Wednesday 4th May, 2008

 
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Bring on cricket

technology now

In the face of some glaring umpiring decisions which went against the regional team, the West Indies was able to come away from the Antigua Test against the Australians with an honourable draw yesterday.

Not since 1995, some 13 years ago, has the West Indies emerged from a Test match against Australia with such a result. It has been a string of losses against the world champions, sometimes in a most embarrassing manner, including defeats within three days.

It is to the credit of Ramnaresh Sarwan and his team that not only did the West Indies hold the Aussies to a draw, but the ten days of cricket played over the two Test matches have been competitive, with the home team having the upper hand in some instances—a far cry from the dominance which the visitors have enjoyed in the past.

While a draw seemed inevitable after the West Indies batsmen, led by the indefatigable Shivnarine Chanderpaul and captain Sarwan, manfully guided their team to safety, it can be argued that poor umpiring had the potential to turn the West Indies’ best moment against Australia in the last 13 years into disaster.

Three bad decisions within the space of four balls by umpire Russell Tiffin in the first innings, which helped a very lucky Brett Lee to return figures that he should not have enjoyed, transformed the West Indies from a position of comfort to the possibility of defeat.

Another late in the day by the other official, Mark Benson, denied Jerome Taylor the wicket of Australian captain Ricky Ponting, while 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 error.

The decisions initiated discussions once more on the use of television technology to aid umpires. Each decision was shown, on replay, to be wrong.

It was in March that the International Cricket Council (ICC) approved a trial for a review system that would allow players to ask the on-field umpire to review decisions in consultation with the third umpire. Teams would be limited to a maximum of three unsuccessful referrals in an innings. The ICC’s cricket committee, comprising former top players, umpires and media representatives, endorsed the proposal last month.

Had this been in existence during this match, at least six decisions would have been reversed, four of them in favour of the West Indies.

At the point of Bravo’s unfortunate ejection, the West Indies was grinding its way into a sound position and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened had he and Chanderpaul been allowed to continue their partnership, which at the time was worth 132 runs.

Ramdin and Sammy were also undone by Tiffin, much to Lee’s insistent appealing rather than the quality of his bowling, both being struck outside the off stump.

Some have argued that umpires appear to give the benefit of the doubt to the “white” teams, particularly Australia, and point to the number of wrong decisions which followed the careers of West Indian Brian Lara and India’s Sachin Tendulkar while cricketers like Ponting, in particular, have not suffered the same fate.

Justice, we feel, must not only be done but if there is a system that can ensure that it is done, we make no apologies in calling for it.

The ICC decision in March seems the way to go. This Test match proves that. It is time to bring on the technology.

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