How confusion between Steve Smith and umpires led to eight extra overs at the Gabba
A communication gap between Australian skipper Steve Smith and umpires led to extra time and eight extra overs being bowled on the fourth evening of the first Test between Australia and Pakistan at the Gabba.
Smith later said that he wanted to finish play at the scheduled time so that his bowlers could have some much-needed rest, but it is being reported that the umpires decided to have extra time based on an earlier conversation with the Australian captain.
The ICC's Test match playing condition 16.2.1 states that "the umpires may decide to play an extra 30 minutes (a minimum of eight overs) extra time at the end of any day (other than the last day) if requested by either captain, if in the umpire's opinion, it would bring about a definite result on that day". However, Smith did not officially ask for the extra time from umpires Richard Illingworth and Ian Gould.
“The umpires believed they were acting on a request from Steve Smith, based on a conversation with him about the granting of extra time a few overs before the scheduled end of play. It is the umpires' decision as to whether to agree to the request, and the guide for umpires is that a team should be at least seven wickets down before such a request should be granted,” the International Cricket Council said in a statement on Monday.
The visitors were struggling with seven wickets down at the stumps time of 9.30 p.m, which was already one and a half hours later than usual due to rain earlier in the day.
"Early on in the day, I sort of said 'it's great that we have that extra half hour up our sleeve if we need it'," Smith said. "And then, later on, Gunner Gould was pretty adamant that he wanted to sort of stay out there and try and get the game over and done with.
"The umpires deemed for it to be an opportunity of a result. We went with that. I probably, at that point in time, would have liked to come off and given our bowlers a rest - they'd worked incredibly hard all day and Pakistan were just starting to get onto a bit of a roll and looked quite comfortable.
"I would've liked to have come off. But you've got to go with the umpire's call. It's their decision out on the ground, and they decided to stay out there."
Reportedly, it all began with just six overs to go in the day’s play during which Smith enquired about extra time. The umpires said that Australia could take it if their opposition were seven wickets down and Smith in reply said his team had already achieved that.
Later, when it was time for stumps, Smith made his way to the slip cordon thinking the decision rested with the umpires, while the umpires saw Smith’s movement across to the slips as a confirmation that he wanted extra time.
There was no talk between Smith and the umpires at 9.30 as to whether the former wanted the extra overs or not.
These extra eight overs could have affected the eventual outcome of the game, for the hosts had only picked up one wicket in the 27 overs before it. The bowlers were quite tired after a long day and the Pakistan batters were on a roll. After the extra half and hour, Pakistan added 51 vital runs although they lost a wicket in the last over before stumps which was called at 10.09 pm local time.
Pakistan captain Misbah was also concerned with the eight extra overs
Pakistan skipper Misbah-Ul-Haq said although his team scored some crucial runs in their quest of chasing down 490, the decision to have the 8 extra overs did concern him.
"It was a bit of both. Everybody believed that after watching day and night Test cricket, especially in Brisbane, that the most difficult time to bat is under lights," Misbah said. "We were a bit concerned but at the same time, we were a bit relaxed because, at that time, when they took the extra half hour, their main bowler (Mitchell) Starc just finished a spell.
"We were just hoping that now he's not bowling and from one side maybe they have to bowl (Nathan) Lyon and there's a bit of moisture in the ground, so it might not swing and turn that much. I thought if we could add another 40 runs it would help us the next morning. That exactly worked for us. That could have gone either way, but we got 50-something runs in that session and that just got us a bit closer."
Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz who was at the crease with Asad Shafiq during the extra time said he was quite content with the decision as conditions were suitable for batting.
"I was not expecting it, but then when the umpire said that we have a half-hour extension, I felt it was good because the ball was coming onto the bat really nicely and Asad was playing really well as well, so I wanted him to score his century last night," Wahab told ABC radio.
Pakistan on Monday eventually lost the game by just 39 runs.