The Investec Ashes 2013

Prior judgement keeps England lucky

George Dobell

July 16, 2013

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

Matt Prior made an attractive 31, England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day, July 12, 2013
Matt Prior scored only 32 runs in the first Test but his role extends far beyond batting and keeping © PA Photos
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On the face of things, it might seem Matt Prior endured a modest first Test of the Investec Ashes series. England's wicketkeeper performed ably with the gloves, but he scored only 32 runs in the match.

But Prior's role extends far beyond batting and keeping. He is also the key man when England utilise the DRS in the field and as such played a huge role in their victory.

It is no exaggeration to state that use of the DRS split the sides at Trent Bridge. While Australia squandered their reviews in moments of over-excitement and emotion, England demonstrated a little more calm and utilised the reviews far more effectively.

It was not just luck that resulted in England, having retained both their reviews, using one of them to clinch the final wicket of the match. It was not just luck that resulted in Australia squandering theirs so that Stuart Broad, on 37, survived a thick edge that umpire Aleem Dar failed to spot. Broad went on to make 65 and, in partnership with Ian Bell, took the game beyond Australia.

The earlier decision to call for a review against Jonny Bairstow when the ball was clearly heading down the leg side suddenly appeared rather reckless. "If I had used my reviews better then I would have had an opportunity to use it when there was a howler like that," Michael Clarke admitted afterwards.

For Prior, the key to making good reviews is to take the emotion out of the moment. While he admits that there were times, when the system was first introduced, England employed it in a speculative fashion, they now have a formula which is proving far more effective. And, so much does England captain, Alastair Cook, trust Prior's judgement on the issue that he has never overruled him.

"The mentality of it is very important," Prior said. "The biggest thing is keeping the emotion out of it and just trying to make as measured a decision as possible with what you have seen.

"We have a process now where the bowler, myself and Cooky will have a chat about what we have all seen. Every now and then someone square of the wicket may have an opinion about how high did the ball hit on the pad when there's an lbw and we go from there basically. Cook hasn't overruled me yet, but never say never. It is a responsibility, yes, but you want to make sure you get them right.

"When it first came in, players thought this was great because they thought they could burgle a wicket here and there. 'Let's just review it because it might be out.' That's not actually the point. DRS is to make sure that if a mistake has been made you have an opportunity to right it. Once you look at it you realise that with a lot of the lbws the right decision has been given. It has to be a blatantly obvious one before you actually review it."


England dismiss fresh ball-tampering claim

  • The ECB has dismissed claims in a section of the Australian media that any of their players were guilty of ball-tampering in the first Investec Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.
  • While the ECB admitted that Graeme Swann used a spray to dry his hands on the final day, a spokesman said that such sprays had been in use in international cricket for the best part of a decade, there was no Law or playing regulation against them and that their use had been checked with the MCC before hand.
  • Fraser Stewart, the MCC Laws manager, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the ECB had contacted him on Tuesday to discuss the situation.
  • "The Laws state that you cannot apply anything to the ball," Stewart said. "Clearly, however, there are any manner of products that can be put on your body - sun cream for example, or ice spray on a bruise - quite legitimately and the umpires have the authority to ensure that they are being utilised in the correct way and to act if they do not think they have been.
  • "It's necessary to exercise some common sense here: if you checked in scientific conditions you might sometimes find minuscule traces of sun cream, for example, on the ball quite unintentionally and you cannot really legislate for that."

It is interesting to contrast Prior's attitude to that of his Australia counterpart Brad Haddin. While Haddin agreed that it was important to take the emotion out of the decision, he had a less sophisticated attitude to the process as a whole.

"There's no hidden tactic to DRS," Haddin said. "You go on feel. If you think you can use it, use it. If not, don't. It's not actually a big thing, the DRS."

Haddin may need to review that attitude, because it was one of the factors that cost Australia the first Test.

Despite a couple of setbacks, Prior remained adamant about the positive impact of DRS on the game. While he suggested one potential improvement - sides not losing a review if they had only been denied by an 'umpire's call' verdict on DRS - he also felt the general impact on the game was overwhelmingly positive.

It is worth reflecting for a moment on the possible outcomes had DRS not been in operation in this match. Would the Broad decision have been different? No. He was given not out by the on-field umpire. Would Brad Haddin have been given out to the last ball of the game? No. He was given not out by the on-field umpire. The DRS could not be blamed for either error. Even the dismissal of Jonathan Trott, perhaps the most contentious DRS moment of the Test, was more the result of human errors - both the TV umpire Marais Erasmus' error and that of the Hot Spot operator - than a failure in the system.

That Haddin decision might be the most pertinent. Had the DRS not been in operation, the match might have been decided by an error. Hot Spot and audio evidence showed an edge and Haddin later admitted he had hit it.

Still, Prior did concede that the margins between success and failure could be tiny. After suggesting England utilise a review for a leg-before decision against Phil Hughes in Australia's second innings, Prior admitted he had more than a few second thoughts before the TV umpire and Hawk-Eye eventually vindicated his judgement.

"When I first saw the replay without Hawk-Eye I turned to Cooky and said 'sorry mate'," he said. "It just shows how these margins are so small."

Prior also confirmed, despite rumours to the contrary, that he was fully fit. "I'm absolutely fine," he said. "My Achilles feels better than it has done for a long time."

He also added that he has faith in Steven Finn despite a disappointing display at Trent Bridge. "Everyone can have a bad day or a bad game," Prior said. "That happens. But we expect Finny to come back stronger than ever and come steaming in bowling with good speed like we see in training. We know how good Steve is and we know he'll be coming back fine."

While Finn was trusted to bowl only 10 of the 110.5 overs in Australia's second innings, his Test record at Lord's - his home ground with Middlesex - where he has taken 29 wickets in five Tests at an average of 20.65, will surely count in his favour when it comes to selection.

The groundsman, Mike Hunt, said he had been given no instructions from the England camp as to what type of wicket to prepare. Certainly the pitch at Lord's does not look as dry as that used at Trent Bridge but it will remain a bat-first wicket for whichever side wins the toss.

In an attempt to retain some moisture, the groundstaff have kept a layer of grass on the pitch, which may help bowlers in the first hour of the game but, with the sun baking the outfield and several used wickets on the square, the ball will run quickly to the boundary and reverse swing is likely to play a part.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sarfin on (July 18, 2013, 8:59 GMT)

Wise words from Prior. Fully agreed with him. 'Umpire's Call' should not cost a team a review. If teams doesn't have to lose a review for 'umpire's call', then two reviews are enough. Prior just described the way to use DRS- control your emotion and use logic. DRS is not a burden, it's a responsibility which comes with professionalism. You're given a chance to alter a wrong verdict made by the umpire which will help your team. A wise and professional team should not try to avoid this opportunity rather than using it.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

@MightyHammer - Have to say that's a bizarre way to look at it. Surely , whatever way you look at it the Bairstow review was a total waste. Even if it was the best batsman of all time it was nowhere near being a wicket so was a bad review. Using a review on a marginal case is surely different from using a review on something which is never out

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2013, 7:08 GMT)

@jmcilhinney on (July 17, 2013, 7:44 GMT)/ Walton T Gooding on (July 17, 2013, 5:51 GMT) - Happen to agree with WTG on this one. I still agree with umpire's call but I don't think a bowling side should lose the review either. That's the one thing I'd change on the system

Posted by simpleguy2008 on (July 18, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

DRS has to be made compulsory by the ICC but unlimited reviews

Posted by RodStark on (July 17, 2013, 23:58 GMT)

I've posted on other threads and still believe that it would be better if NO ONE on the field could call for a review. The umpires should be required to make their best effort at a correct call. The third umpire could intervene if he thinks there's a chance (or perhaps better, a likelihood) that the on-field umpire got it wrong.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 17, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

The DRS did not win the game, a decision is made nothing is then predictable afterwards as the game has irrevicably changed, had a marginal LBW gone the other way could result in a completely different outcome in the game.

Saying the Broad decision would have swung the game to Aus is also like saying the Agar (very marginal) decision would have put Aus under significantly more pressure and relieved it from england as they had a 100 run lead, also the game would have changed irrevocably in that England would have been batting a lot sooner and in different conditions to the afternoon.

So aus may have pulled it back or england could have got away with a 300 run lead by the end of the day. Who knows. but we do not deal in what ifs we deal in What was, and England won.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 17, 2013, 16:03 GMT)

@symsun, thats just not workable, as teams will try and get a dangeous bowler to use his reviews, and after two failures they will know hes no longer able to bowl at them for the rest of the innings, thus taking the pressure off, what happens when they get rid of 2 bowlers using that method or 3 and the fielding team have to resort to batsmen to bowl?

I personally think 2 reviews per session is adequate, with no carry over to the next session.

Posted by MightyHammer on (July 17, 2013, 16:01 GMT)

@ R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (July 17, 2013, 12:31 GMT) That's exactly my point. Many people are saying that had Australia only used their reviews on certainties (like England did) then they would have had a review left when Broad nicked it and they would have got him out. The extra runs he scored would not have been scored and they would have won the game.

BUT, had they only used the reviews on certainties then they would not have used one against Trott and would not have got him out.....he would in all likelihood have scored more runs than Broad given that he is a better player and they would have lost by even more.

QED - the poor use of the reviews did not cost them the match, rather it made the scores closer.

Posted by symsun on (July 17, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

There should be No limit for DRS. Penalty runs is not good idea. If the bowling team fails in DRS, reduce their match fees for each failure. If fails twice of the same bowler, then the bowler should not be allowed to bowl further in the innings. And if the batsman fails in DRS, reduce teams match fee for each failure and obviously he is going to walk out. Justice should not be prevented for next coming batsman or bowler by keeping limits.

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (July 17, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

anyone whingeing abt DRS is clutching at straws whilst holding a large glass of sour grapes... the %age of correct decisions is well up since the introduction of DRS and so to argue against it is to be a numpty luddite... a batsman hitting the cover off it and the bowler still appealing (twice in patto's case) is pretty wasteful... its like clark eating his packed lunch at 10am, and then come lunch time guess what clarky,. no lunch mate... tough luck... its not that hard to work out is it? and trotty sawn off for 0 was a much bigger blow to Eng than broady's not out was to aussie... move on, it's 1-0, close but no cigar

Posted by   on (July 17, 2013, 14:41 GMT)

Restriction of 2 reviews an innings is a blunder, in my opinion...because umpires mistakes after two unsuccessful reviews will be going in favour of the ineligible one...be batsman or bowler....again teams will be reluctant to take the review...as same as in the case of Broad....as they don't want to risk it...so I believe that the technology has to be used for the maximum benefit and should be given unlimited DRS....

Posted by   on (July 17, 2013, 14:24 GMT)

I would like to see one change. Anything that is in the zone of "umpires call" should be considered as doubt to the batsman. The reviewing team should still lose it if they review. The doubt on a call should not be going to the umpire it should be going to the active participant, the batsman.

Posted by ravi_hari on (July 17, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

Any technology is best used when it is looked as a facility rather than a necessity. England looked it that way and succeeded and Aussies did not. As Prior put it you need to plan out who takes the call on these decisions. The bowler should be the last man as he is always eager to get a wkt in his name and would want to try out even if it is a half chance. Captain might be influenced by the situation or the confidence he has on his bowler. So the best judge is the keeper. Most captains rely on keepers for field placements, as they are the best judges of how a bowler is bowling on a particular day during a particular spell. Cook is doing the right thing in relying on Prior and on his part Prior is using his brain rather than heart to seek referral. Clarke should learn from Cook and Haddin should learn from Prior. There is no doubt that this test was lost by Aussies because of Clarke - his batting and his usage of DRS. Lest Aussies should have won it confortably. DRS is definitely a boon

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (July 17, 2013, 12:31 GMT)

@MightyHammer (post on July 17, 2013, 10:15 GMT): Yes but on a 'normal' day, the Trott review would also have been a wasted one. The ICC have already admitted Trott was not out, and had that stood during the game then both reviews would have been 'wasted even sooner'. The end doesn't always justify the means...

Posted by MightyHammer on (July 17, 2013, 10:15 GMT)

I don't accept that Australia's poor use of the DRS cost them this test AT ALL. While people are saying that had they not used a stupid referral on Bairstow they would have had one left for Broad, they are overlooking the fact that they also used a stupid referral against Trott - and that got them a wicket. Take out both stupid referrals and yes, Broad is out, but Trott is not.....and I would rather rely on Trott to score runs that Broad.

I reckon when you add these 2 referrals up the net result is that Australia came out positive and ended up closer to winning the game than if that had used neither of them and had one left to use against Broad.

Posted by zing.houdini on (July 17, 2013, 9:56 GMT)

Can eliminate howlers by using a good quality slow motion camera. Hot spot and other technologies are not needed for eliminating howlers.

Posted by dscoll on (July 17, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

I agree with cozens and jmcilhinney. If you don't loose a review if it's umpires call then we will have many more speculative reviews, which will slow the game up. Reviews were made for howlers , not marginal LBW's. Also ,just because Aus have lost a test due to THEIR bad use of DRS, does not mean that the DRS rules have to be changed.

Posted by iamjeffwoad on (July 17, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

The Ashton Agar non stumping wasn't really a DRS situation. The umpire referred it to the 3rd umpire. From what I saw it was out, but Erasmus thought differently. This means it was very close. I think umpires should make a decision on the field first before THEY can review it upstairs. That way the umpire's call still stands in tight calls rather than "can't be sure, better give the benefit to the batsman"

Posted by   on (July 17, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

Matt Prior obviously makes a good umpire. Which is odd, because im not sure that's what the game is about.

As for whether "DRS is here to stay for better or worse", it doesn't have to be. I hope it's got rid of. Ruining a very simple and elegant game.

Posted by Sensiblebuzzers1 on (July 17, 2013, 9:33 GMT)

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 17, 2013, 7:44 GMT) @Walton T Gooding on (July 17, 2013, 5:51 GMT), "Means the call could have gone either way and therefore justify the review". No, completely the opposite in fact. If the call could have gone either way then it was not a clear mistake and the reviews are there to correct clear mistakes.

Exactly, using one of your reviews in these circumstances is poor use of DRS and you deserve to lose a review.

Posted by cozens on (July 17, 2013, 8:21 GMT)

this comment ''.....Let's just review it because it might be out.' That's not actually the point. DRS is to make sure that if a mistake has been made you have an opportunity to right it. Once you look at it you realise that with a lot of the lbws the right decision has been given. It has to be a blatantly obvious one before you actually review it."
 is why England are so good at utilising DRS. They aren't using it as a gimmick or to try and buy a wicket. they seem to accept the umpire will usually be right. Of course...with 1 wicket to go and 2 reviews in the bag, they may use a tactical review and 'chance their arm' , but in general they'll adhere to Priors commemts. Would love to see a table of teams and their use of DRS - how many times they are right or wrong ?

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (July 17, 2013, 8:18 GMT)

As wicket-keeper, surely Prior has one of the best views and responsibility to judge LBWs and listen/watch out for nicks and things? His judgements are generally spot-on. He is a vital cog for England.

@Jackiethepen made a good point on another thread: Prior is vice-captain, and we seldom see him going over with Cook to talk/consult with the bowlers and organise strategies etc. When the bowling goes astray, all I ever see Prior do is hold his gloves over his face. Get the whip out Prior! The team should value your opinions.

Posted by Glottalpoly on (July 17, 2013, 7:55 GMT)

There was on average less than one incorrect umpire call per team per innings. Allowing teams two incorrect challenges per innings still allows a team twice as many incorrect challenges as (likely) correct challenges.

The current numbers seem to be very reasonable, and as a spectator I dont want changes that would slow the game down for little benefit.

Players and captains make judgement calls all the time, whether are fielding, batting or bowling. Why should DRS appeals be treated differently ? They are judgements too. Why should spectators suffer because a captain (or player) wishes to engage in speculation ?

The DRS facility is there to correct howlers, and if used properly can do so.

Posted by Batmanian on (July 17, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

Great to see some intelligent analysis of DRS; no-one in Australia was spewing about the Haddin dismissal because he was clearly out on Hotspot (further, DRS saw more benefit of the doubt in Agar's non-stumping in the first innings than I could). It's first and foremost about correcting human error that counterintuits on-field human perception - not about gambling. Australia have to learn to back what they see, not what they would like to have seen.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 17, 2013, 7:44 GMT)

@Walton T Gooding on (July 17, 2013, 5:51 GMT), "Means the call could have gone either way and therefore justify the review". No, completely the opposite in fact. If the call could have gone either way then it was not a clear mistake and the reviews are there to correct clear mistakes.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 17, 2013, 7:32 GMT)

It may have been a lucky - possibly desperate - review but in this instance Cook's caution (sometimes overcaution) helped him/Eng.

I know the detractors will say it was a tactical review etc but each team gets 2 reviews and there is a lesson in not wasting reviews here.

Posted by Vasi-Koosi on (July 17, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

I support Prior's feelings on "Umpire's-Call"

Posted by   on (July 17, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

A professional player discussing a key decision making process, which articulates how to use the system. you only have 2 reviews to stop players being speculative, if unlimited they would review everything. The same would happen if this power was handed over to the umpires. The more I consider the process in place the more sensible it seems. Players get a chance to review the errors only, and lose a review if they are too speculative, and that includes umpires call. Too many top order batsman are review happy and bowlers would review everything.

Posted by   on (July 17, 2013, 5:51 GMT)

You should not loose your review when the replay shows that a part of the ball was hitting the wicket and the decisions stays with the umpire;s call. Means the call could have gone either way and therefore justify the review

Posted by jackthelad on (July 17, 2013, 5:48 GMT)

It seems DRS, for better or worse, is here to stay, so the players had better get used to it and develop constructive ways to work it to the advantage of the game. It can be a very significant positive factor or a drawback, depending on howit is used. The Trent Bridge Test is a case in point: England used DRS tactically whereas Australia squandered it in speculative gambles. I don't say this materially altered the result, but it certainly aided England while it did not aid Australia. Time for a learning curve, Oz - and a steep one.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 17, 2013, 5:20 GMT)

I agree its harsh losing a review for an 'on-field' LBW call, but reviews are often used to try and buy a wicket especially with LBW's, rather than its original purpose to eliminate errors like broads edge.

Maybe you split it so that you have 4 LBW appeals, and 2 regular appeals, or grant each batsman a single review which if unsuccessful means they walk anyway. To balance it out for the fielding side you grant them a similar token, or 10 reviews for use.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 17, 2013, 4:53 GMT)

@landl47 on (July 17, 2013, 2:43 GMT), it's not illogical at all, which is what most people seem to refuse to accept. I'm not saying that the way it is is the only way it could be or that that the current option is better or worse than any other way but there is nothing illogical about it. DRS was introduced to correct clearly wrong decisions, not marginal LBWs. If a team chooses to review the original decision and it is not clearly wrong then they lose a review. That's all there is to it. If DRS shows the decision to have been correct within the nominal margin for error then it is not clearly wrong. By allowing a team to keep their review under those circumstances you are simply encouraging them to gamble on more marginal calls. Teams like Australia just need to be sensible. Look at all the potential reviews that Cook turns down because they just aren't sure that the original decision was wrong. How many of those do you think Clarke would take? Aggressive captaincy has its down side.

Posted by landl47 on (July 17, 2013, 2:43 GMT)

I think the call for the review system to be revised with regard to LBWs so that if any of the three elements of the review (where the ball pitched, point of impact and hitting the stumps ) are 'umpire's call' the reviewing team does not lose a review is becoming overwhelming. It's simply illogical to have a team lose a review on a decision which, if it had been given the other way, would have stood.

I favour giving all the decisions to the umpires, but if we keep the reviews, that at least would make the process fairer and less of a gamble.

However, England were smarter than Australia in the use of the reviews in this test and that contributed to the win.

Posted by   on (July 17, 2013, 1:56 GMT)

Hope Clarke won't now go the other way and be too conservative at Lord's.

Posted by foozball on (July 17, 2013, 1:00 GMT)

An interesting article. To me this issue holds some parallels to Australia's pre-2005 attitude to T20 i.e. nothing serious. Back then, it was also the English who gave the Aussies a lesson on the pitch, and I reckon that was the last time any Australian cricketer saw T20 as a bit of meaningless hit-and-giggle fun on the side.

Can only hope Hads (the old dog) isn't overly averse to learning some new tricks by considering an alternate POV on managing the DRS

Posted by btron3000 on (July 16, 2013, 22:40 GMT)

Could you imagine a Steve Waugh / John Buchanan team falling behind another nation when it comes to taking up a new concept, like DRS??

Simply not good enough, and it shows Aus has been worried about other things (like splits in the camp) rather than being at the forefront of the game.

Posted by   on (July 16, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

Prior is a better 'keeper and batter than Haddin, going by experience and average. But I think he will need to score more runs to prove that, rather than keeping his 40+ average. Haddin almost won the match for Australia, and if he did, Prior would be answering a lot of questions regarding his batting. Poor shot in both innings from him. Still an exciting batsman, hoping for a rapid innings next Test!

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (July 16, 2013, 21:09 GMT)

Lucky? Whatever happened to making your own luck?

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