The drizzle that’s been hanging around for the past couple of days cut the morning walk, which was going to be devoted to deliberations on the Decision Referral System, short, but that doesn’t mean I need more time to sort these things out in my own mind. In fact I had things more or less done and dusted before I turned around at the Sound Shell and headed back into town.
It’s fairly obvious when you take a look at the score card that the runs Broad scored after the incident that had everyone talking were a key component in the final margin, and when you factor in the runs Bell contributed at the other end through that seventh wicket partnership you’d have to say poor management in our approach to the DRS was one of the factors that cost us the game.
Not, by any means, the only factor, but it was a significant one. It’s something that needs to be addressed as a medium to long term issue until the current DRS regime is modified, and once it is we need to make sure we address it again.
Before we go too far with the issue, of course, we need to remind ourselves why it’s there and what we’re looking to do. Those considerations should be part of an overall reassessment of where the Australian team stands as far as umpiring is concerned.
For a start, there’s no point about going on about neutral umpires and repeating the old line about the best umpire in the world being unable to stand in an Ashes Test if he comes from England or Australia. Umpires have egos too, and it doesn’t do any harm to stroke them occasionally. You get more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar.
The other point here is that I suspect referral happy teams get an unconscious bump in the incidence of dodgy decisions because the umpire knows a referral will sort things out if he does make a mistake. That’s an unconscious thing, much like the situation when you have someone with a reputation for walking who stays put after a confident appeal.
I suspect these things end up delivering less rigour to the decision making process.
We know, of course, that the official version of the logic behind the DRS is the desire to eliminate the obvious howler, and we also know that cricket at the top level is a pretty ruthless business, so you can expect players will always be looking for an avenue through which an advantage can be gained.
Let’s stick with the official version, modified to reflect a healthy self-interest.
The DRS is there to avoid obvious howlers that end up costing us games. Obvious, innit?
There are slightly different considerations involved depending on whether you’re batting or bowling, but the key factor in the decision to refer or not to refer should be a definite No referral without consultation.