Flower questions UDRS benefits
England's coach, Andy Flower, finds some aspects of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) "illogical" and isn't a supporter of the ICC initiative that was a focal point of the opening Test against South Africa at Centurion Park.
England did not enjoy much success in their use of the system, with all four of their bowling referrals turned down. That disappointment was compounded, however, when Kevin Pietersen was bowled by Morne Morkel off in the first innings, off what appeared to be a no-ball. With that in mind, Flower argued that if technology was going to be used, it should check the foot position of the bowler every time.
"I'm not a policy-maker and my ideas don't count that much, but I don't really like the questioning of the umpires by the players," he told reporters in Durban. "I think there are also some illogical things about it. We have the technology to review no-balls every ball and we don't use it."
The two most controversial moments came when England asked for a review of a caught-behind appeal against AB de Villiers in the first innings, but technology couldn't detect what the players had believed to be an audible nick, then when Stuart Broad questioned the length of time South Africa had taken to refer JP Duminy's lbw appeal to the third umpire.
Upon being given out, Broad marched over to the on-field umpires, Steve Davis and Aleem Dar, and later went to visit the match referee, Roshan Mahanama, although no charges were brought against him. England have also raised the issue over the time taken between South Africa's appeal and the TV umpire's intervention.
"We spoke to Roshan Mahanama about it and there is no clear indication over how much time it should take," Flower said. "It's not 20 or 30 seconds, but they do just want a brief exchange of views and then a decision made.
"I personally don't like it much to be honest, but it looks as though it's here to stay and certainly is for this series, so there's no point us grumbling about it. We just have to get on with it and make sure we deal with it."
While the review system doesn't have Flower's backing, the under-pressure pair of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell certainly do. He believes both men can bounce back from their twin failures at Centurion Park. Cook made scores of 15 and 12 having spent a lot of time in the latter part of the 2009 season working on his technique, while Bell managed seven runs in two innings, and was embarrassingly bowled when not offering a shot to Paul Harris.
"Belly got some runs in the pre-tour games and I think he is feeling quite confident about the way he is playing," Flower said. "He had a tough Test, of course. He made a misjudgement in the first innings and got nicked off in the second but he's a high quality player and we are backing him. I think he will be fine.
"Cooky scored runs for the Performance Squad up in Johannesburg then scored some runs in East London," he added. "He's had a tough Test and it was a tough Test for anyone against the new ball. He's remodelled a few things but he is a strong young man, a very fine player and a leader in his own right. I think he is going to do good things for us this series."
Despite the batting problems, including the late collapse of 5 for 13, the series is still all-square and Flower was breathing a sigh of relief after the outcome. "Of course we are relieved that, after losing those wickets against the last new ball, we got out of it," he said.
"We always knew the second new ball was going to be a testing period, although we obviously didn't think we would lose that many wickets. But we did well to fight back and hang on."
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo