MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Cricket's decision review system was further dragged through the mire on Thursday after another controversial decision in the third Ashes test with the irate Australian board and even Prime Minister Kevin Rudd weighing in.
Usman Khawaja was adjudged by umpire Tony Hill to have edged spinner Graeme Swann to wicketkeeper Matt Prior for one after a vigorous appeal but the batsman asked for the decision to be reviewed following a discussion with non-striker Chris Rogers.
Third umpire Kumar Dharmasena spent a long time checking hot spot and television replays but decided to stick with the on-field umpire's decision despite no convincing evidence of a nick off the bat.
"Cricket Australia has sought an explanation from the ICC on the dismissal of Usman Khawaja. In our view, the on-field decision and referred decision using DRS were both incorrect," Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said in a statement.
"CA remains a strong supporter of DRS. However, in this instance, on behalf of the player, the team and all cricket fans, we feel duty bound to seek further explanation as to how this decision was arrived at."
Australia rallied from the disappointment to score 303 for three on day one with captain Michael Clarke scoring an unbeaten 125 and Steve Smith 70 not out but the hurt remained.
"I've just sat down to watch the test. That was one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen," Australia PM Rudd tweeted.
The first two tests, won by England, were riddled with DRS disputes with pundits feeling the third umpire was often too eager to overturn the decision of the men in the middle.
The opposite was true at Old Trafford on Thursday with the umpire getting the benefit of the doubt rather than the batsman, leading to anger and confusion from the Australians, who have felt aggrieved by several decisions this series.
Rudd may well have been referring to Hill's original decision of out, with rulings by on-field officials being bones of contention ever since the day the game was born.
DRS was introduced to cut down on those controversies but is currently causing more consternation than it is avoiding and is hurting the authority of the on-field umpires.
"That is a ridiculous decision by both the on and off field umpires. DRS creating yet more controversy. Any wonder players don't walk," said ex-England captain Alec Stewart.
Australia great Shane Warne added: "Absolute shocking and ridiculous decision by umpire and then DRS."
India refuse to allow DRS because of unhappiness with the accuracy of the technology but the International Cricket Council is adamant that the system is helping get more decisions right.
The difficulty for the ICC with Khawaja is that had Hill given him not out and England had reviewed, Dharmasena may have again sided with his colleague and upheld the not out given there was no clear reason to overturn the decision.
DRS's use when judging edges has been the big problem this series with its reliability on lbws generally good.
However, England might have felt hard done by when a review against an lbw not-out for Smith stayed with the umpire's call after Hawkeye showed less than half the ball was hitting leg.
England were then sure Smith had edged James Anderson behind but wasted their last review a la Australia this series with no nick detected, which was crucial when Smith was plumb lbw to Stuart Broad but beleaguered New Zealander Hill said not out.
"We've got to accept the decision. We respect the officials," England bowler Tim Bresnan told a news conference.
Editing by Ken Ferris