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Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 5th day
Ian Chappell: 'India let Australia off the hook'
January 6, 2008
Umpiring errors aside, India should have batted for the 70-odd overs and saved the game
 
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Ian Chappell: "I don't believe that an umpire should be asking a player whether a catch is clean or not. I think that was a major mistake" © Getty Images

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk and as always I have with me former captain of Australia, Ian Chappell, to look back on an exciting and sometimes controversial Sydney Test.

Ian, before we talk about the umpiring controversies that marred this Test, it will be fair to say that we saw an excellent game of cricket. The curator must be commended for preparing a pitch that had something in it for everyone right till the end.

Ian Chappell: Yes, that's been the nature of the Sydney Cricket Ground apart from a period of about 10 to 15 years when it was a pretty poor cricket wicket. But certainly in the time I have played and since the time Tom Parker [the curator] has been here, it's been getting back to being very good cricket wicket, with something in it for everyone. To get a result on the last day with about eight minutes left must be a curator's dream.

AR: Unfortunately this game will be marred by the umpiring controversies. Two crucial decisions against India in the second innings involving Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly could have affected the outcome of the game.

IC: Dravid's decision was a very poor one. His bat was well behind the pad and there's no way in the wide world the ball could have hit the bat. There were two really bad decisions in this game in my opinion: the Dravid one because of the reasons I have just mentioned and the one in the first innings involving Andrew Symonds. He was playing away from his body and there was a huge noise and I don't understand how he was given not out. When you compare the two decisions and think that it was the same umpire that gave both of them; how he can give Symonds not out and then Dravid out is just unbelievable.

I haven't seen any conclusive evidence as to whether the ball carried or not in the Ganguly dismissal. If it had been referred to the third umpire - I don't think catches should be referred anyway - I don't there would have been any doubt that Ganguly would have stayed there because it would have been inconclusive evidence.

But the problem that I had is with the umpire [Mark Benson] and what he did. What happened - and we spoke to Ricky Ponting after the game to confirm this - was that the umpire looked at him and asked him if the catch had been taken. I have a problem with that. The umpire should be looking to the square-leg umpire if he's not sure whether the ball carried or not. If the square-leg umpire isn't sure, then it's two umpires who aren't sure and I think the decision should be made on the field and in that case I would have said Ganguly stays. I have a personal experience of asking a player when I was playing whether he caught the ball or not and he just lied to me. I don't believe that an umpire should be asking a player [whether a catch is clean or not]. I think that was a major mistake.

AR: Technology hasn't worked in this game and neither has depending on a player's word. What should be the way forward?

IC: The authorities have got to be thinking of improving the standard of umpiring. There is this hue and cry about technology, but the first thing is that it isn't technology; there is a human hand involved. Secondly, I would ask the question: since when did television participate in the game and decide the fate of a batsmen or a game? It's not for television to do that. My big problem with referring decisions to the third umpire is that you are going to get justice for some but not for all. I don't have a problem if cricket authorities are investigating technology that will help umpires and if that works then it will be terrific.

AR: Ponting all but shut India out of the game, setting them a target of 333 and at one stage it would have seemed that he had been a bit too conservative, but his bowlers backed him up.

IC: Yes. It was a conservative declaration but it was done with a purpose, exactly as you pointed out: to make sure that India couldn't win the game. I think India let Australia off the hook. On that pitch, they should have been good enough to bat for the 70-odd overs that was required. The one thing that you know about the Australians is that they are relentless and persistent and they keep at you. That's why they are hard to beat. They way that Anil Kumble stayed out there and survived was an indication that India really should have got thorough that period of 70-odd overs without losing all ten wickets.

AR: You spoke about how crucial Brad Hogg's performance would be if Australia were to win this game. On a turning track, he didn't pick up a single wicket and instead it was the part-timers, Symonds and Michael Clarke who came to the party.

IC: Brad Hogg didn't bowl very well. He couldn't get the right length and most of the time he was too full. Then, when Ganguly came in, he played him extremely well. Symonds has really improved as an off-spinner. But despite the umpiring errors, India should have batted out because you had the part-time spinners taking six wickets between them.

Clarke was probably the ideal bowler in that situation because he was turning the ball away from the bat. He was bowling at tail-enders and they are generally told in that situation: go out there and make sure you get your pad in the way. And with the type of bowler that Clarke is, there is a chance that he can get you lbw doing that. The other thing about tail-enders is that they are never quite sure which ones they should be letting go and which ones they should playing.

And he has some other things in his favour: he tends to be a bit if a golden arm and pick up a wicket when you need it and particularly, he is a a bit of an Indian killer. He's got something like nine wickets for 49 in his career against India, so that made it a pretty good choice by Ponting.

AR: Australia now go to Perth hoping to break the record of most Test wins on the trot. They will fancy their chances there - do you see them making any changes?

IC: It will be a matter of whether they decide to play Shaun Tait or not. What might play in Tait's favour us the fact that Hogg did struggle on a pitch that helps spin, in Sydney. The Australian selectors might think: we've got enough spin bowling in Symonds and Clarke for Perth, let's play the extra pace bowler. By doing that they would weaken their batting line-up a little bit in that Hogg got some valuable runs in the first innings in Sydney. But when you are looking at winning a Test, you can't be thinking about the runs that you will get form your No. 8 batsman. This will depend a lot on what the pitch at Perth is like. But it won't surprise me if the Australians selectors decide to include Tait.

AR: Ian, you had said before the start of the series that India's best chance of winning a Test would be at Sydney. They had their moments but couldn't capitalise. What do you think they need to do to regroup?

 
 
The first thing that India need to do is go to Canberra and play the practice game as hard as they can. They have got to try and blow the opposition away.They should now know that you have to play 30 hours of very good cricket against Australia. If they do that they will themselves a chance of competing with Australia
 

IC: The first thing that they need to do is go to Canberra and play the practice game as hard as they can. They have got to try and blow the opposition away. There's no better way to jump on that plane to Perth than with a win under a belt because you would have had some guys who would have batted well and some who would have bowled well. They should now know that you have to play 30 hours of very good cricket against Australia. If they do that they will themselves a chance of competing with Australia.

I think that Wasim Jaffer has a technique that will struggle in Australia and that has proven to be the case. The problem is that this means that India will have to gamble with Virender Sehwag now and I thought they should have done it earlier in the series, when it was still open and he had a chance to set the pattern and give India a bit of a psychological advantage. He has got to play in Canberra and if he gets some runs, he comes into the side to open the batting. Dinesh Karthik also needs to be given an opportunity to see if he can open the batting. Yuvraj Singh is a major problem in the middle-order. The spin bowlers seem to worry him, although he played the quick bowlers quite well here in Sydney. They may consider him once more in Perth on the basis that he won't have to play a lot of spin but his position has got to be in doubt.

The other thing you need to have in Perth is a swing bowler to come into the wind. The Freemantle Doctor is pretty regular in Perth and I think you will perhaps find that India might choose to go in with three quickies and one spinner.

AR: Ian, thank you so much for your views. We will hear from you again during the Perth Test, for now it's goodbye.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist


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