Louis Cameron, at Blundstone Arena
Louis Cameron, at Blundstone Arena
Australia's Glenn Maxwell became the latest batsmen to survive a controversial fingertip catch decision in the second Gillette T20 International against England in what turned out to be a match-defining moment.
In a decision sure to split opinion among Australia and England fans, Maxwell survived an attempted catch from Jason Roy despite former Test captain Michael Clarke being adamant it should have been given out.
On 59, Maxwell stood his ground after his lofted drive found the hands of long-off fielder Roy, who had initially hung back before diving forward in his attempt to complete the dismissal.
Umpires deliberated before Gerard Abood signalled for a television replay, giving a soft signal of out.
Clarke strongly insisted the ball had been scooped up before it had touched the turf, calling it "100 per cent out", but third umpire Chris Brown disagreed and deemed Maxwell safe to leave Roy shaking his head.
It proved a decisive blow for England, with Maxwell going on to almost single-handedly win the match for Australia with an unbeaten 103 off just 58 balls.
England captain Eoin Morgan confirmed after the match that Roy was of the opinion he'd taken the catch cleanly.
Maxwell suggested the fielder isn't always certain about whether they've completed a legitimate catch or not in those type of line-ball situations, but conceded he didn't have a clear view of Roy's attempt.
"With those ones where it doesn't go completely cleanly into your hands and it's more of a fingers catch, you always have that little bit of doubt in your mind," Maxwell told reporters after Australia’s five-wicket win.
"You're almost trying to convince yourself that it's out.
"It was a long way away, I definitely didn’t have a clear view but it was just one of those ones where you never know what it might look like when they send it up to third umpire.
"As a fielder you think you catch it, and as the rule states if it touches any part of the ground (it's not out) and it looked like it was touching part of the ground when it came up on the big screen.
"The umpire told us what was going on and ruled in favour thankfully."
Morgan explained that while television replays often distort how these catches are viewed, he doesn’t have a solution to an imperfect system.
"We always know that the TV makes it look worse than it is," said Morgan. "I trust the players' call, I agreed with the on-field umpire at the time.
"I can understand how it was overturned because it looked worse on the TV.
"I'm all for reviewing catches if the umpire is 60 metres away and he can't see - he needs to go upstairs.
"But there's no solution to it yet. Until somebody comes up with one, I'm not sure (the rule should be changed)."
While the Maxwell incident was rare in that the third umpire went against the on-field soft signal, there have been a couple of other close catch calls that have sparked debate this summer.
How can that be no out @JasonRoy20 has got his finger underneath the ball!! Don’t people realise that grass is longer than the depth of your finger being squeezed into the turf but he’s caught the ball!! @ICC need to look at this #AusVsEng— Paul Collingwood (@Colly622) February 7, 2018
Australia captain Steve Smith was ruled out caught behind in similar circumstances in the third Gillette ODI against England, with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler the beneficiary of a borderline decision.
Smith accepted the decision but admitted he is not a fan of the decision-making process that delivered the outcome.
"I'm not sure I'm a big fan of the ruling with the soft signal," Smith said. "That's obviously the ruling at the moment. It's hard to overturn anything."
Smith also found himself on the wrong end of a tight call when he claimed a catch at second slip in the third Test, but was denied the dismissal when the third umpire stayed with the soft signal of not out.
Usman Khawaja had one ruled in his favour during the Boxing Day Test when he caught Stuart Broad on the boundary while diving forward.
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
Australia squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler.
First T20I Australia won by seven wickets. Scorecard
Second T20I Australia won by five wickets. Scorecard
Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21