South Africa v England, 1st Test, Centurion, 1st day

Referrals, withdrawals, and KP looks for love

Andrew McGlashan presents the Plays of the day from the first day's action at Centurion

Andrew McGlashan in Centurion

December 16, 2009

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James Anderson and Andrew Strauss debate the use of the umpiring review, South Africa v England, 1st Test, Centurion, December 16, 2009
England take the plunge and go for the referral ... but it was a waste of a valuable resource © PA Photos
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Late withdrawal
In the build-up to this Test, most of the injury talk around the South African camp was concerning Jacques Kallis and his rib. Dale Steyn's hamstring problem had kept him out of the latter one-dayers, but he was going to be fit - not much to worry about there, surely? Wrong. On the morning of the game he felt tightness in his leg and the medical staff weren't convinced he would get through the full five days. So, with little more than half-an-hour's notice, Friedel de Wet was handed his international debut. At 29, de Wet is a late developer but he now has the chance to live up to some encouraging remarks from Mike Procter, the convenor of selectors. Still, Steyn's shoes are big ones to fill.

Smart Strauss…
"It helps having experience," Andrew Strauss said about the umpire review system. Initially he made some wise decisions about not calling the system into use, when Graham Onions had two loud shouts against Hashim Amla turned down. Both were proven to be too high - not extravagantly so, but enough to ensure the the on-field call would certainly have been upheld - and Strauss's judgment was shown to be spot-on, even if Onions needed a little convincing.

…not so smart Strauss
Then, however, the England captain couldn't resist any longer. James Anderson had a big leg-before shout turned down against Jacques Kallis, and after a lengthy discussion between Strauss and Anderson, the review was called in. It always looked an unwise move because Kallis's stride meant there was a strong chance he was outside the line. And so the replay proved (plus, there was also a hint of inside-edge) and England had lost one their reviews. It ought to have been a salutory lesson to Strauss - never trust a bowler's instinct.

Swann's turn
Ashwell Prince had been a beneficiary of the review system when, on 19, he correctly challenged his lbw decision after being given out by Steve Davis. The TV evidence showed the entire ball was heading over the stumps so the decision was overturned and Prince survived. It looked as though he would make England pay, at his own sedate pace, but after repelling the pace attack for 93 deliveries, he pushed forward at Graeme Swann's second ball and provided a low edge to first slip. As Prince trudged off, Swann had once again shown his knack for making things happen.

What technology?
The latest incarnation of the review system is meant to make use of all the latest technology, but in this series it doesn't. There is no HotSpot available as there are only four such cameras in the world and they are in Australia and New Zealand - much to England's chagrin. Swann and Matt Prior were convinced AB de Villiers had got an under-edge on a sweep but Davis said not-out. They called for a review instantly, but the replays were - once again - inconclusive, while there was also no snickometer on view. The decision therefore stood although, given the recent evidence from Australia, it is debatable how much help HotSpot would have been.

Searching for the love
Kevin Pietersen wants to be loved - he really does - even by the people who still greet him with boos when he walks out to bat. While fielding on the boundary he made sure he could sign a few autographs between balls or overs to keep the fans happy. And did it buy him some love? Not really. When he dived over a ball at cover and conceded a boundary, the home supporters didn't hide their glee. Keep trying KP.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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