DRS March 16, 2011

England's dew karma

You can’t do a sprinkler dance without some precipitation-related payback eventually

Saturday, 12th March On Friday in Chittagong, we witnessed two well-documented natural phenomena: the early-evening accumulation of condensed water droplets, and Englishmen complaining about the weather. At the post-defeat debrief, Mr Strauss and Mr Swann sounded like marine commandos returning from some dangerous amphibious operation, rather than sportsmen who’d had to play cricket on a bit of damp grass.

Their repeated use of the word “dew” in close proximity to the word “defeat” was, by the way, entirely coincidental. Let’s be clear: in no way were they blaming this dew-soaked defeat on the prevailing dampness that made it impossible to grip the ball or bowl straight. They were not suggesting, as some might, that this was a debacle borne of dew, a dew-induced lottery or a dewy farce; a dew-feat, if you will.

But it was karma. Mr Swann has spent the winter choreographing a surprisingly irritating dance modelled on a device employed for the purpose of distributing water onto grass. So the cricket gods have devised for him a fitting torment: to spend eternity bowling at tailenders with a ball that is never quite dry, no matter how many times he swears at it or wipes it with his special handkerchief.

Sunday, 13th March The Kochi Tuskers Kerala is not just the first half of a high-quality tongue-twister, it is the newest name in the Twenty20 menagerie; an exciting new attraction occupying an enclosure next to the Matabeleland Tuskers and just around the corner from the Faisalabad Ferrets and the Adelaide Anteaters. If domestic leagues continue to expand at the current rate, scientists estimate that within a decade every animal species on the planet will have a Twenty20 team named after it.

Monday, 14th March For many years the test of a true cricket lover was the ability to explain to an outsider the rules concerning leg before wicket. And if you could get to the end before the person you were talking to passed out, you could feel justifiably pleased with yourself. Mastering the intricacies of this particular corner of cricket’s rule book was tricky, but achievable, with a little dedication and the occasional diagram.

But how would you fare if, in the course of your attempt to convert the non-cricket lover, you were asked to explain the DRS system? Even if you felt confident in your grasp of all the intricacies (and as far as I can tell, Simon Taufel is the only human being who can say that) I fear your conversational partner would expire through old age long before you even got onto the thorny subject of the 2.5 metre rule.

And DRS is having some unpleasant side effects. Players used to put up with the occasional howler out of respect for the doctrine of Umpiring Infallibility. But not any more. Thanks to DRS, the on-field umpire’s decision is no longer final. Last week, MS Dhoni was having a grumble; today the Irish captain has been fined. They may be right, they may be wrong. Who cares? Once players think they can get away with whingeing about decisions, they’ll never stop. Our game will descend into chaos. Or worse, it’ll be like Premier League football.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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