Aus vs Pak – MCG Test – Mohammad Hafeez says inconsistent umpiring and technology curse cost Pakistan

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Pakistan team director Mohammad Hafeez believes “inconsistent umpiring” and the “curse” of the decision review technology cost Pakistan a famous Test victory over Australia at the MCG.

Chasing 317 for victory in the fourth innings, Pakistan needed 98 runs with five wickets in hand when Mohammad Rizwan was adjudged caught behind off the wristband of his glove via a DRS review from Pat Cummins having initially been given not out on field by umpire Michael Gough.

Third umpire Richard Illingworth decided there was conclusive evidence via both Hotspot and Real-Time Snicko that the ball had come off the wristband of the right glove and not off his forearm as Rizwan had protested to the on-field umpires.

That decision sparked a massive collapse as Pakistan lost 5 for 18 to lose the game inside four days and lose the series 2-0 with one Test remaining. Hafeez blamed the umpiring and the use of the DRS technology for the result.

“We made some mistakes as a team, we will take that, we will address those things, but at the same time I believe inconsistent umpiring and technology curse [has] really given us the result which should have been different,” Hafeez said in the post-match press conference.

“I feel like these are the areas that need to be addressed. I spoke to [Rizwan] and he’s a very honest person. He said he did not even feel that it touched anywhere near the gloves. And what we saw, there should be conclusive evidence to reverse the decision of the umpire. That’s what I know. The umpire gave it not out and there was no conclusive kind of evidence where the decision has to be turned over.”

Former ICC umpire Simon Taufel spoke on Channel Seven’s broadcast in Australia in the aftermath of the Rizwan decision and believed that the third umpire had made the right call.

“For me, conclusive evidence was the ball on top of that wristband attached to the glove, with the spike [on Snicko],” Taufel said. “Very comfortable from where I’m sitting that Richard Illingworth the third umpire had conclusive evidence to overturn that decision.”

Cummins, who claimed the wicket of Rizwan and finished with five wickets in the innings and 10 for the match, also felt the evidence was conclusive.

“I thought it was worth review and then [it was] clearly off the gloves strap,” Cummins said.

“Sometimes the technology brings some decisions which obviously, as a human we don’t understand. The ball hitting the stump is always out. Why is it umpire’s call? I never understand that. So I think there are a lot of areas that need to be addressed for the betterment of cricket in general. I think technology is something that is taking away from the instinct of the game.”

Mohammad Hafeez

Hafeez was also aggrieved about the umpire’s call aspect of the DRS in reference to the lbws in the game. He did not specifically mention which decisions he was unhappy about but Pakistan were left frustrated on day three when both Mitchell Marsh and Steven Smith had survived tight lbw calls via umpire’s call during their match-winning 154-run stand.

Marsh shouldered arms to a ball that nipped back from Hasan Ali on 26 and was given not out by Gough who deemed it wasn’t hitting off stump. Pakistan reviewed with ball-tracking showing it was clipping off stump but not enough to overturn the decision. He went on to make 96. Smith was later hit on the pad by Aamer Jamal on 45 and was also given not out by Gough, who deemed it was missing leg. Ball-tracking showed it was clipping leg but it was umpire’s call and the decision remained. Smith only made five more runs.

In the fourth innings, Imam-ul-Haq was given out lbw to Cummins by Gough on field. Ball-tracking said it was umpire’s call on hitting the middle and leg bail and Imam remained out.

Earlier in the second innings of the match, Shaheen Shah Afridi was given out lbw to Nathan Lyon by Gough and it remained out on umpire’s call.

Hafeez felt that the technology was inconsistent and unacceptable.

“Technology, I’m in favor of that, but [only] if it’s giving you benefit,” Hafeez said. “But if it’s bringing some doubts and bringing some curse into the game, it should not be accepted by anyone.

“Sometimes the technology brings some decisions which obviously, as a human we don’t understand.

“The ball hitting the stump is always out. Why is it umpire’s call? I never understand that. So I think there are a lot of areas that need to be addressed for the betterment of cricket in general. I think technology is something that is taking away from the instinct of the game.”

Cummins was the victim of a DRS decision himself while batting in the third innings. He was given out caught behind off Jamal by Gough. He reviewed it convinced he had not hit it. There was no evidence on Hotspot of the ball making contact with the bat, but there was a tiny murmur on Snicko as the ball passed the bat and that was enough for the third umpire to uphold Gough’s decision.

“I didn’t think I hit it,” Cummins said.

“I thought I missed it by a bit. So obviously something showed up on Snicko. Again, one of those ones that can go either way. Kind of got to accept this decision.

Cummins believed the technology is as good as it can be and tends to even itself out across the course of a game or a series.

“I don’t know what the alternative is,” Cummins said. “I think it’s pretty good. Umpire’s call is obviously 50-50. But I think it does even itself out. I think it’s as good as it can be. So I think it’s good for the game. There’s always going to be moments that you kind of rue or you wish were looked at a little bit differently or maybe technology picked up a little bit differently, but I think it’s pretty good.”

The two sides had one umpire’s call each go against them in the first Test in Perth. Hafeez said he would not raise the issue with the umpires or the match referee as he didn’t think it would make a difference despite maintaining his view that it had affected the result.

“Personally it won’t bring any difference because at the end of the day we all watch the game and we will notice some of the areas obviously as a cricketer we don’t understand,” Hafeez said. “And we play this game for the fans and the fans will never understand why this technology is inconsistent. And the result of the game basically comes up differently.”

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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