India have finally shown signs that they will accept the ICC’s Decision Review System (DRS) by the end of the year.
Ironically, after the furore surrounding its introduction – mostly, it would hamper the game’s inherent excitement and controversy, and served as an unnecessary change – England fans are now crying out for its return.
The current Test series between the two is not using the system, which permits two reviews per innings for each team, because India have opposed it.
On Friday, Matt Prior departed the crease amidst another England batting collapse; his wicket was most notable, however, due to the manner of his dismissal – caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, despite not having hit the ball.
Joe Root, who watched Prior’s dismissal from the other end, said it was “frustrating” that England did not have the normal opportunities to double-check the decision. That is unlikely to be the last controversial decision in what looks set to be a tight series, and the absence of reviews has the potential to be disastrous, should it affect the outcome of one of the Tests.
While it is too late for this series, there is hope for future matches involving India, as the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) has now promised to look into accepting DRS, on the condition that all reviews are decided ultimately by the third umpire.
Oddly, India are the only major cricket nation who oppose it. It can only be used in matches where both sides agree upon it, and they have certainly benefited from several decisions over the last year which could have been overturned.
They were also irked when trialing the scheme in 2008 in a series against Sri Lanka, in which just one of their twenty appeals was successful.
If they decide to make a U-turn, the most immediate winners will be the ICC, whose recent reforms have recently given India even more power, together with Australia and England as part of the ‘Big Three’. With that in mind, it is essential that India begin singing the same tune as the rest of international cricket, particularly as there is no sign of DRS being ousted.
In this instance, Prior’s dismissal will not prove decisive, except perhaps on a personal note for the Sussex wicket-keeper. The first Test hurtles towards a dramatic draw, in no small part due to the pitch at Trent Bridge, but the decision will undoubtedly add to the building pressure on the ICC to finally make DRS compulsory.
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