Island Cricket

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sangakkara shakes on Koertzen's blunder | The Australian

KUMAR SANGAKKARA proved himself a true champion by shaking hands with South African Rudi Koertzen after the game despite a woeful decision by the umpire that cost the Sri Lankan the chance of making a historic double century.

Koertzen apologised to Sangakkara for giving him out in controversial circumstances when he was on 192.

A bouncer from fast bowler Stuart Clark came off the batsman's shoulder, ricocheted off his helmet and dollied to Ricky Ponting, who took the catch. The Australians appealed in unison and Koertzen saw it their way.

Clearly disappointed, Sangakkara stood his ground for a good few seconds, before heading towards the pavilion.

Sangakkara was on the verge of scoring his seventh double century. In his past eight Tests he has scored six centuries, including three doubles and two in excess of 150.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said Koertzen's decision had removed the player his team was building its fightback around.

"The plan was for him to bat through the day today and the other guys rally around him and have a few good partnerships. I was very disappointed the way he got out.

"We've had a very good look at it, but that's how the game goes. People do make mistakes. As cricketers we do the same. It's just that spur of the moment.

"It's very disappointing. I think we just have to move on. Rudi came and said sorry to him and Kumar being Kumar, he's fine with it. But he was very disappointed at that particular moment.

"But then you sit back after half an hour and you think: 'It's a mistake made by a human so that's it'."

Ponting said the fielding team "reacted to two noises we heard at the time" but clearly thought Sangakkara had been unlucky.

"I appealed and he was given out. Things happen very quickly out on the field when a bouncer is bowled to a batsman like that. At the time when it happened I thought there had been bat on it," Ponting said.

Australia's captain paid tribute to Sangakkara's innings, in which he hit 27 fours and one six. He faced 282 balls and was at the wicket for 431 minutes. It followed a 57 (nine boundaries) in the first innings.

Ponting said Sangakkara's knock was one of the finest he had seen.

"From 120 on I thought that was some of the best batting I've ever seen and running out of partners."

Ponting said the manner in which the Sri Lanka vice-captain had worked the new ball around the ground was superb and one of the most difficult things to do as a batsman at that stage of an innings.

Ponting seemed irritated, however, that Sangakkara was not given out when Michael Hussey claimed a catch off the batsman from the bowling of Brett Lee in the first innings.

Ponting has attempted to get other captains to agree to a system where a batsman accepts the fieldsman's word. But it has been rejected in favour of referring the decision to the third umpire, a system that almost always favours the batsman because of camera angle doubts.

"The other captains wanted to have the replay referral system, which I don't think is right because as we've seen in this game, 100 per cent of them are given not out," Ponting said.

"I think there's only been one that's been given to the third umpire that's been given out. And I don't think that's right because then you will get batsmen just standing there all the time. That is not what the game is all about."

Ponting believed the umpires erred by referring the Sangakkara decision in the first innings. "I'm not going to bang my head against a wall over it," he said. "As far as I'm concerned that whole issue has to rest with the onfield umpires now. It is up to them to make a decision.

"That one the other day, the umpires on the ground should have made the decision and not referred it because both of them weren't unsighted. The only reason it is supposed to be referred is if both of them are unsighted and they certainly weren't the other day."

Meanwhile, Jayawardene said Sri Lanka needed to re-group quickly after yesterday's defeat and show some fight and character in the upcoming three-Test series on home soil against England.

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