It’s fair to say the umpiring throughout the Ashes series hasn’t been great, but it sunk to an extraordinary new low on the final day in Manchester.
With the Aussies pushing towards victory and desperate to remove tail-ender Craig Overton, they thought they’d made the breakthrough when he was given out lbw.
Overton referred the decision to DRS, which clearly showed the ball cannoning off his inside edge onto his front pad.
However ‘UltraEdge’ wasn’t particularly conclusive given how close the bat was to the pad, and third umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge was seemingly unwilling to trust his own eyes.
Slow-mo replays clearly showed the ball travelling from bat to pad, but Palliyaguruge inexplicably sent the review to ball-tracking.
Luckily for Overton the ball struck him outside the line of off stump, narrowly avoiding what would have been the biggest DRS howler in recent memory.
“A classic example there of an umpire and official over-reliant on technology, just use your eyes, nearly everyone in the ground could see that on the big screen hit the inside edge,” former England captain Nasser Hussain said in commentary.
“Don’t worry about UltraEdge, don’t worry about the technology. Just use your eyes.”
Joe Root and Ben Stokes were spotted shaking their heads in disbelief in the dressing room, and fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing either.
This has absolutely nothing going for it to begin with and then the third umpire makes this absolutely farcical. Umpiring in this series has been a joke. https://t.co/4PgbKZLG0c— Samuel (@smunday87) September 8, 2019
Right decision in the end, but how the hell can the third umpire not see that Overton’s smashed that into his pad?! #Ashes— James Findlater (@JamieFin_) September 8, 2019
Third umpire has been rescued by ball tracking there. Absolute shocker to take inconclusive snicko over video footage of Overton middling it #Ashes— Dave Clark (@daveclark1984) September 8, 2019
Seriouslyyyyy that wasn’t conclusive enough to overturn the on field call!!? 🧐🧐🧐🧐 #Ashes2019— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) September 8, 2019
Regardless of ball tracking, how that wasn’t overturned on account of Overton middling it, I don’t know. #Ashes— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) September 8, 2019
How can an umpire and third umpire with super slow mo not see Overton’s hit that!? 🙈 #TheAshes— Matt Cullen (@McCullen7) September 8, 2019
The 3rd umpire for that Overton review is an embarrassment! That ball cannoned off of the bat into the pad. Stop relying on ultra edge and use your eyes. He’s lucky it pitched outside and saved his bacon. The umpires in this series have been woeful. #bbccricket— Chris Smith (@cjlsmith87) September 8, 2019
What a joke the umpiring in this ashes has been disgraceful from start to finish, the amount of reviews and over turns have been worrying.— ★★ Rodders★★ (@markalibone) September 8, 2019
Aussies retain the urn
The darkest hour came just before an Ashes dawn at Old Trafford, where Australia ended England's resistance late in the final session of the fourth Test to secure the urn and a dramatic 185-run victory.
Tim Paine's team, accused of choking under pressure as Ben Stokes snatched an astonishing one-wicket win in the third Test, bounced back to bank a momentous 2-1 series lead.
Paine achieved something beyond the reach of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke in becoming the first Australian captain to retain the urn in England since Steve Waugh in 2001.
Marnus Labuschagne landed one in the rough to break a stubborn ninth-wicket stand, spanning 64 minutes and no shortage of tense moments, then Josh Hazlewood trapped Overton lbw to complete the win at 6.14pm local time.
Overton, Joe Denly and Jos Buttler faced a combined 339 deliveries, giving their team hope of completing a great escape on a par with Monty Panesar and Jimmy Anderson's Cardiff miracle in 2009.
Overton's review briefly delayed Australia's celebrations as England, rolled for 197 after being set a target of 383, fell 81 balls short of salvaging a draw.
It came two hours after clouds started to roll in at tea, raising the hosts' hopes of bad light.
"A few nervous moments," Paine admitted.
The win was a fortnight after Ben Stokes broke the tourists' hearts at Headingley, raising suggestions Australia were bereft of momentum and mettle.
"That was a loss that would break a lot of teams but I was really confident that we weren't one of those teams. I could feel it," Paine reflected.