England fast bowler Steve Harmison feels the umpire review system still lacks consistency and clarity and fears it will only make a "mockery" of the on-field umpires. Harmison was reacting, in his column in the Mail on Sunday, to one such review that went against him during the first Test against West Indies in Jamaica, an lbw verdict against Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Harmison and the on-field umpire Tony Hill felt Sarwan was trapped in front of the stumps but the batsman challenged Hill's verdict. The third umpire, Daryl Harper, felt the ball may have missed the top of the stumps and Sarwan, then on 5, went on to score 107 and shared an important 202-run stand for the second wicket with Chris Gayle.
What surprised Harmison, however, was what Harper communicated to Hill after studying replays, which seemed to suggest that Harper himself wasn't entirely convinced that the ball was missing the stumps.
"When I trapped Ramnaresh Sarwan back in the crease, I was convinced he was out," Harmison wrote. "So was Hill, which was why he stuck up his finger.
"When Hill, after consulting Daryl Harper, then reversed his original decision and gave Sarwan not out, I asked him why, and he said something like: 'Daryl said he couldn't be sure but it may have been going over the top.' I said to Tony: 'That's not right. He's got to have seen something that proved you were wrong.' Then he said: 'Yeah, I thought so as well.'
"There doesn't seem to be any consistency or clarity," Harmison wrote. "That means umpires are in danger of being isolated on the field and terrified to make a decision.
"And I have to say, such is my continuing confusion, that I fear the new system is in danger of making a mockery of the time-honoured authority of the officials on the field. "
The review system was tried out in two earlier series, but the rule has been modified for the current four-Test series against West Indies, with the number of reviews per innings per team reduced from three to two.
Harmison said the defeat, which culminated in England being bowled out for 51 and suffering an innings and 23-run defeat, was one of the worst in his career.
"I have never felt worse in my cricketing career than I do now, apart from when we were beaten by Australia in Adelaide on the last Ashes tour after setting up a position from which we might have won.
"Five years ago I produced my best ever bowling spell here, 7 for 12, as we routed West Indies for 47 to win the first Test and set up a series victory. Now I know what it is like to be on the other end - and it's c**p."