When the controversial referrals system was halted earlier in the year I was under the impression it was so that the powers-that-be could tweak and amend it so that it wasn’t abused – like in the West Indies V England series – and was implemented properly by the umpires, unlike in the West Indies V England series.
From the players abusing it point of view I am struggling to see what has actually changed. During the 4th day of the Australia V West Indies 2nd test, Ricky Ponting used both of his referrals in the first hour and lost them both.
The first was for a catch behind of opener Adrian Barath, when Doug Bollinger had a confident appeal turned down. The umpire reveiwed the decision and it became apparent fairly quickly that the evidence was inconclusive so he was not out. Ponting felt there was an edge and appealed it, but it wasn’t a clear edge and glaring error so he must have known there was a chance it could be turned down. A questionable decision from Ponting at best.
If the first one was questionable then the second was clearly a tactical one. With Chris Gayle at the crease and the Aussies worried he might bat them out of the game with an onslaught, Ponting clearly thought it was worth risking his last referral for a catch behind off the bowling of Hauritz, when it came off Gayle’s pad. Maybe Ponting was living in hope that it knicked his bat on the way through, again, he surely couldn’t have been certain.
It was clearly a situation were Ponting gambled hoping to get the wicket of Gayle, rather than appealing against a howler from the umpire, the very reason the system was introduced.
Neither of the two appeals were clear glaring errors from the umpires, the first was a matter of opinion – Barath may well have been out – and the second a calculated risk. The system was brought in to eradicate the blatent error from the umpire, not to be used for tactical reasons.
Another problem I have with the implementation of the system is that it is meant to be used to over rule the glaring error from the umpire. Why then do we need two referrals an innings? Surely one would be enough.
If it is to be used when a batsman is given out lbw when he gets a massive inside edge or if the umpire misses an outside edge to the wicket keeper where the ball clearly deviates, rather than for matters of opinion, then surely one appeal would be all you would need.
The site of Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar (both when batting) in the West Indies earlier this year using two referrals in one test purely because they were still there was pathetic and can only harm cricket.
It appears that this procedure looks set to carry on as I can’t see what has changed. The ICC should either use it properly or get rid of it.