Steve Smith's devious ploy comes to light as cricket world calls out 'loophole'

The actions of Australia's stand-in captain look likely to force the ICC into a big rule change.

Steve Smith and Alex Carey, pictured here in action for Australia.
Steve Smith has instructed Alex Carey to take off the bails so the square-leg umpire has to use the third umpire. Image: Getty

Steve Smith has found in ingenious way to exploit a loophole in cricket's Decision Review System - and it might spark a rule change going forward. Cricket fans and commentators have noticed that Smith - who is deputising as Australia's captain in Pat Cummins' absence for the third Test - has instructed wicket-keeper Alex Carey to take off the bails on any ball that has gone close to the batter's edge.

Smith will then appeal to the square-leg umpire for a stumping, forcing the official to use the third umpire. Under the current review process, the third umpire will check every aspect of the dismissal - including whether or not the batter has hit the ball.

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That means the Aussies don't have to burn a review if they think the batter might have edged the ball because the third umpire will check it during the stumping review anyway. Fans have noticed a number of examples of Smith using the loophole during the third Test, with many of the stumping reviews showing the batter's foot to be well in the crease.

It worked perfectly for Australia in the first innings, with a stumping review on Ravi Ashwin showing he had indeed nicked a Matthew Kuhnemann delivery. The decision on whether Smith had to use a DRS review or not was taken out of his hands because the square-leg umpire opted to use the third umpire.

Cricket fans and pundits were quick to notice Smith's devious play, with Brad Davidson writing on Twitter: "The Aussies are all over this glitch in the DRS system. Going up whenever the ball is close to the bat for an ambitious stumping knowing full well they don’t have to go for a review and the third umpire checks both edge and stumping. Might be something the ICC has to fix soon."

Steve Smith, pictured here asking for a DRS review during the third Test between Australia and India.
Steve Smith asks for a DRS review during the third Test between Australia and India. (AAP Photo/Surjeet Yadav)

Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle pointed out that the square-leg umpire should "see through" Smith's tactic, writing: "The umpires have to find a way to see through the tactic of a keeper taking the bails off and asking for a stumping so that they get to check the edge without wasting a review."

Others suggested it would force the ICC to change the rule and limit third umpires to only checking the stumping on a stumping review. Sports reporter Bernie Coen even said it wasn't a good look for Smith to be intentionally exploiting the system.

Nathan Lyon spins Australia to cusp of victory

Australia suffered yet another batting collapse on the morning of day two, losing 6-11 in the space of 35 minutes. The tourists grabbed an 88-run first-innings lead after being bowled out for 197, but they arguably should have been in front by many more.

Nevertheless, Nathan Lyon spun Australia into a winning position with 8-64 in India's second innings as the hosts were bowled out for 163. Lyon's second eight-wicket haul in India gave Australia just 76 to chase for victory.

"Certainly, it's up there as one of my career highlights, but I'm more proud about our group," Lyon said at stumps. "I think at the start of my career I probably felt more the weight of trying to win games in the last couple of innings.

"But it was actually my dad who sat me down and said there's three or four other bowlers who you're able to bowl with in partnerships and if you do your role then some days you're going to have success and some days your mates are. My dad just simplified it for me and made sure I wasn't over-complicating things and putting too much pressure on myself. They can be high pressure environments, and if we can stay nice and calm and collected, enjoy the battle."

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