England review use of referrals

ECB chairman speaks out against 'blasted' system he opposed and says it may not be used at home next summer

England may refuse to use the contentious system of reviewing umpires' decisions in this summer's home Test matches. They could also consider calling for it to be abandoned worldwide unless there is a standard policy in all matches.

The Decision Review System was condemned by the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, who voted against its adoption last year. "Next summer we will have to use the blasted thing unless I can get it reversed in February," he said. The anger over the DRS grew after Graeme Smith's reprieve in the Fourth Test against South Africa. Smith, on 15, was given not out when he seemed to have been caught behind.

Although there was a sound on Sky's TV coverage as the ball passed Smith's bat the third umpire, Daryl Harper, didn't hear it. England then said Harper had not turned up his stump microphone sufficiently, although the ICC backed their umpire yesterday.

England, who thus lost one of their two reviews, asked the ICC to reinstate it, which might have smacked of petulance and righteousness as Smith went on to make 105. But Clarke went much further by condemning the whole system. "We opposed the introduction of DRS and lost that one 9-1," he said. "My concern is that the system has to be applied correctly and with the right technology for there to be a worthwhile exercise in attacking the oldest tenet in the game, which is that the umpires' decision is final. Where will all this take us? This could lead to a dangerous situation in cricket."

Clarke has not yet decided whether he will frame a formal proposal for the ICC's board meeting next month. England have benefited from DRS in this series, not least when Paul Collingwood was given out caught at slip in the Third Test. Rightly reprieved, he went on effectively to save the match. But they will require more than the assistance of technology to help them survive at the Wanderers today.

Clarke said England would definitely consider not using the system next summer despite the presence of the hotspot gizmo which helps to clarify edges. "I support my captain and my coach, who have consistently been very disturbed and concerned about the principle of questioning the umpire's decision," he said.

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