Australia superstar Steve Smith almost had another screamer to add to his long list of catches, producing a brilliant effort during the third and last Test against South Africa in Sydney, only to be denied by the TV umpire.
After beating Dean Elgar multiple times during the opening overs of South Africa’s first innings, Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood found the edge of the Proteas skipper’s bat on the last ball of his second over.
Fielding at the second slip, Smith dived forward to his right towards the dipping ball and momentarily looked as if he had taken a clean catch. His teammates celebrated in unison as if Smith had taken the catch of the series – which he would have – but the umpires weren’t convinced at all. They sent the decision upstairs to the third umpire with a soft signal of ‘not out’.
“I don’t think Steve Smith’s totally convinced, but on the angles and replays we’ve seen already, this looks like it’s carried,” said cricketer-turned-commentator Ricky Ponting on air.
Meanwhile, TV umpire Richard Kettleborough continued to have a look at the replays from different angles.
“(The ball) has actually carried into his hand on the full,” added Ponting.
“That has not bounced before it hit his hand, but you heard the third umpire say, ‘his fingers have split’. So, they’re trying to check with his fingers being split if any part of that ball has actually hit the grass after it’s gone into his hand on the full.
“The ball has not bounced before it’s got to him; it’s gone into his hands on the full. And now the judgement that the third umpire has to make now … does the ball then go down onto the ground and up?
“It’s very, very hard to tell, even from the angle that we’ve got.”
After several minutes, Kettelborough eventually gave the decision in batsman’s favour, much to the disappointment of the local crowd.
Here’s the video:
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 7, 2023
Some Australian fans wanted to let the decision slip away from their memory. “The legend @bhogleharsha said: you always see what you want to see in these situations, it’s always 50:50. Move on,” a fan wrote.
After declaring their innings at 475/4 with the help of Usman Khawaja’s unbeaten 195 and Smith’s 104, Australia bundled out South Africa on 255 in the first innings and kept them under the pump in the second essay.
The visitors score read 106/2 when players of both sides shook hands and accepted the draw. Australia sealed the series 2-0 with comprehensive victories in Brisbane and Melbourne.