Australian vice-captain Steve Smith quickly became a laughing stock after his mind-boggling review ignited an ugly batting collapse in Galle.
Australia’s dreadful use of the Decision Review System in Galle has come under the microscope following the second Test against Sri Lanka, and vice-captain Steve Smith is bearing the brunt of the criticism.
Pat Cummins’ men were outclassed in all facets of the game this week, with hosts Sri Lanka cruising to a crushing innings victory on Monday.
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Sri Lankan debutant Prabath Jayasuriya claimed 6/59 to help roll the visitors for 151 on day four of the series finale. It was Australia’s lowest team score in Test cricket since October 2018.
But despite some questionable umpiring from Kumar Dharmasena, the Australians shot themselves in the foot by burning three unsuccessful reviews early in Sri Lanka’s first innings.
Sri Lankan No. 5 Dinesh Chandimal profited from Australia’s botched reviews and a missed stumping from Alex Carey, compiling an unbeaten 206 after edging a Mitchell Starc delivery through to the wicketkeeper while still on 35.
It was the largest individual score by a Sri Lankan against Australia in Test history.
Smith later became a laughing stock for a mind-boggling review during Australia’s batting collapse, which evoked unwanted comparisons to the 2016 Sri Lankan tour.
Australia was 2/59 in the 19th over when Jayasuriya trapped Smith, who was yet to get off the mark, on the back pad with a delivery that spun past the outside edge. It was absolutely plumb.
Umpire Michael Gough raised the dreaded finger without hesitation, and a bemused Smith called for the review following a brief consultation with teammate Marnus Labuschagne.
Replays confirmed the inevitable — three reds, with Hawkeye suggesting the ball would have struck halfway up middle stump.
Smith gingerly returned the sheds, shaking his head and muttering under his breath after registering the seventh duck of his Test career.
It was a desperate and ill-disciplined review from the former Australian captain, one that rightfully came under heavy criticism from cricket pundits.
But Labuschagne was arguably just as guilty — he should have warned his batting comrade against wasting another unsuccessful review.
Cricket commentator Adam Collins tweeted: “I’ve seen a lot of bad reviews — they happen. But Smith’s one of the worst; totally lacking in broader match awareness with so many batters to follow and fielders around the bat.”
Former Victorian captain Darren Berry posted: “That is a very poor review need to be accountable and honest at both ends irrespective of the player absolutely plumb.”
The Australian’s Peter Lalor branded it “one of the worst reviews you will ever see”.
The Galle defeat was Cummins’ first as Test captain and Andrew McDonald’s first as national coach, with Australia slipping to second on the World Test Championship ladder.
“I think half our batting line-up and half our bowling line-up hasn’t played a lot over here in the subcontinent,” Cummins told reporters after loss.
“We turned up knowing it’s a tough place to win series and games over here.
“So to come away with a series draw, the same team that won last week … It might be a reality check that it’s tough playing away from home, in different conditions to what we’ve grown up playing in.
“We’ll sit down and review it and look at different areas and maybe tactics, but I think it’s those methods which might be quite different to back home, and trying to be good enough overseas.
“I think we got a lot of lessons out of it to take to India next year.”
Originally published as ‘Should be banned’: Steve Smith torn to shreds following desperate review