Steve Smith and Pat Cummins have both suggested there needs to be changes to cricket's rules around low catches after more controversy erupted on day five at the SCG. The Aussies had to settle for a draw after South Africa reached 2-108 when play was called off with 5.1 overs remaining.
Australia appeared to be hard done by after a number of close lbw calls were turned down, while Smith thought he'd caught Heinrich Klaasen only for the third umpire to overturn the on-field 'soft signal' of out. Replays showed the ball coming very close to the turf with Smith's fingers underneath it, leading third umpire Richard Kettleborough to declare it not out.
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Under cricket's laws, no part of the ball is allowed to touch the ground during a catch attempt, no matter if a fielder's hands are on it. Many pointed out that due to the sloped nature of the centre square at the SCG, it may have appeared as thought the ball had hit the grass when it didn't.
It was the third instance of a low catch being called not out throughout the Test match, with Smith also denied the wicket of Dean Elgar and Marnus Labuschagne surviving an appeal from Simon Harmer. Speaking after the match, Smith said he probably didn't have a claim on the Elgar one - but was sure Klaasen should have been out.
"Yesterday I was bit more uncertain than today. I was pretty certain I got underneath the one today," Smith said. "Because my wrist was kind of flexed I think I may have slid it along the grass potentially, but today I was pretty sure I got underneath it.
"I think those ones that are close to the turf always don’t look right. But today I felt the slap on my fingers and I knew I was under the ball. That happens – the umpire is there to make a decision."
Aussie captain Cummins joined a chorus of calls for the rules to be changed to greater benefit fielders. He said: "I feel for the umpires in that sort of situation. I don't really know the answers but there has to be a way to improve it.
"As it currently stands, it's really hard to give a batter out. If there's any kind of doubt it goes the batter's way. With a couple of camera angles really slowed down it's pretty hard … I do feel for 'Ketts' (Kettleborough) up there. I don't know the answer but there surely there can be some small changes we can make to get a bit more definitive answers.
"I know there are 30-40 cameras here at the ground, it looks like the third umpire only has a couple of those angles available. Maybe there's more of those angles we can use down the track."
Cricket world left fuming over 'horrific' decision
Speaking to Wide World of Sports, Aussie legend Mark Taylor was highly critical of all three decisions. "If we're going to have conservative umpiring all the time the game will not continue to move forward. And one thing we need desperately in Test match cricket is the game to continue to move forward," he said.
"People don't want to sit around watching boring draws. We can talk about ... the possibility of four-day Test matches and things like that, but one thing we do need is positive cricket. And that means positive cricket by the players and positive umpiring. Unfortunately we didn't see that in this game."
Speaking in commentary for Fox Sports, Mark Waugh said Smith "caught that easily”. He added: "I thought he was out again. I think the three catches in this game were all out to be honest."
Kerry O'Keeffe said: “I just thought with the naked eye he got his fingers under the ball, but the more forensically you look at it, the more you can find a blade of grass. Smith believed he caught it, Nathan Lyon believes he is out, Heinrich Klaasen knew straight away, I’m not going for this."
Anna Lanning, the sister of Aussie women's captain Meg, was among the many to suggest there wasn't enough evidence to overturn Smith's catch on Sunday. She described the decision as 'horrific'.
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