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

England 'messed up' - Swann

Andrew McGlashan at Centurion

December 16, 2009

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Graeme Swann admitted England had "messed it up" with their use of the review system while Ashwell Prince, who earned a reprieve through the technology, said he was the one South African player not in favour of the process.

The most controversial moment for the enhanced decision review system (DRS), on the opening day at Centurion Park, came when AB de Villiers swept at Swann and England were adamant that he had under-edged the ball to Matt Prior. Steve Davis, the Australian umpire, thought otherwise leaving Swann and Prior to immediately signalled for a review.

The replays were inconclusive and with the absence of Hotspot for this series - due to the lack of cameras and a cash-strapped host broadcaster - the TV umpire, Amiesh Saheba from India, was quite right to say the decision couldn't be overturned even though it left England fuming.

It didn't cost the visitors any runs as de Villiers soon fell to Swann without adding to his 32, but it meant they had no reviews left having earlier wasted their first one. James Anderson thought he'd trapped Jacques Kallis leg before on 35 but he was marginally outside the line of off stump, the type of decision the system isn't designed for.

"We keep messing it up - we've got to get better at it," Swann said. "We had a quick confab over the lbw and we all thought it had to be out - but it wasn't.

"Then the caught-behind, we all knew it was out and the system said it wasn't. We said 'we're not going to call for caught-behinds unless we're certain'. Everyone round the bat was certain, so we called for it.

"But the system as it is, without the 'snicko' and whatever the thermo sensor is called, was inconclusive - so once again, we've wasted them."

South Africa also benefited when they asked for a review as Prince was granted a reprieve after being given out lbw to Graham Onions on 19. Davis was again the on-field umpire involved and this time the TV evidence clearly showed the ball heading over the stumps so Saheba had easy advice to offer his colleague.

"I didn't think I was out," Prince said. "I knew the ball struck me quite high. I've got brand new pads and I looked down and saw a mark well above the knee roll. I knew I was a little off the ground as well and Hashim confirmed that with me and we went for the appeal.

However, Prince said he wasn't in favour of the system and believes cricket should remain how it has always been played. "I've benefited today but yesterday when we discussed it in the team meeting I was the only player who said he'd prefer not to have it. So it's ironic that it benefited me. It's still up for debate, it's still early stages. I'm comfortable either way.

"It's a personal preference. I just feel cricket has been played for years and umpires make mistakes. I feel sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth."

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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