Australia vs South Africa: Controversy at SCG as TV umpire overturns catch

South Africa were convinced they had Marnus Labuschagne caught out, and the on-field umpires soft-signalled out. But the TV umpire disagreed.

It was a moment of controversy on rain and light interrupted the first day of the test match between Australia and South Africa at the SCG on Wednesday, and the tourists were not happy.

Australian No 3 Marnus Labuschagne, on 70 at the time, edged Marco Jansen to first slip and Simon Harmer claimed the catch in no uncertain terms.

Labuschagne was having none of it, the on-field umpires came together and went upstairs for a decision but, crucially, their soft-signal was out.

But after multiple slow-motion replays and close up shots, TV umpire Richard Kettleborough of England ruled there was enough evidence to overturn the decision.

The side-on shots raised some doubt as to whether the ball touched the grass as Harmer scooped it up, although the front on shot gave more weight to the view the ball went straight into the fingers and was cleanly caught.

Either way, there was enough to suggest the replays were not conclusive, and that the on-field decision should stand.

Marnus Labuschagne speaks with Kyle Verreynne and Simon Harmer as they discuss the catch that wasn't.

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Marnus Labuschagne speaks with Kyle Verreynne and Simon Harmer as they discuss the catch that wasn’t.

Even the Australians in the Fox Sports commentary team were not convinced there was enough evidence to overturn the catch.

“I feel as though the South Africans can be quite aggrieved there,” former Australian batter Mike Hussey said.

“The soft signal was out, I felt like the ball landed on the fingers and he was able to scoop it up. I don’t think there is conclusive evidence there to overturn the decision.”

South Africa's Simon Harmer, bottom centre, claims a catch off Australia's Marnus Labuschagne.

Rick Rycroft/AP

South Africa’s Simon Harmer, bottom centre, claims a catch off Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne.

Mark Waugh, one of the best slip fielders to ever grace the game, said: ‚ÄúThat’s the key, the soft signal was out. That could go either way, let’s be honest.

“It’s tough to tell. From the front it probably looked out, from the side there was probably enough doubt there. But they’ll count themselves unlucky the South Africans.

“Live, it looks OK that catch.”

Former Australian goalkeeper Adam Gilchrist added: “Given the soft signal was out, I’m not convinced I’ve seen anything with certainty that can turn that decision around.”

It provided a big talking point on an otherwise gloomy day for the patrons, with just 47 overs possible due to a combination of bad light and rain.

At stumps, Australia were 147-2, with Usman Khawaja unbeaten on 54. Labuschagne was eventually dismissed for 79, one of the impressive Anrich Nortje’s two victims.

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