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July 16, 2013
Decision referrals should be taken out of the hands of players and left as a tool of international umpires, Australia's vice-captain Brad Haddin believes. A central and heroic figure in the closing passage of the Trent Bridge Test, Haddin also admitted he knew he had hit the ball that ended the match, and had no problem at all with Stuart Broad's decision not to walk after a much thicker edge on the third evening.
The drawbacks of a review system used by the players became clear at Trent Bridge, as the one most obvious errors was left to have a huge bearing on the result while a string of other more marginal calls were debated over due to the players' instincts to review anything they thought was out. As wicketkeeper, Haddin was a key man in Australia's flawed use of the system during the match, and said it was a consistent challenge to take emotion out of decision referrals.
"I personally think the umpires might as well use the reviews. I don't think they need to be in the players' hands, to be honest," Haddin said. "I see nothing wrong with what Stuart did. The umpire is there to make the decision and he has seen it different to everyone else.
"That's what the system was brought in for, the howler. The system is the same for both teams, we just haven't used it very well. That's the bottom line. We have to take emotion out of the decision and go on what we see. If you think it's out, challenge it. We obviously got it wrong this Test but it might be different next Test."
Haddin's views on the use of the system mirror those of the former umpire Daryl Harper, who said decisions should be left with the appointed decision-makers rather than turned into a tactical device by the players. "If this current system is the best we can come up with then something is wrong," Harper told The Advertiser. "If the reviews were taken out of the players' hands and given to the umpires then eventually the stronger performing umpires would emerge and be identified by the lesser number of reviewed decisions.
"In the third umpire's chair, a full time television umpiring analyst would act swiftly and without fear or favour. That is what the umpires wanted in the first place, five years ago. Once Australia frittered its reviews away with poor judgment, then the door was opened for a howler and Stuart Broad's non-dismissal was a howler."
Broad's reprieve was a telling moment of a great match, but so too was Haddin's innings on the final day, when he guided the tail to within 15 runs of victory before succumbing to the thinnest of edges behind from the bowling of James Anderson. Haddin made a calculated attack on Steven Finn, and said Australia had to do their best to tire Anderson, taking advantage of the fact that England rely on him so much more than any other bowler.
"Obviously Jimmy was the difference. He was at you the whole time. I had the opportunity when Finn came on to force the game a little bit," Haddin said. "I had the feeling England didn't really want to bowl him. I was always going to go then and see where it got to, see if they could bring Jimmy back quicker than they wanted to. In the end it worked against me, he got me in the end.
"He has shown over a long period of time that he has got a pretty big engine. It's obvious he is the one we've got to work through. He bowled extremely well in difficult conditions for fast bowlers. It's important to get him bowling a lot of overs. My mindset was to take the game to Finn because I had the feel England didn't really want to bowl him when the pressure was on."
Australia's response to pressure was variable across the match, but Haddin's innings reflected a fearless approach first taken by the 19-year-old debutant Ashton Agar. "He was pretty relaxed actually, bulletproof. A 19-year-old kid playing in his first Test match with no fear," Haddin said. "Whether he understood the enormity of the situation he just watched the ball, blocked the ones on the stumps and hit the ones off the stumps. He was just enjoying the whole time. He showed us how to play, he didn't play on reputation, he just played on watch the ball and hit it.
"He's a pretty intelligent kid, he knows what he's trying to do with the ball and the bat. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the second Test after all the emotion of your first Test."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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