Absence of HotSpot leaves both sides hot under the collar


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The Independent Online

The two Tests between Sri Lanka and England have been played in a feisty, sometimes tetchy atmosphere, but there is at least one subject on which players from both sides are united.

Had Graeme Swann not struck twice in his final over to improve England's chances of levelling this two-match series, the conversation at the end of day four would have turned to the Decision Review System.

One of the day's salient events happened in the 35th over. Tillekeratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka batsman, was given out caught at slip off Swann, but reviewed the decision immediately, convinced he had not hit the ball. After studying replays for five minutes, TV umpire Rod Tucker decided there was insufficient evidence to overturn his on-field colleague Bruce Oxenford's original verdict.

Dilshan, already fined 10 per cent of his match fee for excessive appealing, can expect another visit to the match referee's room after hurling his helmet to the floor as he walked off. HotSpot – the heat-seeking device that should be able to detect whether the ball has made contact with the bat – is expensive and is not available in this series.

Dilshan said: "If DRS is applied to Tests and one-day internationals, it should have HotSpot. There is more balance and there will be more correct decisions. Unfortunately, HotSpot is not there during this series.

"I felt 100 per cent that I didn't get an edge and that's why I went to the review, but I have to respect the decision of the umpire. Why did I throw my helmet? I was very disappointed to get out because I wanted to go for a big one."

Dilshan's dismissal prompted the Sri Lanka coach, Graham Ford, to speak to Tucker and the match referee, Javagal Srinath, something his England counterpart, Andy Flower, had done already in this match.

In the first innings, England were convinced that Thilan Samaraweera had gloved a catch to short leg, but the batsman was given not out and again, Tucker was not minded to contradict the on-field umpire, on that occasion Asad Rauf.

Steven Finn was the bowler then, and he agrees with Dilshan. He said: "The downside of not having HotSpot here is that there is no conclusive evidence. I believe DRS should be universal across the board, so you have everything at every game."

It is the responsibility of the home board, in conjunction with the host broadcaster, to fund the technology required for DRS, meaning that what is available often changes from series to series.

Yet, beyond the debate about the technology, this has been a contest that has offered interesting cricket on virtually every day, which makes it a shame that after the second Test, there will be no more.

England knew they needed to win it to level the series and remain as the world's top-ranked Test team, and Swann's work in the penultimate over enhanced their position. The off-spinner befuddled Samaraweera with vicious turn and then bowled the nightwatchman Suraj Randiv through the gate, to leave Sri Lanka six wickets down and only 33 runs ahead.

The wicketkeeper Matt Prior said: "On days like these, you have to sit in and take your opportunities when they come. We would have taken this situation at the end of day four, especially after we lost the toss.

"We had to work hard for it and we earned the two wickets at the end. A win here is important, because we want to prove we're the best Test team in the world."