A strong case for technology
That is the nature of the game but West Indies again had more than their fair share on the fourth day of the second Test on Monday.
The most crippling were three in the space of four balls by Russell Tiffin that helped Brett Lee's awesome spell of fast swing bowling before lunch turn a match slowly but surely heading towards a draw into the probability of an Australian victory.
Another, late in the day by Mark Benson that denied Jerome Taylor a deserved third wicket, was less significant. But the decision that favoured Andrew Symonds on a gloved leg-side catch was the exact opposite to that against Dwayne Bravo off his thigh pad at the start of Tiffin's triple intervention. They inevitably raised, once again, the increasingly debated subject of the use of television technology to aid umpires for each one was shown, on replay, to be flawed.
Last March, the ICC board approved a trial for an umpire-review system that would allow players to ask the on-field umpire to review any aspect of a decision, other than line, in consultation with the third umpire. Each team would be limited to a maximum of three unsuccessful referrals in an innings. The ICC's cricket committee, comprising eminent former players along with umpires and media representatives, endorsed the proposal at its meeting early last month.
Had it been in operation yesterday as many as six decisions would have been reversed - 4-2 in favour of West Indies - and the Test might have been in an entirely different state entering the last day with the home batsmen under pressure to bat out the available 98 overs.
They seemed headed towards safety through the first hour and a half as Shivnarine Chanderpaul was steadily accumulating another of his now habitual hundreds and Bravo, intent on not wasting a lifeless pitch and a sound start, had dug in with him for a partnership of 132. It all changed when Lee was handed a ball 94 overs old by captain Ricky Ponting. Immediately, Australia's strike bowler was bending it like Beckham. In the modern jargon, the ball was "reversing", swinging sharp and late against the polished side.
Striving for pace and still adjusting his radar, Lee was just off line with the fourth ball of his second comeback over. Angled down the leg side, Bravo attempted to turn it off his hip, one of his favoured strokes. Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin tumbled to gather the ball, Tiffin raised his finger to verify strong appeals and Bravo threw his head back in despair before trudging off.
Reason for his reaction was soon evident as TV replays revealed the deflection was from his thigh, not his bat. Such decisions are difficult to detect but it is usual that batsmen get the benefit of any doubt.
|The decision that favoured Andrew Symonds on a gloved leg-side catch was the exact opposite to that against Dwayne Bravo off his thigh pad at the start of Tiffin's triple intervention. They inevitably raised, once again, the increasingly debated subject of the use of television technology to aid umpires for each one was shown, on replay, to be flawed|
Denesh Ramdin replaced Bravo and copped an unplayable first ball, fast, swerving late into his front pad and heading for the off stump. Up went Tiffin's finger to Lee's insistent appeal for lbw. Darren Sammy let Lee's - and Tiffin's - hat-trick ball pass dangerously close to off stump. An intervening over of Andrew Symonds offered brief respite.
Lee's next ball was a repeat of that to Ramdin and the outcome was the same, crashing into Sammy's front pad for Tiffin to once more raise his right index finger. In each case, the off stump would have been knocked back. In each case, the TV replay clearly indicated the pad was struck outside off stump, geometry that should have negated the lbw decision.
Late in the day, Benson lapsed into errors of his own, giving Symonds in on his gloved catch and Lee out to a catch off his forearm. In six hours, the case for the use of technology had been appreciably advanced.