TECHNOLOGY and umpiring dominated this Ashes series yet again after Ian Bell appeared to be caught during the third day of the second Test at Lord’s.
The low catch in the gully taken by Steve Smith looked clear watching from beyond the boundary and equally clear on replay.
Peter Siddle later claimed that Smith was unsure if he caught it so after a discussion umpires Marais Erasmus and Kumar Dharmasena consulted video umpire Tony Hill, who gave it not out.
It looked such an obvious catch it is difficult to know why the umpires on the field could not mate a decision.
And as far as usually dodgy video replays of low catches go, this seemed about as obvious as it could get.
Bell wasn’t saved by technology but umpire Hill’s inability to use it properly.
If that catch wasn’t out then no low catches ever will be out.
Depth of field problems can often distort a low catch on television and players know it. If they hang around there is every chance the video umpire will rule in their favour because the catch is inconclusive.
This was conclusive.
Not for the first time in this series the umpire in front of the small screen has seen things differently to most other people watching.
Much of the time it is not the technology which creates the problem but the arbitrary rules put in place around it and those who use it.
Umpires need to be taught properly how to quickly and efficiently use the system so that decision making is completely taken out of the hands of the players, bringing an end to cricket’s version of Russian roulette, the referral.
International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson said trials were taking place during this series with upgraded technology, which would allow video umpires to make quicker decisions, but it was at an early stage.
Richardson also welcomed debate about the possibility of using non-neutral umpires for some series.
With eight of the 12 umpires on the elite panel from Australia or England, only Aleem Dar, Hill, Dharmasena and Erasmus are available to umpire the 10 consecutive Ashes Tests across the next six months.
Stuart Broad’s decision to stay at Trent Bridge when an obvious edge ended up with Michael Clarke at first slip was worse than Bell yesterday because everyone knew that Broad hit the ball and Michael Clarke caught it, except Dar.
Because Australia had wasted both reviews the umpire decision review system which was brought in to get rid of the howler allowed the howler and Broad to stay.
Under the letter of the law players are quite entitled to stand their ground and wait for the umpires decision but there comes a time when they are so obviously out they should go.
All of this is a poor reflection on the umpiring too.
Decisions should be a lot better than they have in this series by on field and video umpires.
A greater investment needs to be made in producing and developing better umpires for the technological age.
- Australians probe offensive tweet (bbc.co.uk)
- Time to review the DRS (playupblog.wordpress.com)
- Is technology spoiling the Ashes spirit? (bbc.co.uk)
- The Ashes 2013: ICC go public to back umpires after DRS controversies atfirst Test (metro.co.uk)
- ICC defends umpires, DRS (kaieteurnewsonline.com)
- ICC backs Ashes umpires and Decision Review System despite controversies of first Test (brimfulofashes.wordpress.com)
- ICC defend DRS and umpires in Ashes opener (dawn.com)
- Ian Bell’s refusal to walk shows technology now trumps trust in Ashes | Mike Selvey (guardian.co.uk)
- After contentious Ashes opener, ICC defends DRS (thehindu.com)
- England push on in second Ashes Test (smh.com.au)