Another catch controversy struck at the Ashes, this time with former captain Joe Root attempting to claim a grassed catch to dismiss Steve Smith on 0 off the bowling of Chris Woakes late on day three at Old Trafford.
Root’s reaction raised eyebrows after grasping the ball as he looked immediately to the ground and didn’t celebrate at all, but after a moment of confusion the England team appeared to encourage the umpires to go upstairs – and suddenly we had another multi-replay review on our hands.
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As always, it was quite difficult to tell if the ball had carried or not on most of the camera angles, before one was found that showed it hitting the deck.
Third umpire Kumar Dharmasena declared there was evidence of the ball being grounded, and Smith survived.
“Steve Smith’s heart would have been in his mouth for a short while there,” said Mark Butcher on commentary.
“But in the end Kumar Dharmasena has given the only decision he could have given.”
“I think a lot of the time you can go on the fielder’s reaction,” replied Ricky Ponting.
“There’s certain times when you’re 100 per cent positive you’ve caught it, I think if he was positive there, Joe, he would’ve thrown that straight up.
“The fact that he looked down at the ground as well, he actually kept his eyes down to see if he could find a spot where it might have touched the grass.
“They are so close, they are so touch and go. Making a decision there, if the ball has actually bounced up off of the ground and into the palm of his hand or whether it’s bounced up off the end of his fingers and gone up into the palm of his hand.
“There is so much doubt with those.
“The amount of technology we’ve got in the game, it’s still not got to the point where it’s 100 per cent clear on whether these catches do carry or not.”
Some Aussie viewers questioned the actions of Root.
“How’s the spirit of cricket on show there from Joe Root, claiming the catch when it clearly hit the ground,” tweeted Aussie journo Ronny Lerner.
“After seconds of contemplation, he was mouthing the words ‘that’s out’ a few times while raising his index finger.”
But opinions were divided.
Smith would eventually depart having added 17 to the total in a short cameo of his usual twitches and eccentricities.
With an early full-blooded drive off Moeen Ali was cut off spectacularly by Harry Brook signalling Smith’s intention to start putting pressure back on the English, Smith briefly went about his usual business of flicking length deliveries to all parts of the leg side before being dismissed by Mark Wood.
Wood came wide of the crease to bang in a cross-seam bouncer at Smith’s ribs, seeing a half-baked attempt to turn the ball around the corner ending up with a soft touch on the gloves through to Jonny Bairstow for a simple catch and Wood’s 100th Test wicket.
The fourth day’s play at Old Trafford will get underway at 8pm AEST tonight with the Australians 4/113 and still trailing by 162 runs.
With torrential rain forecast for Manchester over the coming two days and the Australians currently 2-1 up in the series ahead of the final Test at The Oval, Pat Cummins and co will be looking to the skies to save them from almost certain defeat at Old Trafford in order to retain the Ashes.
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