Monday, 22 July 2013

It's just not fair

If you are an Australian fan you might think that your cricket side has been short-changed by the DRS system and umpires. Every decision seems to edge towards England. Every 50-50 decision seems to somehow come out favouring the English. If only the Australian side had the same good fortune as England the overall result may be different. Okay not different. Australia was outclassed at Lord’s but it does seem that things are a little unfair.

I could have written that same paragraph ten years ago and swapped over England and Australia. When Australia was the dominant force in world cricket it seemed like they always had the good luck. The key umpiring decisions always went their way. If a few of those went our way then maybe we would have a chance and they wouldn't be so dominant…

There are two reasons why it appears that Australia are getting the rough end of decisions.

Firstly the victors tend not to complain. England has won the first two test matches so don’t feel hard done by. England fans are not sore that Trott was given out first ball at Trent Bridge (a decision that received an apology from the ICC) or that Agar, who made 98, was given not out when in single figures. He looked out to me. If you are Australian you have probably forgotten about those two events but really remember Broad’s non dismissal! Broad’s innings changed the match, except of course so did Agar’s.

Secondly Australia’s side currently isn't as good as England’s – and by some margin. When a side is struggling to compete, every bit of bad luck is like a hammer blow. When a side is holding on with its finger tips the very last thing it needs is something to go against it. It just cannot afford any problems. It is like having a deadline you might just meet - there is no room for problems. So it is with Australia – they don’t have any reserve; no capacity to catch up because they are already stretched to the limit just trying to keep up. So any controversial (or just plain wrong) decision is amplified and seems to reverberate through the rest of the match.

In sport, luck appears to go with the winners.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

DRS fuss

Stuart Broad’s un-dismissal at Trent Bridge in England’s Second innings has caused quite a fuss. I don’t really understand why. Stuart did what plenty of batsmen do: he let the umpire make the decision. He could have walked himself but he didn't. He knew he had hit the ball, just as Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin knew they had hit the ball when they were given out on referral. It is just that their edges were thinner. Does that really make much difference? I don’t think so.

The real difference between Broad’s case and that of Clarke and Haddin is that Broad wasn't given out. The umpire got it wrong and there was no correction. This is not a failure of DRS or the system. It is a failure by Clarke who used his two referrals unwisely. DRS is supposed to be to stop really bad decisions but it cannot do that if someone tries to use it tactically and gamble with it. As with all gambling there will be losers.

I have heard the argument “let’s just have one referral, that way it will only get used for the really bad decisions”. This seems flawed because once the first referral is used up there is only one left. So any side that uses one referral has automatically trialed only having one. It didn't work then.

I think the DRS works well as it is – we just need captains that know how to use it.