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An absence of technology available to everybody but the umpires is undermining the credibility of the sport
George Dobell in Nagpur
December 16, 2012
Report : Trott, Bell edge England towards safety and series
Matches: India v England at Nagpur
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala