieved Smith makes England pay
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South Africa v England day two photos
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Ask Michael Vaughan
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England in tatters after collapse
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We were below par - Collingwood
14 Jan 10 |  England
England escape in thrilling draw
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Michael Vaughan Q&A
31 Dec 09 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England


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