Harper put on spot by Richardson appeal

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The Independent Online

Mark Richardson had two important pieces of luck before lunch at Trent Bridge, both of which raised interesting points. When he had made five he played Steve Harmison away in the air on the leg side and was dropped by Andrew Strauss at forward short leg. He had scored 11 more runs when he played half-forward to Matthew Hoggard and survived a confident appeal for a catch behind.

Mark Richardson had two important pieces of luck before lunch at Trent Bridge, both of which raised interesting points. When he had made five he played Steve Harmison away in the air on the leg side and was dropped by Andrew Strauss at forward short leg. He had scored 11 more runs when he played half-forward to Matthew Hoggard and survived a confident appeal for a catch behind.

On the first occasion the ball flew at shoulder height to Strauss's right. He got his right hand to it, knocked it up and seemed to have the rebound covered with both his hands. But he was still moving to his right and as the ball came down it hit the visor on Strauss's helmet and this deflected it away from his hands.

Strauss did his best to dive forward and take the catch, but it was now too far away from him. If he had made the catch after the ball had hit the visor, however, the laws state clearly that Richardson would not have been out even though the ball was still in play. That might have been a tricky one for the umpires.

The second occurrence confronted umpire Daryl Harper with a teaser. As the ball appeared to flick the outside edge of Richardson's bat, the inside edge came distinctly and probably rather noisily into contact with his pad. The appeal, such as it was, gave the impression that it was simply a matter of waiting for the batsman to turn and make his way off. Harper did not agree and walked smartly forward to give Hoggard his sun-hat - for it was the end of the over.

It was only by dint of watching half a dozen replays, some of which were in slow motion, that it was possible, in the commentary box, to say that the outside edge had made contact with the ball. The umpire is able to see the incident only once and at full speed. With the bat hitting the pad as well, Harper would have had to have laser-sharp vision to say with his hand on his heart that Richardson had hit the ball beyond any reasonable doubt.

Harper made the only decision the laws allow him - for there had to be doubt. To have given Richardson out could only have involved guesswork - a word that should have no place in an umpire's dictionary.

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