Cricket World Cup 2011
Smith angered by England loss
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Chennai - South Africa captain Graeme Smith was aggrieved on Sunday after a contentious umpire decision review led to his dismissal against England and started his team's slide to defeat.
TV umpire Asoka de Silva took about five minutes to decide that Smith had gloved a delivery by Graeme Swann to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, overturning the on-field umpire's call and adjudging the South Africa captain out on Sunday.
The incident was the first of two in the Group B game to show what critics say are the inadequacies of the umpire decision review system, which the International Cricket Council has said should only be used to overturn obvious errors.
Smith declined to elaborate upon his clear unhappiness at the dismissal, saying that it was not appropriate to discuss it publicly. His England counterpart backed the decision - if not the manner in which it was reached.
"We were absolutely happy because we were absolutely certain that he gloved the ball," Andrew Strauss said. "I was fielding at slip and there was a sound. In that sense, it was the right decision."
Smith joins the ranks of those unhappy at what has been seen by many players and officials as the imperfect implementation of the review system. Without so-called hotspot technology to show whether the ball has made contact with a player's bat, the TV umpire can be left to make a judgment call that can be as contentious as that made in a split second by his on-field counterpart.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has long been skeptical of the system, which makes use of technology paid for by broadcasters and must be assented to by both teams for use in bilateral series.
India was angered when England's Ian Bell was given not out in the team's memorable tie last week.
England benefited again from the system with Smith's dismissal but was disadvantaged by it later in the same innings.
Sri Lanka's De Silva took almost as long as he did with his earlier decision on Smith to overturn Simon Taufel's ruling that JP Duminy had been caught behind. Replays again showed it was an extremely narrow call that, according to the ICC, should be left to the on-field umpire.
South Africa batsman Jacques Kallis showed best how to avoid such controversy on Sunday when Stuart Broad drew him into an outside edge to Prior. It was unclear whether the ball had carried to the wicketkeeper but, sportingly, Kallis paused only to ask Prior if he had grasped the low catch cleanly.
Ultimately, Smith's ire may simply have been aroused by his team losing a match it was in a strong position to win.
Smith's exit for 22 was the first of three wickets to fall for the addition of 19 runs, but his team rallied to 124 without further loss before a slow and final collapse over 16 overs.
"It's obviously disappointing not to get over the line," Smith said. "There are a lot of batters' days in one-day cricket; I suppose this was a bowlers' day. It wasn't easy to bat on.
"I thought 170 was a good total for us to chase. But unfortunately we weren't good enough today."
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