Umpires have 'cracked under pressure' - Haddin
Australia's vice-captain Brad Haddin has questioned the standard of umpiring throughout the Ashes series and believed that on-field officials were second-guessing themselves because of the presence of DRS. Haddin also reiterated the call he made after the first Test at Trent Bridge to have the review system taken out of the hands of the players and left at the sole discretion of the umpires.
Haddin was clearly upset when he was given out lbw by umpire Tony Hill in Australia's second innings in Chester-le-Street, where he tried to work a Stuart Broad delivery to leg. Haddin asked for a review and the umpire's call stood after HawkEye suggested the ball would have just grazed the very top and edge of the leg bail. When asked what it was he had said to the umpire as he walked off, Haddin said he had muttered the words: "Not again".
Haddin was quick to point out the umpiring had not been the cause of Australia's disappointing scoreline in the series and he commended England for having performed better, but he said that both teams would likely feel that the standard of officiating in the series had been below-par. Hill particularly was under the spotlight in the fourth Test, where he made a number of incorrect decisions, but all the officials have erred throughout the series.
"I think England deserve to be in the position they are at 3-0. I think they've played the better cricket," Haddin said. "But in all honesty, I think the standard of the umpiring in this series has been something that they could have a look at. I know players deal with pressure in different situations and some guys respond to it and some don't. I think with the umpiring in this series, there have been times when they have cracked under the pressure of a campaign like [this].
"I think DRS has put too much pressure on the umpires on the field. I think they're second-guessing themselves with their decisions ... I should've hit it [in Chester-le-Street]. But I think from both teams we've had some things that we've sat back and said 'how can this be happening?'."
Teams haven't always had to sit back and say it - they can do so out on the field while the replays are unfolding live on the big screen. After a review, the umpires and players typically stand around the pitch in their own little groups and watch the big-screen replay, which often brings plenty of jeering from the crowd if the umpire was shown to have made a mistake.
"I do think it does place pressure on the umpires because the crowd react," Haddin said of the replays. "If it's a home crowd here they're always going to lean towards England. I do think DRS has put a lot of pressure on the umpires on the field. I've gone on record before saying it should be taken out of the players' hands and let the umpires deal with it. If they think it needs to go upstairs, let them go upstairs."
There are also questions over whether umpires would make the same decisions for the same deliveries, depending on whether a team still holds reviews or not. If, for example, an Australian bowler appeals with no reviews left, and the England batsmen still have reviews available, an umpire might feel more inclined to give a line-ball decision out because England have the option of challenging, whereas Australia do not.
"I think the umpires are aware where DRS is at, who's got one left or who's got none left, and I think it can influence their decision," Haddin said. "I think it needs to be taken out of the players' hands, and let the umpires have total control. The bottom line is you just want to have more decisions right than not. You don't want to be talking about DRS or umpire decisions in such a big series."
The fifth Test at The Oval begins on Wednesday with Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena standing as the on-field officials and Hill as the TV umpire. Together with Marais Eramsus, they are the only four members of the ICC's Elite Panel of umpires who are able to stand in an Ashes series, as the remaining eight men on the panel are either from England or Australia.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here