The third umpire process of soft on-field calls has again been brought into question after almost four minutes of replays couldn’t overturn Steve Smith’s controversial dismissal as Australia fell to a ODI series defeat to England.
It was Australia’s first home ODI series loss in seven years after a 16-run defeat in Sydney on Sunday night.
Smith first appeared to walk but then stood his ground after England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler claimed a low chance off the driving outside edge as Australia battled towards a target of 303.
Umpires sent an on-field decision of out, before third umpire Kumar Dharmasena deliberated for just under four minutes before upholding the on-field decision.
In that time Smith returned to his crease, marked centre, shadow batted and intimated to on-field umpires he thought Buttler had scooped the ball up in the webbing between his thumb and index finger.
Watch the incident below:
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 21, 2018
Former England Test captain Kevin Pietersen claimed in commentary he believed the ball had bounced, before questioning the process that has regularly been a point of contention in the Big Bash competition this year.
“I’m not sure about this soft signal,” he said during a stint in the Nine Network commentary box.
“We’ve got enough television and enough brilliant broadcast out there. We should be able to make decisions off the camera and take decisions away.”
A Buttler century had earlier powered England to 6-302, with Australia struggling to lift the ante when required and ending the chase with four wickets still in the sheds to give the visitors an unassailable 3-0 series lead.
Needing 22 from the final Chris Woakes (2-57) over, Australia scored just three runs off the first two balls before its hopes were dashed when Marcus Stoinis (56 off 43) was caught on the backward square leg boundary.
Tim Paine struggled to find the boundary at the other end, ending the game not out on 31 from 35 balls with just one four as Australia finished at 6-286.
The result gives England its second one-day series win in Australia in 30 years after the pain of this summer’s Ashes, and makes for the Aussies’ worst start to an ODI summer since 2001-02 against New Zealand and South Africa.
Australia has now also lost 10 of its past 11 completed matches, making for the worst such streak in the team’s history.
Before Smith’s controversial dismissal, he combined for a 69-run stand with opener Aaron Finch, who hit a 53-ball 62 to go with his two centuries to start the series.
Australia could manage just 11 boundaries after Finch’s dismissal, as the game drifted away from Smith’s men.
In comparison, England had no such trouble lifting the run rate late in its innings courtesy of Buttler and Woakes’ 113-run 71-ball stand to end the innings.
Buttler hit the last ball of the English innings for two off Mitchell Starc to bring up his century, while Woakes hit five fours and two sixes in his 36-ball 53.
Australia’s trio of Ashes quicks all went for runs in their first one-day game together since last June, with Starc (0-63) and Pat Cummins (1-67) going at more than six an over and Josh Hazlewood (2-58) also expensive.