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Vernon Philander's glove Published: 05 March 2014

Australia wait for the decision to be made
Australia wait for the decision to be made

Vernon Philander's right batting glove formed the centre of a cricket storm when he was handed a reprieve during the thrilling finale to the third South Africa v Australia Test in Cape Town.

Philander was reinstated on review after being caught at short leg off a brutal Mitchell Johnson bouncer, which struck his glove before crashing into his helmet and being taken by Steve Smith.

With the series in the balance and reviews remaining, Philander chanced his arm and called for the third umpire.

Reviews however suggested that the decision was closer than it first looked. While there was no doubt that the ball had made contact with his glove, the third umpire, Richard Illingworth, overturned the decision.

Illingworth concluded that there had been no contact between the ball and "any part of a glove worn on the batsman’s hand holding the bat," as is stated in Law 6.8 (iii).

The crucial element to analyse is the interpretation of the word 'holding'. 

MCC has defined this further in Tom Smith's Umpiring and Scoring as: "To be holding the bat, the batsman has to have some part of a glove he is wearing, or his bare hand, in contact with the bat."

Illingworth therefore made his decision believing that Philander's bottom hand was completely detached from the bat handle at the point when the contact was made.

At such a crucial position in the Test, with South Africa looking like pulling off an unlikely draw and preventing Australia from winning the series.

However, Australia went on to wrap-up a famous win - but the incident evoked memories of arguably the finest Test match of all time, played at Edgbaston in 2005.

There, with Australia just two runs away from what had seemed an almost impossible victory, a Steve Harmison bouncer caught Michael Kasprowicz's glove to hand England the win.

Replays showed that Kasprowicz had in fact made contact with the ball with his hand not touching the bat - but in the days before the Decision Review System, England secured victory on the way to regaining the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.


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