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Watch: ‘That mark could have come from anywhere’ – The DRS Hot Spot ‘howler’ that turned the first-ever day/night Test

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Watch: The very first day-night Test saw a controversial DRS call go against the touring New Zealand, arguably changing the course of the game.

New Zealand walked into the game trailing 0-1 in the Trans-Tasman Trophy but their hopes were up after holding Australia to a draw in Perth. The Black Caps’ bowlers helped them gain the upper hand in the pink-ball Test at Adelaide, with the game a low-scoring affair as both sides grappled to get to grips with the new format. After scoring 202 in the first innings, the Kiwis had Australia right on the mat at 116-8, a big lead seeming almost certain.

And soon enough, they got a chance. Nathan Lyon tried to sweep Mitchell Santner but missed. The ball instead went close to his top edge, ricocheted off his arm and landed in Kane Williamson’s hands at second slip. The New Zealand players appealed and then took a review.

Nigel Llong, the third umpire, looked at a number of replays and then decided to call for Hot Spot. As Lyon’s bat passed behind his shoulder, there was a mark clearly visible on its backend. However, Llong was unconvinced. He called in for other angles of Hot Spot, with the bat out of frame in some shots, and wasn’t able to determine if the ball had hit the bat clearly. He then called for Snicko, which failed to show any disturbance when the ball passed the bat.

However, when Hot Spot was brought back, and the front on angle was displayed, Llong himself remarked, “…there’s a mark there.” He asked for a split-screen with RTS to determine if the mark was from ball hitting bat. However, even after innumerable replays and repeated use of all the technology available, the third umpire wasn’t able to determine with certainty if the mark on the bat was made by the ball. He ended up telling the on-field umpire, S Ravi, “I can’t definitely say that he’s hit this.” He then went for the ball-tracking to determine whether an lbw dismissal was at play, before another error came about, with the replays showing a different shot when ball tracking was displayed.

The umpire was still unsure about his earlier call, and went back to the earlier Hot Spot replays to determine if Lyon had edged it. He looked at the legside frame again, and was unable to determine with certainty if the bat had taken an edge to his eyes. He gave a not out decision, adding to the on-field umpire, “There is a mark on the bat, but it could’ve come from anywhere.”

The New Zealand players weren’t pleased at the decision. Brendon McCullum could be seen shaking his head, and spoke of his frustration after play.

“At the time it was incredibly frustrating,” he said. “It definitely had a bearing on the game, you hope when mistakes are made, they don’t have a major bearing on the game but none of us are naïve enough to overlook the fact it did in this instance.

“At the same time, to Australia’s credit, they seized that opportunity, they were able to put on two very strong partnerships which gave them a short lead but more importantly time out of the game in terms of us having to bat under lights. It had a bearing but at the end we had an opportunity and weren’t good enough to take it.”

Ross Taylor also expressed his dissatisfaction.

“The players were pretty confident it was out, the HotSpot showed up, Lyon walking off and getting to the boundary – I think it’s had a big bearing on the match,” Taylor said. “But it is what it is, we’ve just got to get on with it, hopefully we can bat for as long as possible tomorrow.

“We can understand when umpires make the wrong decision on the field, but once you’ve got so many different angles and what not, you think that more often than not, 99 to 100% of the time you’re going to get the right answer. But I guess we didn’t today.”

Lyon had actually started walking towards the pavilion but stopped when there was a delay in the decision making process. Former players lambasted the decision made by the third umpire. In total, more than five minutes passed between the review being called for and the decision being communicated.

Lyon and wicketkeeper Peter Nevill then went onto forge an important 74-run partnership, the highest stand of the game, which brought Australia close to the New Zealand total, with some late hitting from Mitchell Starc – injured in the field and so batting at No.11 – giving Australia the lead. This slim lead at their hand would help them win a close game, giving Australia a 2-0 series win.

You can watch the incident here:


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