Decision Review System: Review everything or nothing … Just do something please ICC!

The Decision Review System was again in the spotlight yesterday following reviews of dismissals of Steve Smith and Joe Root. Whether you believe either player was out probably depends on the team that you support however two immutable truths came out of what we saw yesterday:

1. The umpires, regardless of the decision made, used the system correctly.

2. Truth number 1 is the best example of why DRS is one of the bricks in the wall that is ruining our game.

I have written before about rules that I believe the fans of the game want to see to changed, the DRS laws are not the only ones. I have also written about the importance of playing the game in accordance with the laws of the game as they stand at any particular time.

That hope for change and respect for the laws of the game have lead me to an interesting position when it comes to the future of DRS: either all decisions must be adjudicated via the DRS technology or none at all.

My rationale for reaching this conclusion is three fold:

1. Cricket is a game, on the field, that is governed by humans. Humans, whether they are behind the stumps and up in the TV booth at television official, make mistakes. it is the very nature of human beings that mistakes are going to be made and technology that, of itself, requires a human interpretation is not going to rid the game of such human error.

2. Is it not incongruous to the ideology of fairness that is a cornerstone of the rules and spirit of the game that only a limited number of dismissals are reviewed. Surely, an even playing field across all dismissals is within the spirit of the game and thus to uphold that spirit all dismissals should use the available technology or none at all.

3. The genesis of DRS was the ever improvement of technology via the television broadcasters (particularly Channel 9) that lead to a reduction, in my view, in the confidence of fans have in officials and an increase in the levels of dissent showed to the decisions of those in the middle. The lack of respect for match officials is a pox on our game, the other sports played around the world and society in general. To me, regaining that respect for decisions requires a consistent application of the laws via the all or nothing approach I advocate.

My personal opinion is that DRS should simply be scrapped and cricket should revert to the decisions resting with the on field umpires. That is what happens at every other level of the game from juniors through to first class cricket so I question why at the top level the players are entitled to any special treatment.

It only became obvious to me during a particularly robust discussion around the dinner table that that position will never happen though. The reason is simple: the television broadcasters led to the need for DRS by the ongoing analysis of the decision of umpires and the creation of doubt. Now they are the biggest critics of the system and spend even more time in analysis of decisions. Why would they want a system that gives them fodder to discuss the game to go away?

I recall watching a block of highlights of test matches from the early 1990s the other day and seeing LBW decisions given that would not have hit another set stumps let alone the stumps in play. The commentators spent no more than the time between balls and the remainder of the over commenting on it and even then the comments had none of the vigour of what we see now. Richie Benaud never used to spend 20 minutes at the tea break questioning one decision.

Until those who broadcast the game get on board with the primacy of decision making of umpires, we are never going to see the end of DRS so, whilst my personal view is that it must go, I suggest we give Channel 9 et all what they want and just refer everything to DRS. Better yet: why don’t we put the commentators in charge of the “red button” and be done with the third umpire all together. I bet the ICC and the home administrators could make a pretty penny out of that!

Ashes Tour 2013/14 Countdown Day 65: Finally the Northern Tour Ends

This morning saw the end of Australia’s long sojourn in England, Scotland and Wales that began on 1 June 2013 at Sophia Gardens against the West Indies. Some 50 days of cricket were in the schedule for the Australians on this tour and, but for a late flourish culminating with a stirring victory in the final game of the series, it has been a series to forget.

With 65 days to go until the first test of the Ashes commences at the Gabba is it now time to jettison the tour that finished today to the memory bank and to focus forward to Australia’s next challenge to rest the urn from the English.

Before I do so however it is an apposite time to consider the performances on the Australians on tour, across all forms, and consider who were the winners and losers for Australia coming out of the last 50 days of cricket.


Chris Rogers: For mine the ascendancy of Chris Rogers to the top of Australia’s batting order and his locking up (in my opinion) of the opening position of the return test series is the story of the tour for Australia. Rogers is the epitome of a professional cricket and at 36 years old has a short shelf in the Australian team but I can not think of a player in Australia more deserving of his chance in the baggy green. His 110 in the 4th test match of the Ashes was met with rapturous acclaim by fans on both side because we know what he has had to do for the opportunity.

Ryan Harris: If the ascendancy of Chris Rogers was the story of the tour then the return of Ryan Harris was a very close run second. A chronic knee injury coupled with serious shoulder surgery and the ominous statistic of having never played 3 test matches in row seemed to conspire to keep Harris out of the test team for the first test. Once he got his chance in the 2nd test he was easily the best bowler for Australia and close to the bowler of the tournament. 24 wickets at 19.58 are compelling numbers but only tell half of the story. Every time Harris ran in he looked like getting a wicket and the England players looked relieved when he left the bowling crease.

Darren Lehmann: Handed the poisoned chalice of coaching an underdog team with underlying player behaviour issues, from the outside at least, Darren Lehmann’s reputation as a manager of men has only been enhanced by this trip. The results did not go the team’s way and he did have a couple of faux pas with the press along the way however the man they call “Boof” will return to Australia happily at the helm of the team in advance of the Australian leg of the Ashes tour.

Aaron Finch: Scoring the highest score by an Australian player in an international T20 with 156 in the first T20 game of the tour was no mean feat and showed the class that Finch’s form has hinted was around the corner at some point. He is a winner from the tour because of Australia’s propensity of selecting for test duty players who excel at the short form of the game despite the frailties in their respective games at the long form of the game.

George Bailey: Was Australia’s most consistent batsman in the Natwest ODI series and never really looked troubled whilst at the crease. Became the fastest Australian batsman to reach 1000 runs in ODI cricket (shared with Greg Chappell) during the course of the series. He is also a winner because an outcome of the Ashes series is that there is a vacancy at the number 6 position of the order which Bailey may well now be in the frame to fill.

Mitchell Johnson: Australia’s best bowler form wise in the Natwest Series (McKay’s hayrick has elevated his figures) with a return of the control and pace not seen for many years. Became the 6th Australian bowler to pass 200 wickets in ODI cricket. The injuries to Australia’s fast bowlers arising out of the test section of the tour see him now in the frame for selection in the 1st test at the Gabba.


Ed Cowan: Went to England the incumbent opening batter for Australia and has returned, seemingly, to play out his days as a Sheffield Shield cricketer for Tasmania. Clearly does not fit in with Darren Lehmann’s plan for the team and, despite being an excellent team man, will now have been passed by some of the other younger contenders for the next opening or upper order spot to become available.

Messrs Pattinson, Bird and Starc: All have returned from England with one injury or another and now look to be in significant doubt for the 1st Ashes test (assuming each was in the frame). The management of Australia’s bowlers is an ongoing issue, given that Patrick Cummins is also injured again, and the poor management of, in particular, Starc must be looked at to ensure these injuries are mitigated against.

Mickey Arthur: Sacked as Australian coach before the first significant game of the series (the Champions Trophy is an insignificance to me) and then made a fool of himself by suing Cricket Australia. An obvious loser from the tour.

David Warner: Originally I thought that Warner would end up a winner for the tour having been brought back from South Africa to play in the last two test matches for Australia. Frankly though it was a tour to forget for Warner the bookends of which were his punch to Joe Root at the start of the tour and his sacking from the ODI team at the end. Previously the face of the ODI team, Warner will need to work hard to come back into favour with the coach.

Many will consider that there are other winners and losers to come out of Australia’s Northern tour. These are the ones that stick out for me though.

The Sheffield Shield season can not commence quickly enough to progress Australia’s preparation for the coming Australian leg of the Ashes tour.

The Ashes 2013: Scotland v Australia ODI Talking Points

Australia destroyed Scotland by 200 runs last night in their single ODI of this tour. Centuries to Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh were the bedrock of massive Australian total of 362. With the ball, Mitchell Johnson took 4 wickets as Scotland were restricted to just 162.

What can fans take from this game? The main talking point, obviously, is how much stock can be placed in this fixture by the Australian hierarchy given that the opposition consisted principally of County Second XI and part time cricketers.

To me this game must be condemned to being a footnote of the tour marked as the glorified net session that it was right from the moment the Scottish captain won the toss and elected to bowl.

The saddest part of all of that is the long standing opening batting record for Australia in ODIs that was broken by Finch and Marsh was bested in a game against 3rd tier opposition. The “International” designation of these games may be something that requires attention in future to avoid such a travesty occurring again.

Ashes Tour 2013: Scotland v Australia Preview

The next part of Australia’s tour of the British Isles, the One Day International Fixtures, kicks off in Edinburgh this evening (Australian time). A game of international standing, this fixture has been couched by many as merely a warm up game however it is game that both sides will be desperate to win.

Outside of Scotland and unless you are an ardent student of the game you will know little about Scottish cricket. Their team for this game has been weakened by the loss of Scotland’s captain, Kyle Coezter. Replacing Coezter is an Australian born opener in Hamish Gardiner who uses his mother’s Scottish heritage to make his international debut against the land of his birth here. Natal born off spinning all-rounder, Preston Mommsen, will lead the Scottish in this game.

A player to watch for Scotland will be off break bowler Majid Haq. Currently the most experienced bowler in the Scottish line up, Haq is a home grown talent hailing from Paisley in Renfrewshire. He bowls a tight line and is generally quite miserly when it comes to runs scored off his bowling. That tight bowling will be needed if the Scots are to restrain Australia to a responsible total.

The Australian team come into this game off the back of its first victory in any form of the game since February. Darren Lehmann has been overt in the press in recent days that Australia is not treating this game as a warm up fixture and will select its best line up in Edinburgh including Michael Clarke is he is fit. All eyes will be on Aaron Finch to see if he can replicate his dominant display last time out against England in the T20 format whilst it seems likely that mature age leg spinner, Fawad Ahmed, will make his debut in the ODI form of the game in this fixture.

Scotland has beaten Australia before in cricket contests: one just has to look back to 1882 for the only time that occurred. A better form line is presented by the last two fixtures between the two teams, at the 2007 World Cup and the same game in 2009, which ended in 203 run and 189 run victories to Australia respectively. For the Australian players, at stake is reputation risk: a bad performance here, particularly by those striving for higher honours in the baggy green come 21 November, could see one’s card marked “not to be selected” by the NSP.

It is difficult to see anything other than an Australian victory in this game against a line up principally made up of 2nd XI players from the English County Competition. The length of the game may be largely determined by whomever wins the toss of the coin.

The Ashes Tour: Australian ODI Squad named

Cricket Australia has tweaked its ODI squad for the upcoming series against Scotland and England. The squad is:

Michael Clarke (ODI capt), George Bailey, Fawad Ahmed, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade (wk), Shane Watson.

David Warner has been dropped and Mitchell Starc is returning home injured.

The dropping of Warner has arisen because of his poor form in the ODI form of the game. Frankly, this is not before time given that he has been averaging 20 in this form. Hopefully he will return to the domestic form of the game and actually play some first class cricket.

The Ashes Tour: England’s ODI Squad

England has named its squad for the One Day International fixtures for the Natwest series starting on 6 September. It is:

Eoin Morgan (capt), Ravi Bopara, Jos Buttler, Michael Carberry, Steven Finn, Chris Jordan, Jamie Overton, Kevin Pietersen, Boyd Rankin, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright

A number of players have been rested from the team that played in the test series including: Cook, Anderson, Bell and Swann.