Harper Not Out, Should Walk

Akil KapasiContributor IJanuary 15, 2010

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 05:  Umpires Tony Hill and Daryl Harper examine the ball during day three of the third test match between South Africa and England at Newlands Cricket Ground on January 5, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Like an old record that has been on a loop for far too long, Daryl Harpers now customary Test Match clangers are beginning to get boring.

It provides the viewer great controversy and talking point, but when the question that keeps reappearing is the standard of umpiring, then surely this has to be a worry? 

Especially when it’s the same umpire in the dock.  

The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) is not a perfect system.  Nor is it claimed to be.  However, the main aim of it as said by the International Cricket Council (ICC) is that it is there in a bid to eradicate 'obvious howlers.'

As far as the players are concerned, it's a good thing too.  More so, when Harper is the man in charge. 

Twice in the last test match he made absolutely shocking decisions that were overturned by review.  Once when Ashwell Prince was adjudged to be caught down the leg side when in fact he missed the ball by a foot.  And secondly when Kevin Pietersen was given out LBW, when he clearly middled the ball into his pads.

The problem that has arisen in this test match is that Harper is the man who is in charge of the UDRS.  A relatively simply task you would think when compared to the rigours of being in the middle.

Sit, watch the replays, listen to sound, drink tea, eat biscuits, easy.

Or so you would think.

In the England first innings, the on field umpire Tony Hill adjudged Alastair Cook out LBW to Morne Morkel.  Cook reviewed the decision.  The replay clearly showed- although marginal- that Morkel had overstepped the line and the decision should have been overturned. 

Harper decided it was far too marginal and let the decision stay with the on field umpire.  England were prepared to let this one slide, as it was a marginal call.

Today with Graeme Smith on 15, Ryan Sidebottom delivered a seemingly innocuous wide delivery which Smith attempted to cut but only succeeded in getting the slightest of edges behind to Matt Prior. 

The England slip cordon went up convinced they had their man.  Umpire Hill again turned the decision down and Captain Andrew Strauss immediately asked for a review.

The whole world and their dog seemingly heard the nick that Harper missed.  Smith went on to score a wonderful 105.

An investigation by SABC later revealed that Harper had deemed that volume 4 out of 10 on the stump mic was high enough to hear the edge.  Clearly it wasn't.

When an umpire makes mistakes out in the middle, you can forgive them.  They are only human after all.

When they make basic errors even with the aid of technology, it begs the question.  Should he walk?  I hope so, because it doesn't look as though the ICC will give him out any time soon.