India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 4th day December 16, 2012

India dissent ensures DRS issue rages on

An absence of technology available to everybody but the umpires is undermining the credibility of the sport

A few weeks ago, N Srinivasan, the president of the BCCI gave an interview to ESPNcricinfo where he justified the India's refusal to accept DRS partially on the basis that it eroded the authority of the umpire.

"If you don't have faith in the umpire - which itself is a contradiction, as in cricket the umpire's verdict is final - if a player shows dissent you fine him," he said. "But now you're saying that I have two attempts to question the umpire's decision."

So it must have been as disturbing for him, as for everyone else, to see several members of the Indian team showing clear dissent after Jonathan Trott was given not out following an appeal for a catch at the wicket off the bowling of Ishant Sharma.

While some disappointment was understandable - it was a crucial moment in the match - the length of the questioning and complaint exceeded the acceptable. Virat Kohli, who was not in a position to have a clear view of the incident, can count himself very fortunate if he keeps his entire match fee. MS Dhoni may also want to reflect on his reaction.

It matters little that replays suggested the umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, was correct. Even if he had been wrong, his decision still had to be accepted. Just as it was when Alastair Cook was given out incorrectly for the second time in the match earlier in the day. There can be no place for surrounding an opposition player or arguing with an umpire.

There have been times in this series when England have been no better. Appeals have been prolonged far after the umpire has given his verdict and the willingness to question issues with the match referee is unsettling. The players of both teams have to realise that, whether they like it or not, they are role models. The behaviour we see on the pitch today will be mirrored in playgrounds and parks tomorrow. Their privileged position comes with responsibility.

The frustrating part of this is that it is an easily avoidable problem. Had the BCCI allowed the use of DRS in this series - as the ICC's cricket committee recommended - all such issues could be resolved in an instant. The DRS system may not be perfect: the number of reviews may be wrong; the technology may not be perfect and human error will still be a factor. But it is a step in the right direction. To refuse it on the grounds that it is not perfect is like abandoning a seat belt because it cannot be guaranteed to save you.

The final blow in an engaging encounter may well have been struck by Trott. Had he fallen early England might well have subsided as they did at The Oval and Abu Dhabi.

Had DRS been in place, England could have reviewed the Cook decision; India could have reviewed the Trott decision and the decision that saw Cheteshwar Pujara incorrectly dismissed earlier in the game. There would have been no need for further debate as the system would have provided a procedure for resolution. To allow television viewers around the world access to information that is denied to umpires is perverse and the fourth day of this game proved once again that it has to change. Basic errors and the subsequent frustration of players undermines the credibility of the sport.

In the close of play press conference, R Ashwin defended his team's anger by suggesting that Trott had, in some unexplained way, acted inappropriately by striking a no-ball from Ravindra Jadeja to the boundary. The delivery rolled along the floor and finished somewhere around short-leg. The Laws are clear on the issue: Trott had every right to hit the ball. When bowlers start complaining about poor balls being hit for four, you know they are struggling.

Perhaps such incidents were simply the last twitches of a team that knows the jig is up. India, who have fought valiantly in this match, need something approaching a miracle on the last day of the series to preserve their proud unbeaten home series record that stretches back to 2004. And perhaps one or two of the team know that defeat may bring a rude awakening to their world that has become all too cosy and complacent over recent years. Defeat - and the subsequent end to the culture of hubris and denial - may be the best thing that could happen to India.

The shame is that such issues overshadowed a keenly contested series. The final blow in an engaging encounter may well have been struck by Trott. Had he fallen early in this innings - and a declined leg before appeal when he had 7 might have been overturned had DRS been in place - England might well have subsided as they did at The Oval and Abu Dhabi.

But, in partnership with his admirably solid Warwickshire team-mate Ian Bell, Trott held firm. Unlike his colleagues, he took a guardedly aggressive approach - he has the highest strike-rate of any of the top seven on either side to have made more than 30 - and attacked and defended positively.

Cook, for all his excellence in this series, struggled to find the right balance. Having flourished in previous games through using his feet and the sweep, here he was almost statuesque. He faced 121 balls for his 14 runs in the match and appeared to have regressed to the approach that served England so poorly in the UAE.

India's attempts to verbally unsettle Trott backfired. Of all England's players, Trott is the least likely to crumble under such pressure. Indeed, it seems to heighten his competitive edge. He has often reserved his best for such moments: such as his debut at The Oval in 2009 or his century against Pakistan at Lord's in 2010.

By his standards, Trott has not enjoyed a great year. While his average in 2012 - 37.12 - is hardly disastrous, he has made only one century, in a losing cause in Galle, and has failed to convert several good starts. Some, including former England coach David Lloyd, were even calling for him to be dropped.

But this England side was not built on the fickle mood swings that blighted earlier teams. In Trott they have a technically sound, temperamentally solid batsman that has filled a No. 3 role that had proved problematic for years. A reminder of his qualities should hardly have been required, but this performance should have provided one.

England's work is not yet completed. But, on a pitch that remains slow and unhelpful to bowlers, England are three hours of solid batting away from clinching as impressive a series victory as any they have achieved in many, many years.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    Well written. Have to say that the umpiring from Dharmasena was awfully poor, still wondering how he got the umpire of the year. But nevertheless, India needs to accept the DRS and make it mandatory for Test matches. Yes, 4 years ago vs SL, the DRS completely backfired on India, but now things are different. Technology has improved and better decisions are made. Our first step as a nation in a crisis is to accept the DRS, then everything else.

  • KISH on December 18, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    Very well written article. India's fortune in the overseas tours (even the last Australian and England tours) would have been different had they allowed the use of DRS. With the strong Batting line-up India had for so many years, India couldn't manage many series wins overseas. This was mainly because of umpiring errors. Because, out of 4-5 star batsmen India had, if at least two of them clicks in every match, they would have been very hard to beat. But, what happens was, every time they have some partnership going, one of them will be given wrongly by the umpire and thereby kills the chance of any fight back like what they achieved in Kolkatta 2001. Also, the Indian bowlers like Kumble and Agarkar suffered a lot too. So, if there was any team who should have been praying to the heavens for a system to question the umpires, it should have been India. It is very frustrating to see that very team denying themselves when such a system is available.

  • t on December 18, 2012, 2:30 GMT

    "There have been times in this series when England have been no better" this article states. yes, but those didnt warrant a whole article by mr. George Dobell. for example i would've liked to see a whole article on how trott claimed a catch that was so obviously grassed or how anderson very deliberately shouldered pujara when he was standing at the non-strikers end. the laws were also very clear when it came to the ian bell run out that was (unnecessarily i think) withdrawn by the indians in 2011 but then the "spirit of cricket" had to take precedence but not here coz england after all is the embodiment of it. if india was in the position that ICC XI were in this match on the 5th day & had batted on as they did then the media/fans would have roundly criticised them for "killing test cricket"/"being ultra defensive/not sporty" but since it was Eng not a peep has been said about their tactics. cricinfo/dobell your bias is showing. lets see if you'll are even fair enough to publish this.

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2012, 16:40 GMT

    'disturbing'? are you kidding?? take it easy George Dobell, things like these happen in cricket. don't be so sensitive... oh by the way, Trott is not a saint himself. stop complaining...

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    serves india right .. these guys deserve this

  • Warren on December 17, 2012, 11:48 GMT

    Having been involved in the DRS for over 3 years now as the inventor of the Hot Spot system my gut feeling is......there is more chance of the Americans changing their gun controls laws than the BCCI changing their minds on DRS.

  • Sharon on December 17, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    @gsingh7 on (December 17 2012, 11:10 AM GMT) Yooo! SMART MOVE! Let India abolish test cricket in India because India lose home series. Real mature thinking there dude. Bet you were not saying this when India were "world number 1" in Test cricket 18 month ago!

  • Don on December 17, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    @ Big_Poppa_94 you say nobody gives a crap about test cricket, well lots of Indian fans did before England started this series judging by the myriad of comments on Cricinfo saying England would be thumped 4-0 & all of a sudden now we have won test cricket doesn't matter............well it does to the 'proper' fans of the game but I guess you can't comprehend the difference in skill levels to play the longer format, enjoy your synthetic cricket & if tests are of no importance to you what are you doing commenting here?

  • Nasser on December 17, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    What does Srinivisan know about cricket? He is only the head of BCCI and probably prefers bullock carts to cars. Nothing is perfect in this world, and neither is DRS. If it is accepted, in fact embraced, by other cricketing nations, then it must be a good thing. DRS has reduced controversies dramatically. Umpires feel less pressured because even if their decisions are wrong, usually they will be immediately corrected. This does not make them bad umpires either as they have not used technology as the third umpire has, and anyone watching the game on tv can see the incident in slow motion and various angles. India needs to sort out its IPL otherwise they will no longer be considered good cricketers as limited overs cricket is not only not real cricket but also it reduces the capabilities and hence performance of stronger teams due to the various restrictions. As a Pakistani supporter, real cricket is test and first class cricket. Limited overs cricket is just a bit of fun, nothing more.

  • gurinder on December 17, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    icc should leave out this test cricket business as no one in this age have time for 5 days, bcci should abolish all test cric in india and should only promote t20 cric also we need better curators here and not arrogant ones like at eden gardens, sack them now, bcci should use their superiority in dollars to convert in making cricket more favourable to indian fans, we indians demand more from bcci to use their resources to play more home games as its our best bet to return to summit of world cricket, now world champions need to whitewash poms to avenge this loss in odis like last time, amen

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