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ECB's Giles Clarke says referral system is 'a shambles'

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Cricket's core principles being destroyed - Clarke

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke has described the governing body's implementation of the decision review system as "a shambles".

"We're better off with the old system. If the umpire is as blind as a bat," he said, before the International Cricket Council opted to review its procedures.

The criticism follows Daryl Harper's umpiring on the second day of the final Test between South Africa and England.

Harper had problems with the technology after a England referred a decision.

On referral of a caught behind involving South Africa captain Graeme Smith, Harper said he could not hear a noise even though a noise was audible on replays.

England claimed third umpire Harper had failed to turn up the speaker volume when they referred the decision and said they were seeking to have the lost referral reinstated.

But with South Africa's first innings over, that option looks unlikely.

However, the ICC said Harper "followed correct protocol" and the third umpire's Facebook page was reported to have blamed the broadcaster, claiming he was being made a "scapegoat".

Graeme Smith dismissal fiasco frustrates Andy Flower

An unimpressed Clarke told BBC's Test Match Special: "The shambles of the last days' implementation of the DRS, and the previous implementation shows there is much to be done.

"We were told it was not possible to have Hot Spot or the snickometer - so that leaves the problem of how do you deal with the extreme difficulty of determining edges?

"We were told that the stump microphone would be turned up, and the third umpire would be actively encouraged to give the batsman out if there is a noise and the bat is well away from body, even if no deflection can be seen.

"The concern we have is that the microphone was supposed to be turned up.

"It is our view that it is perfectly reasonable and within the regulations that the ICC match referee reinstate the referral, and we have requested that."

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.

Clarke added: "The issue is that we have been punished twice. We lost a referral on a matter we shouldn't have lost on, and this prevented further referrals as we had one less available.

"What we are doing is destroying the authority of our umpires - at the speed of light.

"It attacks the root of cricket, that the umpire's decision is final. If you are giving them technology and it is not used, how can you say it is final?

"The idea of the referral system was to deter excessive appealing, which has been a problem for the game. It worked in Cape Town but here, where the technology was meant to assist, it is destroying the umpires."

606: DEBATE
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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.

Sidebottom calls for referral testing

"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 facing heavy Test defeat
16 Jan 10 |  England
ICC to probe referral procedures
16 Jan 10 |  Cricket
England slam referral 'shambles'
16 Jan 10 |  England
England to lodge umpire complaint
15 Jan 10 |  England
Reprieved Smith makes England pay
15 Jan 10 |  England
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England


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