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November 27, 2009
The fourth day's play between New Zealand and Pakistan in Dunedin revealed a minor loophole in the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), making its official debut in this Test. When Mohammad Asif challenged Billy Doctrove's decision - in favour of Grant Elliott - the replays showed that while the batsman was plumb lbw, Asif had marginally overstepped. It would have been a successful challenge but for the no-ball that was originally missed by Doctrove. Yet it ended up costing Pakistan a run and, more importantly, it counted as an unsuccessful challenge.
It raised the question of whether the bowling side should be expected to keep an eye on no-balls, or actually be penalised for having missed one. The ICC's regulations remain silent on the issue. A guide to the system circulated several days ago by the ICC offered this: "If the original decision of 'out' is upheld but for a different method of dismissal than the on-field umpire originally intended, then the review will still be regarded as being unsuccessful." But it doesn't advise on cases when the original decision of "not-out" is upheld for reasons other than originally intended by the on-field umpire.
The ICC's Umpires and Referees Manager Doug Cowie admitted a solution for the blip had yet to be found. "We'll look into that one," Cowie was quoted as saying in the Dominion Post "It might be one of the things we fine tune when we look into the whole business later on.
"We did explore that idea about what happens in a no-ball situation. It's an interesting one, but I don't know how you get around it."
When contacted after Friday's incident, Dave Richardson, the ICC's cricket operations manager, said it was not a loophole but an issue that needs sorting before every series. "It was something that was not covered specifically in the playing conditions. But I know that in the Australia series it was decided beforehand if that happens [a no-ball which is initially overlooked], the fielding team would not lose out on a review. Obviously in the New Zealand series they haven't decided, and now they can't introduce it in the middle of the play."
The umpires followed the book in New Zealand, and Doug Cowie, the ICC's umpires manager, said that the final decision remained not-out so it is counted as unsuccessful.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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