New Zealand v Australia, 1st Test, Wellington, 5th day March 23, 2010

'Tough week' for umpire review system

The Umpire Decision Review System can't win this week. It's not being used in Dhaka, which has angered Bangladesh's captain, while in Wellington the New Zealanders have been unhappy with what they believed was inconsistent application of the technology in their loss to Australia.

The problems began when New Zealand's first innings ended with the caught-behind of Tim Southee, who swung wildly at Mitchell Johnson and immediately appealed the umpire's out decision. The replays showed no indication that Southee had hit the ball, but nor was there any hard evidence that he had missed it, and the upholding of the decision prompted Daniel Vettori to visit the match referee Javagal Srinath soon afterwards.

"I don't want it to be seen as sour grapes, because it wasn't the reason we lost the game, but it has been a tough week for technology," Vettori said after the match. "The caught behind of Tim Southee, I just needed some clarification. I thought there was clear daylight between bat and ball and wondered why the decision was given.

"Srinath told me that unless there's absolutely conclusive evidence to say that it's not out they'll go with the on-field umpires' decision. We had a discussion around that. It's your take on what's conclusive and what's not. For us, being on the emotional side of it, we felt that it was conclusive one way. I understand the logic of the umpires, but it makes it difficult to take at times."

The review process was played out on the big screen at the Basin Reserve, which Vettori believes might put extra pressure on the umpires. The UDRS was in the thick of the action again on the fourth day when the extreme wind meant the hi-tech cameras were too unstable to be relied upon, but despite the issues Vettori said he still supported the system.

"This is the first time we've had a bad run with it in terms of the inconsistency of the decision-making," he said. "It worked badly for both teams. Yesterday Australia weren't able to use the referral system because the technology wasn't ready. So it's been a tough week and it shows there's still a lot of work to do. But I think generally I support it."

Ricky Ponting had long and protracted discussions with the umpires while the wind situation was explained to him after Australia appealed for an lbw only to be told the tracking system was unavailable. He said while nothing could be done about the conditions, the communication from the match officials could have been better, although he was mostly only worried about whether he would lose his review for being unsuccessful.

"I could understand if it wasn't working," Ponting said. "The only thing that disappointed me was that I didn't know about it, I didn't know it was off at one end and being used at the other. I'd spoken to the referee at lunchtime and he told me it was still working fine but it was going to take a little bit longer to get the information through.

"All the discussions I had with the umpires yesterday was about making sure we didn't lose a review. I didn't want to lose one if there was no technology to be had. I'm not disappointed at all in the system. They are getting more decisions right and it has to be good for the game."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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