Marnus Labuschagne has revealed he would have 'walked' if a controversial catch on day one at the SCG wasn't sent to the third umpire, but believes the replays clearly showed he wasn't out. Labuschagne was at the centre of controversy on Wednesday when Simon Harmer claimed a low catch in the slips.
On-field umpires referred the decision upstairs with the 'soft signal' of out, but third umpire Richard Kettleborough believed he could see the ball hit the ground and gave Labuschagne a reprieve. Close-up replays appeared to show the ball going straight into Harmer's right hand before he scooped it up.
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But under the black and white letter of the law, there can't be any part of the ball touching the grass even if there are fingers under it or hands around it. Side-on replays clearly showed that to be the case, leading Kettleborough to overturn the on-field decision.
“No, clearly not. I was still batting," Labuschagne said at stumps when asked if he thought he should have been given out. “It was just one of those ones. If there’s no TV, I’m walking. That’s how the game works.
“With the amount of slow motion footage you see, you see his fingers push and split open. According to the technicality, some of the ball is touching the grass regardless of whether his fingers are under it or not. It’s just hard because back in the day, or even before we had this technology and camera work, they’d send you packing.’’
South African bowler Anrich Nortje didn' agree and said the whole Proteas team thought it was out. “All of us thought it was out,’’ he said.
“Simon was convinced it went straight in. I think when you look at the front on (vision), when you look at the angles, to us it looks like the fingers are underneath it.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get that one. I think it would have been a big one at that stage. We were convinced it’s out.”
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The majority of commentators also suggested South Africa had been hard done by. “I feel as though the South Africans can be quite aggrieved here,” Mike Hussey said on Fox Cricket.
“The soft signal was out. I felt like the ball landed on the fingers and he was able to scoop it up. His fingers are down, it hits the top of the fingers, pushed it back.
“I don’t think there’s conclusive evidence there to overturn that decision. That’s just my opinion.”
Former top umpire Simon Taufel told Channel 7 it was “a really tough decision”. He added: “The ICC did tweak its protocols in this area last year where the soft signal in this particular case with a fair catch would carry less weight only if the TV replays were inconclusive or poor or non-existent. Richard really had a tough job with that one, particularly because the camber of the ground slopes away.
“It does (look like a catch) but that’s where the foreshortening of the lens really becomes a little bit deceptive, when you look at it front-on. I think that’s why Richard started with that side-on shot, because it looks like the ball is dipping down.
“Sometimes you’ll get that half frame in between the ball dipping down and the ball going up. That’s why the side-on shot is often a better one for the umpire to look at. I can understand why South Africa might feel a little hard done by there.”
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