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Australia v New Zealand Test series: New Zealand victim of incorrect no-ball call in first Test against Australia

The no-ball blunder that spared Adam Voges and cost New Zealand a valuable wicket has highlighted the vexing problem cricket faces with the front-foot rule, in the latest umpiring controversy on Australia's tour of New Zealand.

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Voges spared after wrong call

An incorrect no-ball ruling by umpire Doug Bracewell spares Adam Voges, further highlighting problem cricket faces with the front-foot rule.

While the Black Caps magnanimously accepted the mistake as a part of the game it is an issue that  has the potential to cause much embarrassment to the sport.

Voges was bowled shouldering arms to Doug Bracewell in the final over of the day but was saved by English umpire Richard Illingworth's outstretched arm.

Television replays showed Illingworth had made the wrong call as Bracewell had part of his front foot behind the line. The Kiwis, who saw the replay minutes later in the dressing room, had no avenue to have the no-ball overturned via the decision review system.

Farcically, had Illingworth not initially called a no-ball he would have been entitled to seek video assistance on the legitimacy of the delivery, and Voges would have been on his way. Umpires have been reticent to call no-balls since the introduction of video technology for fear of scenarios such as the Voges incident. But it means front foot breaches can go unpunished, nor is it practical for every ball to be monitored by the video umpire.


The no-balls that cost James Pattinson two wickets in the Boxing Day Test would not have been awarded had the deliveries not produced wickets. During last year's Ashes, Sky Sports in the UK highlighted eight no-balls in three overs by Mitchell Johnson that were not detected by the on-field umpire. The Marylebone Cricket Club's World Cricket committee urged the introduction of automated technology to monitor overstepping in November last year.

Cricket Australia's cricket boss Pat Howard trialled a prototype of a no-ball device  during the week at training. The device relies on sensors built inside two planks of wood but needs a flat surface to work properly and cannot be used when the ground become worn or uneven.

The latest umpiring drama comes days after Mitchell Marsh was dismissed in controversial circumstances in the Chappell-Hadlee series decider. On that occasion, a prompt replay  led the umpires to review their decision but this time the Kiwis copped the rough end of the deal.

"That's cricket, once his arm's thrown out there's not much you can do about it, it's the way it goes, I suppose," New Zealand spinner Mark Craig said. "There's obviously going to be a bit of disappointment but we can't do much about it now."

The Australians realised their good fortune when they saw the replay in the dressing room.

"We were just hoping that it didn't come up on the big screen too quickly," Hazlewood quipped in reference to the Marsh dismissal. Voges's reprieve was the final insult for the Kiwis on a day where they were comprehensively outplayed by Australia. The Australians start the second day only 36 runs behind the Kiwis' 183 thanks to half-centuries by Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja. The pair averted a major collapse after Australia lost the wickets of Joe Burns and David Warner to slump to 2-5.

"We have lost wickets in clumps on these types of wickets. They batted brilliant, they're both in pretty good nick all the time it seems like," Hazlewood said.

"That partnership was very important at that stage of the game."

While ball dominated bat on Friday, the wicket at the Basin Reserve has tended to improve markedly for batting after the first day. Kumar Sangakkara made a double century and Brendon McCullum posted a triple ton in recent years here.

Australia's fastest route to victory now will be to amass a big enough lead to only have to bat once before dismissing the Black Caps for a second time.

"Once the shine and the hardness of the ball is gone it's quite a good wicket for batting, it didn't turn much and once our ball got older it didn't seam much so I think it's going to hold together pretty well," Hazlewood said.

 "The next 10 wickets that we need will be quite tough to get."