Flower hits out at 'weak' ICC for bowing to India over DRS
Coach fears the inability to appeal lbw decisions will cost England in the series, as Tremlett injury puts Bresnan in the frame
England yesterday accused the International Cricket Council of weak leadership. If this was hardly an extraordinary criticism, it was made with the support of several errors which might have cost them victory in the first Test against India.
As England drove home their advantage at Lord's on Monday, they were twice dangerously delayed by the denial of appeals which would have been upheld by the Decision Review System. But a diluted version of the procedure, which is being used in this series after the ICC changed its agreed policy, means that no lbw verdicts can be challenged in any of the four matches, the second of which begins in Nottingham on Friday.
Andy Flower, England's coach, agreed that it could come to hit England hard later in the series. "We almost saw it happen in this Test match," he said. "It would have been wrong if the outcome of the game had been seriously affected by a couple of those decisions and it was quite right that, luckily, we did continue to create chances. It's unsatisfactory the way it is, there is no doubt about that."
India's resistance to DRS persuaded the ICC at its annual gathering in Hong Kong earlier this month to revoke its previous policy, which had been unanimously agreed by its cricket committee. Many of India's leading players, most notably Sachin Tendulkar, are known to be suspicious of the predictive ball-tracking technology Hawk-Eye which has transformed decision-making.
"I don't think there's anything we can do," said Flower. "I think the ICC should be stronger in taking a lead on these issues. They are the world governing body and they should lead. I don't think it's unfair to say they haven't led on this topic."
England expect India to come back at them hard this week with or without DRS. Flower said they do not anticipate going through the series, without making changes. It would not be a total surprise if Tim Bresnan were to play in the second Test at Trent Bridge.
Well though Chris Tremlett bowled in the 196-run win at Lord's, in common with the other bowlers, he was clearly struggling with a niggle in the lower part of his leg at times. England will be reluctant to go into the match without him but their fears of doing so will also be eased by Stuart Broad's rediscovered form.
Flower said: "I would be very surprised if that XI plays as it is for the rest of the series with the workload on the fast bowlers especially. I don't think any of them would say they are 100 per cent, because they have bowled a lot of overs in this game at great intensity and that takes it out of you. They are all recuperating now and we will see how they pull up."
It was Broad who suffered with two rejected lbw appeals as the match reached a climax at Lord's. Shortly after lunch, the umpire Billy Bowden turned down an appeal against Sachin Tendulkar. It looked out to the naked eye and Hawk-Eye showed it would have hit the top of off stump. Had England been able to review it, the decision would have been changed.
Later in the match, Suresh Raina, India's last point of resistance, was beaten by Broad but Bowden again shook his head. This time, it seems, he thought the ball hit the bat first. But the replay showed it hit the pad and would have hit middle stump halfway up. "We all know that it is not going to be 100 per cent, but we also know you get more right decisions using it," said Flower. "So let's not quibble about millimetres here when we know you get more right than wrong and that's why most Test-playing nations want to use it."
Flower confirmed that Monty Panesar had bowled in the nets at Lord's to Tendulkar before the Test match, and said it was naive and would not be happening again.
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