England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 1st day August 1, 2013

DRS under review

Plays of the day from the first day at Old Trafford

The review I
Graeme Swann did not even appeal when he drew Usman Khawaja into a drive and saw the ball turn past the outside edge. Matt Prior and the rest of the England fielders did though and, after some deliberation, umpire Tony Hill gave Khawaja out. The batsman called for a review and, while replays suggested no contact between bat and ball, there was no sign on Hot Spot and both audio and visual replays suggested the only noise came from the bat brushing the pad, the TV umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, upheld the decision and Khawaja had to go. It was a decision that will renew scrutiny on the value of the DRS and, more pertinently, some of the officials charged with using it. Dharmasena, it should be noted, is currently ICC umpire of the year. Reaction to the decision was swift and damning: Tom Moody described it as "farcical", Shane Warne as "horrific" and Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, wrote on Twitter that it was "one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen".

The review II
England were convinced that Steven Smith had been caught behind off James Anderson when he had 18. Umpire Marais Erasmus did not agree and England were quick to utilise the DRS. But while there was evidence of a noise as the ball passed the bat, there was no sign of an edge on Hot Spot and no obvious deviation. Dharmasena therefore upheld the on-field umpire's decision, Smith survived and England were left with no more reviews. They had also used their other one on Smith before he had scored when he played back to a sharply turning delivery from Swann and, though the ball struck him in line, Hawk-Eye upheld the on-field umpire's not-out decision by the tiniest of margin by showing that less than half the ball would have clipped the leg stump.

The let off
At first glance it appeared it was Michael Clarke who had enjoyed a let off when, on 23, Ian Bell at leg slip juggled with a ball from Swann that had turned past the batsman's inside edge and the ball ran down to fine leg for a single. On closer inspection, however, it seemed that umpire Hill had enjoyed the let off as replays showed clearly that Clarke had not hit the ball and the only impact came from his thigh pad. Had Bell held on to the 'catch', it would have proved another embarrassing moment for the umpires and another test of the DRS. In light of such moments, it is hardly surprising that the ICC are using this match to test new TV umpire protocols. The present system is clearly far from perfect.

The distraction
Chris Rogers was distracted by a ghost: the ghost of bad crowd management. So many deliveries were stopped because someone was moving behind the bowler's arm. During one over from Swann, members on the balcony were upsetting Rogers. Play was stopped more than once, and many arms were waved, including those of two Australian domestic cricketers, Jon Wells and Daniel Salpietro, who were among those on the balcony. But Rogers seemed to handle them. What he couldn't handle was an elderly man standing behind the glass door in about the most menacing way possible, swaying from side to side from behind the darkened glass, which made him look like an otherworldly figure. Rogers missed his next ball and was given out. The old man was clearly the ghost of wickets future.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Eric on August 3, 2013, 3:46 GMT

    You need to provide inceventives for good behaviour or penalities for bad behaviour. Currently players are reviewing when they think they may not be out but it created to be used when they know they are not out I think for every struck down review every player in the team should lose 5% of their match fee. This prevents individual players from trying to review to individual reasons as the whole team pays the price.

  • Tim on August 2, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    Gotta love FFL. One of the great comedians of our age. Snicko of course later confirmed that Smith had missed it.

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    The current system assumes that the decision making of umpires is independent of whether DRS is employed or not. In case the umpires are not affected by the presence of the DRS, the system will always improve the decision making. However, the trouble is that the umpires are affected and they tend to make mistake that they would not have made had DRS not been in place. This is the real issue with the DRS, the effect on the umpires. It also complicates the game which is already very complicated. I mean, look at the rules; you will need a lawyer to understand and interpret what they mean in any given scenario!

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    That stupid rule reg. 'neutral umpires', means incompetents like Tony Hill get to umpire important matches, while the better ones have to sit out!

  • Chris on August 2, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    I find it funny how nowadays people say "a noise doesn't mean a thing". Umpires have been giving batsmen out since day dot because of what appeared to them to be the sound of and edge, backed up by what they saw.

    Now it seems people complain when sound of an edge is used - even when it correlates with the ball passing the bat.

    Khawaja wasn't out, the sound didn't correlate. But sound has always and should always be used in assisting umpires in making decisions.

  • Paul on August 2, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    The half a ball is for error. Every measurement tool has error. Nothing is known for certain, but by including the extra half a ball, we're now confident. Or, as in the correctly upheld Smith decision, we can't be confident, so he gets the benefit of the doubt. I don't understand why this is so hard to understand.

  • Sacha on August 2, 2013, 2:40 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge: No, in another age those decisions would not have been given out. In another age the umpire's decisions held firm because there was no DRS. So, "in another age" it still would've been the same outcome.

    I agree with a lot of posters who say that the initial umpire's call possibly needs to be taken out so the review can be taken totally fresh (rather than looking for a reason to overturn) - Dharmasena may be a victim of a flawed system where he can't review independently, but rather has to look for incontrovertible proof to overturn an existing decision??

    LBW DRS's also seem to be creating too much inconsistency. Just look at all the LBW reviews that rely on the initial umpire's call to determine the outcome of the review. You get too many situations where the exact same situation (eg: <50% of the ball hitting the stumps) gets reviewed differently depending on the initial decision. One team will always feel that they get the raw end of the luck in these situations.

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2013, 2:13 GMT

    This is the exact reason why We (India) are not supporting DRS..Now it's time for Australia to realise..

  • Orang on August 2, 2013, 0:59 GMT

    Let's get back to basics, the on-field umpiring has been abysmal, Aleem Dar's howler in Trent Bridge which Broad brazenly profited from, Erasmus's decision against Rogers at Lord's, and now both Hill and Erasmus making howlers on day 1 of the 3rd Test. These guys are hitting new lows. As for DRS, I just don't believe the Hawkeye technology when it comes to ball tracking it is only good to pinpoint where the ball landed a la tennis, and as for Hotspot it's completely spotty. Perhaps the third umpires should be asked to explain to the paying public how they arrived at such diabolical decisions.

  • Patrick on August 2, 2013, 0:29 GMT

    DRS system is almost perfect. The umpires are just incompetent. I can understand erroneous decisions on the field, but when you have replays and all sorts of views it's unforgivable to make such a wrong decision. And baffling.

  • No featured comments at the moment.