Cowan calls for uniformity in DRS use
Ed Cowan has reiterated Australia's calls for a uniform approach to the Decision Review System on a day when he and Michael Hussey fell to decisions that would have been overturned had they been reviewed. As a Test debutant at the age of 29, Cowan has spent longer than most men watching the game from the outside, and he believes the ICC should take the lead on the DRS.
Cowan's call came after Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, had said before the match that he wanted consistency from the DRS, which the ICC mandated in Tests and ODIs earlier this year only to reverse the decision three months later. The BCCI's opposition to review technology meant that under the new rules, in which both boards must agree for the DRS to be used, the system was always going to be absent from this series.
Hussey was especially unfortunate to be given out first ball when umpire Marais Erasmus adjudged him caught behind, and replays showed Zaheer Khan's bouncer had clearly come off Hussey's sleeve. Later, Ian Gould gave Cowan out caught behind off R Ashwin, although Hot Spot showed no contact, and the batsman appeared to be surprised at the decision.
When asked if he hit the ball, Cowan said, "I was disappointed to get out, it was a bit of a lazy shot ... You saw the replays, you saw my reaction, you can join the dots I guess. With the DRS, I'm an interesting perspective because I've been a consumer of the game for so long; this is day one on the job for me.
"So as someone who loves his cricket and has watched a lot of cricket, I just don't understand why it can't be handed down by the ICC to be uniform in all games. And that's me speaking as an outsider, not as someone who has been in the bubble for a long time. It is an interesting one, we'll see how it pans out, I'm sure it'll even itself out over the course of the series."
Ricky Ponting, speaking to ABC radio, also called for uniformity. "I thought it was compulsory in every series we are going to play, but apparently not. As players you want uniformity around the world and consistency in the technology and things that you are using in the game. And it's just this one series against India that keeps poping up where we are not using the system. As players that's what we are after"
Those two dismissals, which took Australia from 4 for 205 to 6 for 214, gave India the advantage in the final session, although resistance from Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle later eased concerns for the hosts. Cowan said the loss of Hussey for a golden duck straight after the departure of Michael Clarke was pivotal in the day's play.
"It was a massive moment in the game, a huge moment," he said. "We'd just had a 100-run partnership [between Cowan and Ricky Ponting], wrestled back the momentum, almost a 50-run partnership [Cowan and Clarke]. We felt we were half an hour away from really nailing them, grinding them into the dust. We get through that Zaheer spell unscathed and it is a completely different complexion to the day's play.
"It's not an issue of DRS. It doesn't matter what cricket you play in, umpiring decisions always change momentum in the game. It doesn't matter whether it is an MCG Test match or me playing club cricket, that's the game - we all accept that. Today momentum went against us because of it, two of your top six, but that's the game and we'll take the good with the bad."
This series is the first time Australia have played Tests without the DRS since their last battle with India, away from home late last year. And while the decisions went against Australia today, Cowan said their final position was a good result at the end of a day on which batsmen had to knuckle down.
"I thought it was a really great day's cricket," Cowan said. "The bat had its moments, the ball had its moments, a good cricket wicket. If you bent your back and put it in a good spot you got something out of it. There was turn, there was bounce, but if you were good enough to play your shots, you could score runs. So it was great to see a good cricket wicket on day one. They bowled really well in patches. I thought we batted really well in patches and I think we've got our noses ahead."
That position came largely thanks to Cowan's level-headed innings of 68 on debut, an effort that showed the value of developing his technique on a difficult, green Hobart pitch over the past few seasons. He faced the first ball of the Test and while wickets fell at the other end, he stayed calm, a result of what he described as a lack of jitters.
"I was strangely not nervous, I can't explain why," Cowan said. "I was a little anxious when we won the toss and batted, but no more than we would've been if I was playing state cricket for Tasmania at Bellerive.
"Those nerves of wanting to contribute for the team upfront, it is my job to set the game up. I should've been a lot more nervous. I had to keep pinching myself to think, 'mate you should be more nervous here, more anxious', but being relaxed really helped me through it and it felt like another bat-on-ball contest."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo